Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 15. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe — feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!
In an effort to get some sleep in my later years, hang around my family more, and try to improve myself in something other than fantasy sports “journalism,” I decided to drop out of a number of my many fantasy football leagues this season. I went from about 20 down to eight, a mix of both experts and friend leagues.
I found myself with more time on my hands during the week, especially on Sunday mornings. Gone was the need to optimize 20 lineups with Mighty Max, as was the consumption of an avalanche of player news. In fact, my free time increased to the point where I had the chance to write a new movie script, learn how to better edit video, and chase down some opportunities in the entertainment industry. Nice.
But everything comes with a price – in this case, the lack of an overwhelming number of fantasy leagues meant that I was a bit less on edge, less neurotic and less diligent. Despite producing player rankings, I never actually used them to set my lineups – mainly because my new hobbies and interests kept me distracted Sunday mornings. As a result, I made the playoffs in only 4-of-8 leagues – and I’ve already been booted out of two. It was so bad that last week I lost a playoff game because I started two inactive players and lost by 14 points. Infuriating!
What lessons are to be learned from all this? First of all, making extra time for your family sounds good, but it’s a losing proposition; no matter how much time you carve out, more would be better. Second, being relaxed and a fantasy football champion is a non-existent state of nature, like functional government or hot feminists. Most importantly, I learned that if I want to get back to being as successful as I was in years past, I have to toss aside any notion of a balanced life.
Keep that in mind if any of you are thinking of becoming famous fantasy sports journalists.
As usual, I’m watching Thursday Night Football as write this garbage. As I’ve been noting all season, this whole “color rush” uniform scam is atrocious. Thursday’s contest between Tampa Bay and St. Louis reminds me of a Fourth of July picnic … especially the part where somebody’s misbehaved little brat grabs the ketchup dispenser in one hand and the mustard dispenser in the other, then decides to do his best Jackson Pollack impersonation. That’s right, a Jackson Pollack reference in a fantasy football column. If that doesn’t get me another Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award this year, nothing will.
Interesting Players for Week 15
If you’re interested, here is the list of the Top 10 at each offensive position (along with a relative value) for this weekend’s games. Use it to gauge how two players compare. For example, if Tom Brady has a Fantasy Football Ranking System (FFRS) of 40 this week and Derek Carr has a 30, then you should think of Brady as being a 33 percent stronger play than Carr this week. Use these FFRS for standard fantasy leagues for waivers or lineup decisions; in daily leagues use the relative nature of the FFRS to gauge dollar values between players.
Good luck! (Points per reception scoring is used for the FFRS rankings below)
Top 10 QB Plays:
- Tom Brady, NEP (vs. TEN) – 23.51
- Cam Newton, CAR (vs. NYG) – 22.95
- Carson Palmer, ARI (vs. PHI) – 21.60
- Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. CLE) – 20.88
- Aaron Rodgers, GBP (vs. OAK) – 20.35
- Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. ATL) – 19.66
- Drew Brees, NOS (vs. DET) – 19.65
- Tyrod Taylor, BUF (vs. WAS) – 19.45
- Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. NOS) – 19.41
- Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. NEP) – 18.94
Let’s see: in consecutive weeks, Mariota has had an 87-yard rushing touchdown and a 41-yard touchdown reception. If he’s on my team, I’m starting him because he might end up returning a kick for a touchdown … Between a solid couple of weeks and the inept New Orleans pass defense, Matthew Stafford makes an appearance on this week’s list.
Top 10 RB Plays:
- Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. JAC) – 22.56
- Adrian Peterson, MIN (vs. CHI) – 19.03
- Chris Ivory, NYJ (vs. DAL) – 18.41
- LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. WAS) – 17.72
- Lamar Miller, MIA (vs. SDC) – 17.60
- Matt Forte, CHI (vs. MIN) – 17.16
- Jeremy Hill, CIN (vs. SFO) – 15.21
- Frank Gore, IND (vs. HOU) – 15.20
- Latavius Murray, OAK (vs. GBP) – 14.87
- David Johnson, ARI (vs. PHI) – 13.95
Latavius Murray has had a quietly effective season for fantasy owners; he hasn’t been as explosive as he was in 2014, but he’s proven durable and reliable. When I’m wrong, I admit it: I thought Jeremy Hill was going to be the next big thing at running back. While he’s had eight touchdowns thus far, his total yards is barely half of last year’s total. If you’re in a keeper league and have Hill, I’m not sure if I’d keep him – especially with Giovanni Bernard having as a good a season as he’s had in 2015. Cincinnati looks like a true running back committee in 2016.
Top 10 WR Plays:
- DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. IND) – 25.79
- Julio Jones, ATL (vs. JAC) – 25.28
- Odell Beckham, NYG (vs. CAR) – 24.75
- A.J. Green, CIN (vs. SFO) – 23.26
- Jeremy Maclin, KCC (vs. BAL) – 22.98
- Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs. CLE) – 22.18
- Brandon Marshall, NYJ (vs. DAL) – 21.75
- Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs. PIT) – 21.55
- Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. DEN) – 21.41
- Allen Robinson, JAC (vs. ATL) – 20.90
Last week I said Baldwin was a sneaky playoff pick up; I guess he’s not that much of a surprise any more. Beckham is a freak of nature; while his production conjures up memories of a rookie Randy Moss, his style of play is much different. Did you see that catch in the end zone Monday against Miami? Moss never made a catch like that …
Top 10 TE Plays:
- Rob Gronkowski, NEP (vs. TEN) – 16.47
- Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs. SEA) – 15.33
- Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. BUF) – 14.97
- Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. NEP) – 14.00
- Antonio Gates, SDC (vs. MIA) – 13.97
- Ben Watson, NOS (vs. DET) – 12.78
- Richard Rodgers, GBP (vs. OAK) – 12.08
- Julius Thomas, JAC (vs. ATL) – 12.08
- Eric Ebron, DET (vs. NOS) – 11.33
- Travis Kelce, KCC (vs. BAL) – 10.86
Julius Thomas has now scored a touchdown in four straight games and is starting to be the factor Jacksonville hoped he would be when he was signed this past offseason. Delanie Walker continues to be Tennessee’s top receiving threat, which speaks to Walker’s talents as well as the lack of playmakers on Tennessee’s offense.