Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints
In a possible Super Bowl preview, Drew Brees started a game 0-for-5 for the first time in his career and is clearly playing at far less than 100 percent, something Sean Payton will likely (reluctantly?) allow over the rest of the season. Brees still tossed three TD strikes in the second half, and it’s understandable he’d be rusty coming off missed time and without Michael Thomas. Brees will be a top-10 fantasy QB at home against the Vikings in Week 16 despite his injury.
Patrick Mahomes went on the road to face arguably the league’s best defense and while he managed a career-low 5.4 YPA (while taking four sacks and fumbling twice), the star QB still produced three touchdowns and added 37 rushing yards. He’ll go down as one of the best fantasy picks of the year. This play was simply unfair … Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with what appeared to be an ugly leg injury (he got twisted up in a pile), but hopefully he avoided anything serious long term. He’s going to be one of the most interesting players to rank/draft in 2021 … Travis Kelce has fallen to No. 2 on the leaderboard as he continues his quest to be the first tight end ever to lead the league in receiving yards, but he matched his career-high with his 10th TD catch of the year (Tyreek Hill tied the franchise record with his 15th touchdown catch).
Alvin Kamara had a perfectly fine game but not quite the eruption many hoped after Brees reclaimed QB duties, as his six targets Sunday would happen in a quarter for the duo earlier in the season, especially with Thomas out … Brees didn’t go to Jared (Cook) as much as expected, nor did Tre’Quan Smith profit DFS players despite the increased opportunity … The Saints executed an honorable backdoor cover and could put up a better fight closer to full strength should these teams meet again in the Super Bowl, but Kansas City emphasized this week just how clear it is that they are the NFL’s best team right now.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray threw for 400+ yards and totaled four touchdowns, as his shoulder injury no longer appears to be an issue. It marked Murray’s ninth game with a rushing and passing TD this season, which is the most in NFL history. Jalen Hurts countered by totaling 401 yards with four scores himself, finishing as the #1 fantasy QB in Week 15. The rookie QB is going to be a force both for the Eagles and fantasy managers for years to come (congratulations if you have Hurts in a dynasty league). Hurts took six sacks (after taking just one last week), but it’s hard not to come away highly impressed. The rookie will be an easy top-10 fantasy QB in Week 16 (@Dal) … Dallas Goedert was close to having a much bigger game, while DeAndre Hopkins put on a clinic; one drive alone featured a sick 40-yard catch to start it and this play to finish it … The Eagles lost both their punter and holder, while the Cardinals had one of the best special teams plays of the season ... Kenyan Drake entered in a sneaky favorable smash spot and with Chase Edmonds injured, but it was he who got banged up Sunday when he delivered a massively disappointing performance during a crucial week in the fantasy playoffs. For one final time (I promise): I hate the Drake!
New York Jets @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams entered #1 in the NFL when it comes to time leading at home this season, so naturally, they lost as 17-point favorites to the winless Jets. Moreover, LA had allowed zero second-half touchdowns at home all year before Frank Gore scored Sunday in a game I assured my brother-in-law he had nothing to worry about when picking them in Survivor.
Jets fans woke up assured of having Trevor Lawrence for at least the next decade but went to bed with the team now having just a 31% chance of picking first in the draft. If Adam Gase isn’t careful, he may just get himself fired … The Jets remarkably scored on their eighth straight opening drive (which weirdly seems like a coaching thing), and Ty Johnson looks interesting if ever given more touches … Cam Akers went to the locker room injured in the second quarter but returned only to have a nice TD run called back by a holding penalty (that admittedly helped) and another long gain nullified by a flag later as well. Akers really disappointed during a crucial fantasy week.
The Rams threw deep late to a tight end (Gerald Everett) on 4th-and-4 inside four minutes left during a head-scratching play call that made them look like the team that’s tanking, but don’t tell that to the Jets’ punter, who helped New York pull off the largest upset ever by a team 0-10 or worse.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
Since 2017, the 49ers are now 22-8 when Jimmy Garoppolo starts and 6-26 without him. Nick Mullens committed three more turnovers Sunday before exiting hurt, and the team’s best offensive highlight came during the game’s final play on a Hail Mary … Raheem Mostert has first-round fantasy upside but is arguably the biggest injury risk in the league. He simply can’t stay on the field (a requirement for all 49ers this season). Jeff Wilson Jr. would be a top-15 RB during fantasy championships next week should he get SF’s backfield to himself (and assuming he’s healthy) … Brandon Aiyuk saw another 13 targets and continues to look like an alpha right away (he’s the #11 PPR WR in points per game this season despite backup QB play), while fellow rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb had a busy day that featured a bad drop, a nice play downfield and Dallas’ first kick return touchdown since 2008.
Tony Pollard became the DFS play of the day after Ezekiel Elliott was unexpectedly ruled out, and he more than came through with 132 yards from scrimmage and a couple of touchdowns (including this impressive one) against a San Francisco defense that’s been one of the stingiest against fantasy backs this season (top-five in fewest ppg allowed). Pollard would be an easy RB1 any week Zeke should miss.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
Deshaun Watson threw for 372 yards without any of his receivers reaching 60 yards (David Johnson did add 106 receiving yards), and the QB almost led Houston in rushing as well. Watson is one of the three or four best players in football, and hopefully, he gets a proper environment at some point … Jonathan Taylor continues to impress with the eye test as much as he does the box score as the season has progressed, and it’s clear now we aren’t looking at anything close to a Trent Richardson situation. In fact, Taylor is starting to look more like a future star than he is a bust, although his schedule takes a 180-degree turn with a trip to Pittsburgh in the upcoming fantasy championship week … A late 41-yard catch saved T.Y. Hilton’s day from being a total fantasy disaster, but it was still a disappointment considering he entered hot and with a history of shredding the Texans ... Houston lost to the Colts for the second time in three weeks thanks to a late lost fumble.
Detroit Lions @ Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill got 10.1 YPA and produced five touchdowns in a monstrous fantasy performance. Having Derrick Henry isn’t ideal for his fantasy value, but that’s more than offset by Tennessee’s poor defense (and having A.J. Brown and Corey Davis). After leading the NFL in CPAE by a wide margin last season, Tannehill has empathically proven it was no fluke, and he’s a QB1 option moving forward … Matthew Stafford showed real toughness playing through a painful injury with nothing to gain, and he’ll be a strong QB target at fantasy drafts next year coming off a down season, with improved coaching and with Kenny Golladay back (or he’ll be slinging it for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco) … D’Andre Swift lost a fumble at the goal line but scored twice anyway, and he won’t make it out of the second round of 2021 fantasy drafts … Henry’s 147 rushing yards with one touchdown almost feels like a letdown given the matchup, although he made up for it with another vicious stiff arm … Corey Davis had a nice 75-yard touchdown and is the WR17 in points per game this season in PPR leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
The Bucs were shutout at halftime and down 24-7 more than 10 minutes into the third quarter yet scored 31 points and won, although maybe that shouldn’t be surprising considering Atlanta’s season. After many years of Tom Brady playing better for the Patriots than for fantasy managers, the opposite has been true in 2020 … Leonard Fournette got just 3.5 YPC and turned five targets into 16 yards but a couple of one-yard TD runs made him a good fantasy start nevertheless … Matt Ryan had a nice game without Julio Jones against a Tampa Bay secondary that continues to decline, while Todd Gurley finished with negative rushing yards … One week after Antonio Brown played less than 50% of the snaps and ran only 13 routes, there was an AB sighting.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
Bill Belichick entered 21-7 against rookie quarterbacks, having not lost to one since 2013, but he exited losing to Tua Tagovailoa and company, as the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday … Salvon Ahmed reclaimed Miami’s workhorse role and produced a big game during the fantasy semi-finals, becoming the first Dolphins player with 100 rushing yards in two years (he also had a second touchdown narrowly overturned by replay). Next week Miami gets a Raiders defense that’s allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, so Ahmed is going to be a major difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs … It’s a shame the Jets’ loss may take away some gamesmanship possibilities during a Week 17 matchup with Belichick, who would presumably prefer not having Trevor Lawrence in his division moving forward … Cam Newton’s 209 passing yards marked his fourth-highest total of the season … Reigning DPOY Stephon Gilmore left with a non-contact injury that didn’t look good … The Dolphins with some trickery during a two-point conversion.
Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Team
Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett all had incredibly quiet and disappointing games against a Washington defense that continues to play extremely well, although the Seahawks were still able to win after entering just 1-3 over their last four road games. Imagine how WFT’s defense would be performing if they didn’t have to deal with such horrible quarterback play … Dwayne Haskins was bad, but Logan Thomas, Terry McLaurin, and J.D. McKissic were all boosted by volume. Can Washington please get Scary Terry a quarterback during the offseason? … Rashaad Penny returned for the first time this season, while Carlos Hyde finished with just two carries; one of them was Seattle’s longest run of the season.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
The Bears entered averaging 30.3 points since Mitch Trubisky reclaimed QB duties, and Chicago scored another 33 points during a crucial win in Minnesota on Sunday (the loser’s season was likely finished). Trubisky had a modest game thanks to only attempting 21 passes, as David Montgomery continued his onslaught on the league, only this time not against a defensive pushover. I apologize, Montgomery, you are better than I realized … Kirk Cousins finishes the year with 22 TD strikes at home, but he was unable to get “good guy” Adam Thielen involved much (just three targets) beyond a short score … Dalvin Cook ran for the most yards (132) against Chicago this season, as he builds his case to be the first pick in 2021 fantasy drafts … Irv Smith dropped a touchdown (although Cousins was close to being over the LOS), while Justin Jefferson continued to have one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in league history.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson had his second straight huge game despite taking a quarter off (this time thanks to a different kind of blowout), while Gardner Minshew’s second-half garbage stats still mattered plenty to some in Superflex leagues … Jacksonville had to leave its punter home, while James Robinson left late with an ankle injury. At least he had the decency of catching a touchdown before departing … J.K. Dobbins had a nice game, but it could’ve been more given his setup and opponent (and with Mark Ingram a healthy scratch) … Dez Bryant scored his first touchdown in more than three years, but Justin Tucker failed fantasy managers when he missed a 57-yard field goal try Sunday … The Jaguars lost the game but were ultimately Week 15’s biggest winners while moving to the #1 slot in the draft.
Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants
Baker Mayfield continues to be a good “game manager,” as Cleveland became the first team this season with two 95-yard touchdown drives during another win Sunday night … Nick Chubb ran in his 10th touchdown of the season despite missing four games with a sprained MCL and sharing work with Kareem Hunt. He’s without question one of the three best runners in football right now … Colt McCoy played an admirable game given the circumstances, somehow taking just one sack (that came very late) while committing no turnovers, but Wayne Gallman splitting work means zero Giants can be trusted in fantasy lineups over the rest of the year. Jarvis Landry has a 27% target share over the last four games and continues to peak at the right time for fantasy managers.