Fantasy playoffs preview: Week 15 and 16 matchups
All those weeks and months of preparation spent reading articles online, poring over statistics, arguing the merits of one player over another among friends, watching the NFL Scouting Combine, the NFL Draft, the preseason and the first 14 weeks of the regular season all culminate into a two-week fantasy postseason where bragging rights are established and hearts are broken. This article wants to specifically focus on quality players who waffle between a starting lineup and the bench who receive a bump from favorable matchups in Weeks 15 and 16. Keep track of where I'm pulling some of these numbers by checking out this Strength of Schedule tool featured here at FFToolbox!
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Week 15: at Atlanta (9th vs QB) / Week 16: vs Dallas (2nd vs QB)
Griffin's season-to-date numbers have not quite lived up to the hype that followed him after his rooke campaign. All that can be redeemed next week though as he has the most favorable QB matchups combined for Week 15 & 16. First up, Atlanta is tied for second in the NFL in passing TDs allowed and only forced six INTs all year, including zero in their past four games. In the following week, the Skins host the Cowboys in what should be a great game. Dallas has allowed the most fantasy points to QBs this season. Griffin has eclipsed 20 fantasy points in three of his last four games.
Colin Kapernick, San Francisco 49ers
Week 15: at Tampa Bay (4th vs QB) / Week 16: vs Atlanta (9th vs QB)
Another great example of a somewhat disappointing season that can be redeemed in Weeks 15 and 16 has to be Kaepernick. The 49ers are still an excellent club; however, something does appear to be lacking offensively. Kap has rebounded nicely to some degree over his last three games, completing six TD passes and only allowing one INT and zero fumbles. The Bucs' secondary has faltered recently due to injuries to Darrelle Revis and a one-game suspension to Dashon Goldson. Atlanta has allowed QBs to combine for two TDs (rushing and passing TDs) in every single game this year. Kaepernick should redeem a subpar season by leading fantasy owners to championships.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Week 15: at Jacksonville (11th vs RB) / Week 16: at Miami (7th vs RB)
Putting faith in Spiller at this time of the season takes guts. It takes fortitude. Really, it takes a very short memory. Spiller erupted in Week 13 with 157 total yards and a touchdown. He has to be building momentum heading into this final stretch. Fred Jackson owners should stick him as well. The Bills have done well to limit the carries of each and the ever-delicate Spiller needs that kind of TLC. Barring a setback on a tweaked ankle which has him listed as probable heading into Week 14, Spiller is set up nicely to reward the fantasy owners who thought they made a mistake by drafting him early.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 15: at Pittsburgh (14th vs RB) / Week 16: vs Minnesota (5th vs RB)
The even split between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been maddening for everyone. It's come to a head in recent weeks as Bernard has failed to find the end zone in nearly a month. Press on weary travelers and stick with your bread and butter. The rookie qualifies as a strong RB2 in both Weeks 15 and 16. The Vikings can't stop the run of the pass so that one's a no-brainer. Bernard scored his first career TD against the Steelers back in Week 2 and you've got to like his quick twitch speed against those aging Steelers.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 15: at Oakland (5th vs WR) / Week 16: vs Indianapolis (8th vs WR)
After scoring in back-to-back games in Weeks 11 and 12, the average fantasy guru was chomping at the bit to re-insert him into starting lineup. A weak Week 13 though gives everyone pause and for good reason. Bowe barely qualifies as a flex in most weeks, yet two excellent matchups against the Raiders and Colts make him a solid choice to carry you in the postseason. Oakland has given up eight WR TDs in their last five games and seven have come against Indy during that same span.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Week 15: vs Kansas City (13th vs WR) / Week 16: at San Diego (4th vs WR)
Moore is currently looking like a game-time decision in Week 14 so be sure he's ready to play in Week 15 before making a final decision. Also keep an eye on newcomer Andre Holmes as he might overtake Rod Streater as the Raiders No. 2 spot with another big game. In any case, Moore can be a solid WR2 when healthy. Unfortunately, those injuries have derailed what could have been yet another promising season. The Chiefs present an average matchup at-best which is actually trending down in recent weeks due to a bad stretch of football. San Diego is a knock-it-out-the-park, must-have start for Moore. The Chargers have given up six WR TDs since Week 10.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Week 15: vs Arizona (1st vs TE) / Week 16: at Jacksonville (2nd vs TE)
It doesn't get any better than this. By some fortunate twist, Walker goes up against the Top 2 easiest matchups against TEs in Weeks 15 and 16. The Cards and Jags have combined to allow 21 TE TDs on the year. Zach Ertz and Brent Celek recently combined for nine receptions, 97 yards and three scores against Arizona. Walker is still recovering from concussion symptoms sustained back in Week 13 so he may not play in Week 14. He should be ready to go by Week 15, but you never know so be sure he's all clear before blindly plugging him in.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
Week 15: at NY Giants (8th vs TE) / Week 16: vs Arizona (1st vs TE)
Miller is quietly turning around what had been a frustrating season in recent weeks. Over his last two games, he has nine receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown. Sure, Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham can do that in a single game, but it's not bad for a guy barely owned in ESPN leagues (11.9-percent). What will be indicative of Miller's performance is how well he does against San Francisco in Week 14. The Niners are excellent (31st vs TE) on defense and if Miller can still get it going, likely thanks in large part to Russell Wilson, it should be all systems go for Miller in Weeks 15 and 16.
Note: Stream these defenses if available in your league. Indy in Week 15 and Detroit in Week 16. These are bold choices and you should only take a chance on them if you have to stream and there are no obvious, Top 10 DEFs available to on waivers.
Indianapolis Colts DEF
Week 15: vs Houston (2nd vs DEF)
Houston has now lost 10 straight games, sliding head first into oblivion and maybe even the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. First though, they face the Colts in Week 15. Indy recently forced Ryan Fitzpatrick into three INTs in Week 13. Unfortunately, in their previous five games, they allowed at least 24 points and as many as 40. The risks are certainly there, but that's a part of streaming defenses. This isn't your ideal option, but if you're looking for a one-week hit, it fits the bill.
Detroit Lions DEF
Week 16: vs NY Giants (1st vs DEF)
The Lions embarrassed the Packers in Week 13, holding them to just 10 points and forcing three turnovers. The Giants are criminally bad on offense and their pass protection is becoming a serious concern. They've given up 12 sacks, three INTs, three fumbles and two defensive TDs over their last four games. The Lions, as you might expect, are a risky choice for Week 16 given their below-average play for most of the year.
Note: Stream these defenses if available in your league. Alex Henery in Week 15 and Detroit in Week 16.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 15: at Minnesota (5th vs K)
Henery has two Top 5 matchups in Weeks 15 and 16. The Vikings have allowed the third-most extra points, so this will provide those guaranteed points you'll need, but what about field goals? Well, that's not as great. Minnesota has allowed 22 field goals, tied for 11th-most in the NFL. Here's the kicker (see what I did there?) The Vikings play in a dome! Play it safe because it's cold out there. You want kickers playing in controlled environments first and foremost.
Josh Brown, New York Giants
Week 16: at Detroit (1st vs K)
So why would you take one of the least productive offenses' kickers? Well in theory, it should lead to more field goals since drives stall and fall flat. It hasn't played out that way though. Brown has only attempted six FGs since the Giants' Week 9 bye. To his credit, he's made them all, but points are obviously few and far between. Well, on the bright side, Brown will be kicking within the friendly confines of Ford Field. There's no wind, no rain, no cold and no snow for him to deal with. Assuming you're in need of a kicker, he should be available. If not, well, you can always roll the dice with someone else. Throw a dart against map and pick the kicker from the closest team.