Stars of Week 15

QB: Jameis Winston, TB: 28-42, 458 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

RB: Kenyan Drake, ARI: 22 carries, 137 yards, 4 TDs                    

WR: Julio Jones, ATL: 13 catches, 134 yards, 2 TDs

TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 11 catches, 142 yards, 0 TDs

In what was the semifinal playoff round for most leagues, good Jameis Winston showed up for those with the gumption to start him. The fifth-year Buccaneers’ quarterback passed for nearly 300 yards by halftime against the Detroit Lions, and capped off the day with 4 TD tosses to go along with 458 passing yards. While the road has been bumpy, Winston has been a top-5 fantasy QB this season. We’ll see if the Bucs will keep him around next year – the guess here is yes.

Moving from one ascending team to another, the Arizona Cardinals 2019 season has been a success, soley for one reason - Kyler Murray has established himself as a franchise QB. As for his teammates in the backfield, it’s Kenyan Drake and not David Johnson, who appears to have a role in the team’s long range plans. Johnson was rudely Wally Pipp’d by Drake midseason, and Drake found the end zone four times against the Browns this past weekend. The Cardinals will receive much more fantasy attention in 2020.

While the Atlanta Falcons have been a large disappointment this year, Julio Jones showed this past Sunday why he still belongs in the best-WR-in-the-game discussion. Jones hauled in 13 passes for 134 yards and crossed the end zone line twice – including with 2 seconds left for the game winning TD. Jones will remain a first round pick in next year’s drafts.

We end this week’s honor roll with Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, who led the league in receiving yardage in week 15. Kelce took over the mantle of best-TE-in-the-game since Gronk retired, but he’s going to have to fight off San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle in next year’s drafts. 

Week 15 Takeaways – A Closer Look

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Mike Boone, RB – MIN: 13 carries, 56 yards, 2 TDs

Analysis: Fantasy football takes several twists and turns each week, with breakout performers and injuries creating a waiver wire frenzy for previously little known, unrostered players. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, superstar RB Dalvin Cook suffered a shoulder injury, which knocked him out of the week 15 matchup against the Chargers. Will Cook miss the week 16 matchup against the Packers? That sounds likely, albeit we don’t have confirmation as of yet. If Cook misses the upcoming Packers game, then next in line is…currently injured RB Alexander Mattison. Mattison missed the week 14 matchup with an ankle issue, but the early murmurs are that he will be ready to return this week. In the absence of both Cook (upon his in-game injury) and Mattison, Mike Boone stepped in and scored 2 TDs, while gaining 56 yards over 13 carries. That’s a solid performance for the undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati. Alright, so what’s the pecking order, if assuming Cook remains out this week? Best guess here is that Mattison is the guy you want, as his upside is a clear notch above that of Boone. Mattison is not without injury risk, however, and there’s a chance that we won’t know his status until after fantasy waivers pass. So you should target Boone as well with a lower waiver wire pick. It’s complicated, but go for both guys. Consider Mattison a high end RB2 against the Packers if he can go, with Boone a flex option in case Mattison is out. There’s uncertainty here, but Mattison is the high end play.

Joe Mixon, RB – CIN: 25 carries, 136 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: Fantasy owners who drafted Joe Mixon this season have been largely disappointed. It took Mixon 10 games to score his first rushing TD, and Mixon failed to reach 100 yards rushing in a game until his 9th game of the season. Over the past six weeks (starting with his 9th game), Mixon has reverted to being the star of old – 101 yards per game, 4.65 yards per carry and 3 TDs. So what’s the cause of the change? Mixon suffered an ankle injury early in the season but largely played through it. Add the turmoil that is the Cincinnati Bengals and Mixon had a lot to overcome. But the team has played better of late, settling into coach Zac Taylor’s system. We’re taking a closer look at Mixon here more so for next season, as a potential steal in your drafts. Take the current Bengals’ infrastructure, and likely add Heisman trophy winner QB Joe Burrow, along with a potentially healthy AJ Green, and you have the bones of a solid offensive group. Mixon remains a stud, and can likely be had with a late second round pick. He will be a steal at that price. Keep Mixon’s name tucked away for your 2020 drafts. 

Breshad Perriman, WR – TB: 5 catches, 113 yards, 3 TDs

Analysis: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a factory for passing offense, albeit tight end OJ Howard has yet to find his department. With top WR Mike Evans out for the year, the Bucs plugged in veteran WR Breshad Perriman, and he made himself quite comfortable from the get-go against the Detroit Lions. Perriman caught three of Jameis Winston’s TD passes and crossed the century mark in receiving in just five catches. Winston targeted Perriman six times, and that number will surely increase next week. This is because wideout 1A – Chris Godwin – suffered a hamstring injury in the game, and his season is likely over. With both Evans and Godwin out, Perriman will step in as the lead WR for the Bucs in their heavy pass centric offense. The Bucs face the Houston Texans next, who are yet another favorable passing defense to face. If you lost Godwin or otherwise need a WR, Perriman is the top target for this week. Someone – besides the other team- has got to be on the receiving end of Winston’s passes, and that job falls to Breshad Perriman.

Anthony Miller, WR – CHI:  9 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: It feels strange to write about a pass catching option for the Bears whose name isn’t Allen Robinson, but these are strange times. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has elevated his play over the last month or so – just enough to likely get another shot to start for the Bears next year. As a result of Trubisky’s recent surge, the primary benefactor has been WR Anthony Miller. Trubisky targeted Miller a whopping 15 times against the Packers in week 15, and this is more of a trend than a one-off. Over the last five games, Trubisky has targeted Miller an average of 10.4 times per contest, which has led to 6.6 receptions and 86.2 yards per game over this time period, with Miller scoring two TDs. So the Bears’ passing game has expanded to include a second pass catcher, doubling the previous status quo. Miller gets a hard test next week against a stingy Kansas City Chiefs’ pass defense, but Miller will be a flex option due to the volume. Given the tough matchup, Miller ranks behind Perriman in this week’s waiver list – but make him your number 2 WR target.

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we’ll throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA

RB: Kerryon Johnson, DET (set to return from IR)

RB: Patrick Laird, MIA

WR: Chris Conley, JAC

WR: Russell Gage, ATL

TE: Noah Fant, DEN