And so we’re reaching the endgame of the season: the countdown to the playoffs is well underway. Every score matters, every play is scrutinised harder, every hero is more celebrated, and every disappointment is more vilified.
Well, we’ll be damned if we don’t get in on that action, so here’s your weekly group therapy session of NFL Fantasy Studs and Duds for Week 15!
Stud: Jameis Winston – QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston is unlikely to be the long-term answer for the Buccs at QB, as he continues to turn the ball over at a historic pace. However, his gunslinger mentality can sometimes pay off big, and with a couple more monster performances he may just buy himself another year on the Florida coast.
He had one such performance on Sunday against the hapless Detroit Lions. Facing a defence that finds it hard to create turnovers, Famous Jameis torched the Lions secondary by completing 28 passes for 458 yards, four touchdowns and a single interception. In doing so, he became the first NFL player to throw for 450 yards in back-to-back games, and he helped fantasy managers win a lot of important matchups too!
Stud: Miles Sanders – RB – Philadelphia Eagles
It’s probably time to accept that the inconsistent Eagles stink, along with the rest of the NFC East. Carson Wentz has no wide receivers, they’re still struggling on the offensive line, and their defence can’t stop even bad opponents. Eagles fans will be thanking their lucky stars that they’ve at least hit on a running back to rely upon in Miles Sanders.
Defying years of split backfields in Philly, Sanders put the Eagles offense on his back against the Washington Redskins in a vital divisional game. The running back carried the ball for 122 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, adding 50 receiving yards and another score through the air. The Eagles don’t deserve to be in the postseason discussion, but performances like this one from Mack will keep them there despite themselves this December.
Stud: Tyler Higbee – TE – LA Rams
The recent Rams resurgence came to a shuddering halt at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. With both teams desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive, Sean McVay’s men simply couldn’t stop the Cowboys from imposing their will on the ground, leading to a blowout win at home for America’s team. So how is there a Ram among our studs?
Garbage time, baby! McVay made the choice to keep all of his starters in the game despite being down multiple scores late in the fourth quarter, because he doesn’t believe in quitting, or injuries, or both. Higbee capitalised by catching twelve passes for a total of 111 yards, with the majority of his production coming with the game already beyond reach. This marks the tight end’s third straight week going over 100 yards, so even if you’re a Rams fan you were celebrating if you had Higbee in your fantasy team.
Dud: Philip Rivers – QB – San Diego Chargers
You hate to see a future Hall-of-Famer reach the end of their powers, but it’s time to accept that Phillip Rivers is done. Every time he faces a competent defence, he’s been giving them the ball one way or another. Not just that, his passes are inconsistent, wobbly messes that are as likely to land in the hands of an opponent as those of his own player.
Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Vikings was just the latest example of this once-great player on the wane. Rivers actually threw the ball for 307 yards and a touchdown; respectable fantasy numbers for a QB. That is until you throw in his three interceptions, and the fumble he lost that the Vikings returned for a touchdown. Turnovers kill you in football and in fantasy, and the Chargers QB has become the most lethal fantasy pick out there.
Dud: Phillip Lindsay – RB – Denver Broncos
We get it, the Broncos don’t have a lot to play for in Week 15. They do have divisional pride however, and they were facing a Kansas City Chiefs side with issues against the run. Couple that with a rookie quarterback and a snow-covered field, and you’ve got the recipe for a dynamic running back to find success.
Unless that running back is Phillip Lindsay. Last year’s breakout rookie star had his worst game of the season as he carried the ball just seven times for a paltry 32 yards. He also failed to catch the two balls thrown his way and looked like a rookie all over again in the snow, despite being a Rocky Mountain native. It’s been a rough second half of the season for Lindsay, and Sunday was the new nadir. If you gambled on him for your matchup this week, it didn’t pay off.
Dud: Deebo Samuel – WR – San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan’s offensive revolution has finally taken off this season in San Francisco, and a large part of that has been the electrifying form of rookie speedster Deebo Samuel. Not only has the young wideout found a role quickly, he’s excelled in it, scoring over 14 fantasy points in his last five outings and reaching 100 yards from scrimmage in three of the last four. He was destined to feast against Shanahan’s former team, the Atlanta Falcons, on Sunday.
Then the Falcons showed up. They made a point of limiting the space for Samuel at the line of scrimmage. Deebo only managed one catch for 29 yards and one carry for eight yards, leaving his fantasy owners wanting. It’s very nice for Kyle Shanahan to have a player that he can use as a decoy and get George Kittle free for another huge day, but doesn’t the man realise that we have fantasy competitions on the line?