Stars of Week 15

QB: Josh Allen, BUF: 25-40, 304 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs (10 carries, 77 yards, 0 TDs)

RB: Jerick McKinnon, KC: 10 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD (8 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD)                              

WR: Zay Jones, JAC: 6 catches, 109 yards, 3 TDs

TE: George Kittle, SF: 4 catches, 93 yards, 2 TDs

Playing in a blizzard in Buffalo, New York in December? Not a problem for the league’s top fantasy QB – and arguably top real-life QB. Josh Allen had no problem using his rocket arm to pierce through the snow and wind on Saturday night, as evidenced by his 300+ yards passing and 4 TDs. And as we’ve come to expect, Allen also tacked on 77 key rushing yards. Quintessential Josh Allen performance for the first round of the fantasy playoffs.

Last week we expressed shock in the Chiefs sending Jerick McKinnon as their rep for the honor roll, given the embarrassment of riches on their roster. It appears that McKinnon read this column and took it personally, deciding to run it back for a second straight week. McKinnon did his damage fairly evenly between the running and passing games, scoring TDs through both avenues. We’ll take a deeper look at the Chiefs’ backfield below.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have morphed into a quality NFL team in recent weeks, led by their franchise QB Trevor Lawrence taking a substantial leap. A rising QB lifts all skill players, and WR Zay Jones had himself a day with 3 TDs and more than 100 yards receiving. Jones has settled in as a solid WR3 / flex option.

George Kittle has long been a better real life NFL player than fantasy player, as fantasy scoring doesn’t provide credit for in-line blocking or for freeing up your teammates by sucking in additional coverage. So Kittle’s fantasy owners likely had split reactions, divided between those who patiently waited for Kittle to have a game like this, and were rewarded in the fantasy playoffs…and those who patiently waited for Kittle to have a game like this, and it was too little, too late for their playoff hopes. Kittle remains a TE1, but his best games happen in hard to predict moments.

Week 15 Takeaways – A Closer Look

With just a few weeks left in the fantasy football season, we’ll focus on four RB groups to assess what to expect for these final few games.

Kansas City Chiefs RBs

- Isiah Pacheco: 15 carries, 86 yards, 0 TDs

- Jerick McKinnon: 10 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD (8 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD) 

Analysis: The Chiefs eeked out a win against the lowly Texans in overtime, deciding to make the game interesting for some reason. Speaking of interesting, Jerick McKinnon has made the Chiefs’ backfield interesting by scoring massive fantasy points for two weeks in a row. So where does the team’s backfield stand as of now? Despite losing a key fumble on Sunday, Isiah Pacheco remains the early down rusher. Pacheco had 15 carries for 86 yards, which comprises excellent production if not for the lost fumble. McKinnon took 10 carries while catching 8 balls, scoring a TD both via the ground and the air. Meanwhile, McKinnon remains the team’s passing down back, with a carved out role in the rushing game. Both players are must-owns in fantasy leagues, with Pacheco the more valuable player in standard and half PPR leagues, and McKinnon carrying more value in full PPR leagues. The Chiefs get the Seahawks next on their schedule, so expect this to be a Pacheco game. Consider Pacheco a RB2 in standard and half PPR leagues, and a flex in full PPR. Reverse this for McKinnon.

Atlanta Falcons RBs

- Tyler Allgeier: 17 carries, 139 yards, 1 TD

- Cordarrelle Patterson: 14 carries, 52 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Atlanta Falcons sit just one game out of first place in the NFC South at 5-9 (yes, yuk!), but we’re focused on their rushing game in this space. Veteran rusher Cordarrelle Patterson has been the lead back when healthy, with rookie Tyler Allgeier pushing for more carries as the season has transpired. Against the Saints this past Sunday, Allgeier outcarried Patterson by a 17 to 14 margin, with the snap count basically even with Patterson at 37 and Allgeier at 36. While not flashy, Allgeier has shown a propensity for solid weekly production, having rushed for more than 50 yards in each of the previous three weeks prior to week 15, in which he rumbled for 139 yards and a TD. Allgeier more than doubled Patterson’s production, which should lead to no less than a split in carries over these last few games. The Falcons would be wise to continue getting a longer look at Allgeier, despite still being in the “playoff picture”. Consider both Allgeier and Patterson as RB3/flex options, with a lean towards Allgeier as the more valuable player down the fantasy playoff stretch.

Carolina Panthers RBs

- Chuba Hubbard: 4 carries, 10 yards, 0 TDs (3 catches, 57 yards, 0 TDs)

- D’onta Foreman: 10 carries, 9 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: Another team in the playoff hunt at 5-9, the Carolina Panthers have moved on from star rusher Christian McCaffrey to usher in an era of youth. While neither Chuba Hubbard nor D’onta Foreman profile as a franchise RB, both have been productive in McCaffrey’s absence. Foreman took charge early after the McCaffrey trade, essentially seizing the lead role while Hubbard played more as a backup / passing situation option. The ground beneath Foreman has started to recede over the last two weeks, however, as Hubbard has received increased playing time, which he’s used to outperform Foreman. Against the Steelers this past Sunday, Hubbard outsnapped Foreman 29 to 14. While neither player ran effectively against the Steelers, Hubbard had 57 receiving yards – compared to 0 for Foreman. Hubbard’s usage in the passing game should leapfrog him over Foreman in terms of fantasy value over these last few weeks. Hubbard has the clear edge in value in PPR leagues, while the delta between the players is much lower in standard leagues. Both players fall into RB3 / flex territory, with Hubbard pushing the higher side and Foreman dropping towards the lower end of the spectrum.

Indianapolis Colts RBs

- Jonathan Taylor: Injured (again)

- Zack Moss: 24 carries, 81 yards, 0 TDs

- Deon Jackson: 13 carries, 55 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: Perhaps the most disappointing player in fantasy football this season is the one selected 1:1 in almost every draft. There’s no way to sugar coat it – Jonathan Taylor has been a massive bust this year…primarily due to injury. Taylor will likely miss the remainder of the season, so the Colts have carries galore up for grabs. Thankfully for the fantasy community, the team tipped its hand as to how it will likely divvy up carries among its remaining healthy backs. As such, it appears that Zack Moss, and not Deon Jackson, will likely receive the majority of the carries. Moss toted the rock 24 times against the Vikings, with 13 carries for Jackson. The snap count told a similar story, as Moss saw the field for 53 plays, compared to only 25 for Jackson. Moss has RB2 potential as the Colts face a schedule friendly for running backs to wrap up their season, and will likely be the top RB available on the waiver wire. If you need help in the backfield, make Moss your top priority this week.

* All snap count information is referenced through statistics provided by Pro Football Focus.

Rapid Fire Pickups

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

QB: Brock Purdy, SF (vs WAS)

RB: Gus Edwards, BAL (vs ATL)

RB: Khalil Herbert, CHI (vs BUF)

WR: Marquise Goodwin, SEA (@ KC)

WR: Nico Collins, HOU (@ TEN)

TE: Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN (vs HOU)

Personal Note

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