Stars of Week 15

QB: Jalen Hurts, PHI: 24-44, 338 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs (11 carries, 63 yards, 1 TD)

RB: David Montgomery, CHI: 32 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs                             

WR: Calvin Ridley, ATL: 10 catches, 163 yards, 1 TD       

TE: Darren Waller, LV: 9 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD

Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback Jalen Hurts narrowly edges out Josh Allen and Ryan Tannehill as this week’s top passer. Hurts was featured in last week’s analysis as a must-add for teams needing a QB. Hurts just showed us exactly why that was the case. A weapon with both his arm and his legs, Hurts combined for 4 TDs against the Cardinals, while also adding in 63 rushing yards. Like other rushing capable QBs, Hurts has a weekly high floor, and he’ll be a top 10 QB next week heading into the matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. 

David Montgomery has had a resurgence over the second half of the 2020 season. The Chicago Bears’ RB had established himself as a low ceiling RB2, as he shared snaps with Tarik Cohen. Once the Bears lost Cohen for the season due to injury, Montgomery ran with the opportunity for increased snaps (pun intended). He scored two TDs against the Vikings while falling just short of the 150 yard rushing mark. The Bears get the Jaguars this coming week, and Montgomery will once again be a must start RB1. 

The Atlanta Falcons find themselves at a crossroads as an organization, as explained in more detail in the next section. But with all of the question marks they face, star WR Calvin Ridley presents a rock solid answer for the future. Ridley took top honors at wide receiver this week, as QB Matt Ryan looked for him early and often. We’ll take a closer look at where Ridley sits in the Falcons’ wide receiver hierarchy below.

The weekly top tight end spot usually goes to Travis Kelce of the Chiefs, but if he vacates the spot for the week, then Raiders’ TE Darren Waller is the next most likely bet. Waller hauled in 9 passes for 150 yards, while scoring a TD against the Chargers on TNF. Waller has elevated himself into top 3 tight end status as we glance towards 2021.  

Week 15 Takeaways – A Closer Look

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

Tony Pollard, RB – DAL: 12 carries, 69 yards, 2 TDs (6 catches, 63 yards, 0 TDs)

Analysis: Word trickled out roughly an hour before game time that star running back Ezekiel Elliott would be inactive for the Cowboys against the 49ers. For most of you who were attentive to the news, you had an opportunity to snag backup RB Tony Pollard for your lineups. Zeke has had his worst year as a pro, with Pollard actually looking better in his spurts in relief. Well, the trend continued against the 49ers, as Pollard averaged just under 6 yards per carry, while finding the end zone twice. He also factored into the passing game with 6 receptions covering 63 yards. Pollard profiles as a swiss army knife, with great speed and juke, together with an ability to catch passes out of the backfield. The analysis here is quite simple. As long as Elliott sits, then Pollard should be fired up as a solid RB2, with upside. Elliott’s calf has been an issue, and the Cowboys would be smart to let him heal up. That being said, residing in the NFC East, the division still remains within reach, so who knows what Jerry Jones will elect to do. This means we’ve got to wait and see as well. But in the event that Pollard remains unowned in your league (he’s 45% owned in Yahoo leagues), he’s your top RB waiver claim for the week. The Cowboys face the Eagles next week, in what presents itself as a delicious matchup. If Elliott’s out, then Pollard can help you secure a title.

Salvon Ahmed, RB – MIA: 23 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Miami Dolphins’ running back corps contains an unusually high number of Washington Huskies, which makes me proud as an alum. Second year RB Myles Gaskin has snagged the lead job for the Dolphins, and the Huskies’ alumnus has had a solid if not spectacular season. However, Gaskin has missed the last two weeks after testing positive for COVID. This past Sunday, fellow Huskies’ alum Salvon Ahmed started against the Patriots, and he surpassed the century mark in rushing while also scoring a TD. Ahmed is not a bruiser, but rather a quick, twitchy type RB that can be tough to bring down due to his elusivity. Ahmed has averaged just under 4.6 yards per carry over his 63 rushing attempts. As evidenced this past Sunday, when given opportunity and a good matchup, Ahmed will produce. Similar to Pollard, it’s not clear whether the incumbent starter will return for next week or not. Also similar, the Dolphins’ face a toothless Raiders’ rushing defense, so a plus matchup awaits if Ahmed has another shot at the starting gig. In terms of ranking, if both Pollard and Ahmed have the starting nod next week, I would prioritize Pollard, who contributes more in the passing game. But Ahmed would be a low end RB2, so not too far off where Pollard ranks. If you’re in the RB market, be ready to put in a claim for Ahmed as well – and then let’s see how the week unfolds.

Chad Hansen, WR – HOU: 2 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: With most of the Houston Texans’ wide receiver corps wiped out due to injuries, suspension and release, franchise QB Deshaun Watson has had to make due with whatever replacements the Texans can round up. We looked at Keke Coutee a few weeks back, and now we dig a bit deeper to shine the spotlight on fourth year WR Chad Hansen. The Cal product has only amassed counting stats in 2017 and 2020, but now he’s fantasy relevant in deep leagues. Hansen has played in three games for the Texans this season, and he’s produced in each of them. In fact, Hansen has exceeded 10 points in PPR leagues in each game. Hansen found the end zone against the Colts this past weekend, while he’s had 12 receptions covering 157 yards in his other two games. Watson targeted Hansen only 3 times this past Sunday, but Hansen had 7 targets in each of the other two games. Hansen should be a high volume target more often than not. The Texans face the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday, which presents a fantastic matchup. For those of you in leagues with 12 plus teams, especially PPR, should give Hansen a look in case you need WR help.

Calvin Ridley, WR – ATL: 10 catches, 163 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: With the 2020 fantasy football season nearing an end, it’s a good time to keep one eye on next season. The Atlanta Falcons face uncertainty as they move into next season, with a new general manager and head coach on the way. With an aging roster, there could be significant turnover on the personnel side. That being said, quarterback Matt Ryan will be hard to trade due to his contract, and the guess here is that star wide receiver Julio Jones returns as well. Whether or not Jones returns, the most valuable fantasy WR for the Falcons in 2021 will be Calvin Ridley, and not Jones. Ridley has continued his ascension into stardom in 2020, with 77 catches, 1,092 yards and 9 TDs over 13 games, while only missing one game (through 14 contests). As Ridley will be 25 years old at the start of the 2021 season, his arrow continues to point up. Ridley has shown that he can carry the mail while Jones is out, as he did comfortably to the tune of 10 receptions, 163 yards and a TD this past Sunday. Jones, on the other hand, as accumulated a stat line of 51 catches, 771 yards and 3 TDs, while only suiting up for 9 games. While Jones had been mostly healthy from 2014 onward, valid questions exist as to whether his injury plagued 2020 season looms as a sign of things to come. Jones will start the 2021 season at 32 years old, which is around the age where many star receivers start their decline. Jones’ build as a muscular marvel could also leave him more susceptible to nagging injuries, such as the hamstring issue he’s had this season. For those of you in dynasty or keeper leagues, I would suggest unloading Jones this coming offseason if you can get a reasonable offer. Risk making the move a year too early versus a year too late, as Bill Belichick would do. Meanwhile, Ridley should be slotted in as a top 12 WR option, being selected no later than the third round. Moving forward, Ridley’s the top wide receiver to own from the Falcons, and I would downgrade Jones on your draft boards.

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: Jamal Hurts, PHI (@ DAL) *** top 10 QB option this week

RB: Gus Edwards, BAL (vs NYG)

RB: Sony Michel, NE (vs BUF)

WR: Keke Coutee, HOU (vs CIN)

WR: Allen Lazard, GB (vs TEN)

TE: Austin Hooper, CLE (@ NYJ)