As much as root for your fantasy players, sometimes you have to be an anti-team player. We are not talking about being an Odell Beckham Jr. bad seed here. We are talking fantasy football. It’s not personal; it’s business.
You want huge stats and players still competing to win games and post huge numbers in fantasy crunch time. You root against the team, even as you root for the player—well, as least some of us do.
Cam Newton’s ($9,300) legendary NFL Week 15 performance against the woeful New York Giants defense was outstanding, but Newton’s season-long owners could have used a Panthers loss—especially if you play your fantasy football Super Bowl in Week 17. That is because the Panthers might be tempted to take the foot off the gas pedal with their one huge star in the final week.
The good news is Newton appears to be a full go for Week 16 at the Atlanta Falcons since the Panthers still need one more victory or Arizona Cardinals loss (the Cards play after Newton’s Panthers next Sunday).
Great players make great plays and great quarterbacks make even mediocre players good. This is Newton’s 2015 in a nutshell.
Sure, it was just the torched New York Giants secondary he took advantage of, but he did it legendarily, becoming the first player to pass for 300 yards, rush for 100 yards and throw five touchdowns in a game.
How to spell MVP: Cam Newton is 1st player in NFL history with at least 300 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 5 TD passes in same game.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 21, 2015
Newton has been a clear fantasy MVP, too. He was just a lost fumble away from being the highest-scoring player on FanDuel this week. We break down all the studs and duds in FanDuel’s NFL Week 15 Retrospectacle, analyzing what these performances mean going forward.
RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (42.9 FanDuel points)–Welcome to fantasy stardom Mr. Johnson. Not only does he play in the NFL’s No. 1 offense, but he does a bit of everything: Short yardage (two short TDs), long runs (a 47-yard beast mode TD) and pass receiving (4-44) for 229 total yards, four receptions and three TDs. He is the late-season breakthrough Devonta Freeman was in the early season.
The best news of all, Johnson’s price was only marginally raised to $7,300. Who cares if Andre Ellington ($5,200) might take some snaps and touches, Johnson is going to be a popular pick in NFL Week 16 FanDuel contests against the Green Bay Packers. He is going to potentially be a fantasy first-rounder in season-long formats in 2016.
WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (38.9)—It is the performances in the toughest matchups that set fantasy players apart from the pack. In this case, Brown is in his own galaxy—one far, far away. His 16 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns came against the NFL’s No. 1 defense, No. 1 pass defense and the No. 1 team in fantasy against wideouts. Did you know, the Denver Broncos had allowed just two touchdowns to fantasy wideouts all season? Brown ($9,300) is unstoppable at any FanDuel price when Ben Roethlisberger ($8,900) is healthy.
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (35.86)—A great supporting cast is finally healthy and Jay Gruden’s system is fully operational like a Death Star, as Cousins went 319-4 passing and added a rushing score. A matchup against the woeful Philadelphia Eagles secondary looks tempting Saturday night, especially at the $7,500 price. You should love all of the Redskins’ FanDuel values in that one.
RB Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (33.0)—The matchup against the Miami Dolphins was just too good, apparently. Woodhead isn’t much of a rusher (8-10-1), but he is Philip Rivers’ favorite target in the Chargers’ injury-ravaged season, going 6-50-3 as a pass receiver. You can like Woodhead ($5,900) at his price and at the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Eve, but you should love running backs against the Dolphins—next of which is the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Gore ($6,000).
QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (32.94)—Scoff at Bridgewater’s rare 231-4 passing and 4-17-1 rushing performance Sunday against the Chicago Bears all you want, but the reality is the Giants cannot stop anyone at quarterback or wide receiver right now. Bridgewater ($6,600) is going to move a lot of FanDuel GPP players up the ladders Sunday night with another big performance.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (31.50)—One of the rags-to-riches tales of NFL Week 16, Sanders ($7,500) rebounds with a 10-181-1 performance against an exploited Steelers secondary. His Monday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals is not overly favorable, but it does give you an opportunity for some fantasy MNM (Monday night magic).
QB Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos (30.74)—As much as this was Osweiler’s ($6,800) best FanDuel performance of his career, the losses are piling up now. Anyone who believes Osweiler should start over Peyton Manning ($6,500) is foolish. We wouldn’t bank on Osweiler in FanDuel contests at the Bengals next Monday night.
QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (27.3)—After some midseason fantasy struggles, he has put together four strong weeks consecutively. This one included 235-2 passing, 9-79 rushing and a two-point conversion. His greatest achievement is making a fantasy star out of Sammy Watkins ($7,700)in those four games. That should not be understated, considering where those two were at one point this season.
WR Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (27.0)—Speaking of burgeoning young fantasy receiving stars, Cooper ($7,300) went over 1,000 yards receiving—the first Raider to do since Randy Moss. Cooper won’t get 6-120-2 against an underrated Chargers secondary Thursday night, but his price is still in the playable range.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (26.56)—He has alternated five touchdowns and three touchdowns in each of the past five games, going 249-3 passing and 5-49 rushing against the Cleveland Browns, making next Sunday against the St. Louis Rams a five-touchdown performance to come. Don’t stress about his $8,800 FanDuel premium, the offensive onus is squarely on Wilson’s capable shoulders since Marshawn Lynch (hernia) went down.
WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (25.9)—We thought these performances would be far more frequent this season, but both Matthews ($6,400) and Sam Bradford ($6,300) are trending up with prices staying low. Both are strong buys Saturday night against the Washington Redskins’ secondary in a must-win game for the Eagles in a battle for the NFC East title.
WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (25.6)—As much as we ponder what he might be with a better quarterback and more wide-open offense, the past four weeks have been outstanding regardless of the extenuating circumstances. Watkins ($7,700) is peaking at the right time for fantasy owners, catching six of his nine touchdowns in the past four games. We don’t love him against the Dallas Cowboys (quietly given up second-fewest TDs to wideouts) in Week 16, though.
QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (25.28)—Lost in the other huge weeks of the premium (and rushing) quarterbacks is Bortles’ 297-1 passing and 6-44-1 rushing effort against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has been tougher on fantasy quarterbacks than you might realize. Bortles ($8,200) next draws a NFL Week 16 dream matchup at the New Orleans Saints and a defense-less shootout against Drew Brees ($8,200). This should be a bonanza for Bortles and all of his targets to the tune of 400-4. He will easily be the most-played quarterback in GPPs.
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants (25.2)—He was an outstanding contrarian play against the tough Panthers defense, registering four touchdown passes, but we cannot see the same against the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday night, especially if Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,700) serves a one-game suspension for his Josh Norman antics.
NFL discussing discipline for Odell Beckham Jr. this morning, but based on conversations with league sources, a 1-game suspension is likely.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 21, 2015
Kansas City Chiefs Defense (21.0)—Two things prevail here: 1. The Chiefs defense ($5,400) is for real amid an eight-game winning streak; 2. The Baltimore Ravens are a defense matchup dream for FanDuel players. Steelers Defense ($4,800) next week, anyone?
K Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots (17.0)—The Pats got up early and put it into cruise control, which was great for Gostkowski’s FanDuel owners. The matchup at the New York Jets next Sunday is not a favorable one, but you could see it being a field-goal/defensive struggle more than most Pats games.
QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (-0.72)—His negative FanDuel score means you or I would have been a better start this week. Hopefully a promising rookie season doesn’t have to come to this bitter end. He hopes to play again before the end of the season.
#Titans QB Marcus Mariota is believed to have suffered a minor knee sprain, source said. With 2015 waning, might be Mettenberger from here
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 21, 2015
RB Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (-0.2)—The poor guy has faced an uphill battle down the stretch, facing the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs the past two games. Next the Pittsburgh Steelers run defense. Yuck, you cannot use him for that one.
RB DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (0.3)—Instead of crying about his usage earlier this season, perhaps he should storm in the coaches or owners office crying uncle. His fantasy owners would appreciate that, because he is not getting anywhere with how he has handled his Eagles situation. Just two carries for three yards. Worthless.
RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (2.3)—So much for that progress the Packers have made with the resurgent Lacy. He was stuffed for 23 yards on 11 carries. Forget him even at a mere $6,300 against the Arizona Cardinals defense next week.
WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (4.2)—His second half with A.J. McCarron against the Steelers in NFL Week 14 gave us hope he would be immune to posting subpar numbers with a backup quarterback under center. Nope. Green managed just one catch. You cannot play him against the Broncos secondary, even if it was abused by Brown and the Steelers.
RB LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (4.2)—Fantasy made a lot more sense when McCoy was with the Eagles and Murray was with the Dallas Cowboys. Can we just go back to those days? Calgon take us away.