Week 14 stands a good chance to be remembered as the weekend the season’s fortunes – in fantasy and reality – were irrevocably altered by injuries to major players.
On Thursday night, Saints stud running back Alvin Kamara was lost to a concussion on his team’s first offensive series. Then on Sunday afternoon, high-flying Eagles QB Carson Wentz was KO’d by a torn ACL late in the third quarter of a win over the Rams.
Wentz already had made his fantasy day and set Philly’s huge road triumph in motion with four touchdown passes, but the Wentz-less implications going forward figure to cut as deep as they do wide – both in the remainder of the fantasy postseason and the overall league outlook on through Super Bowl LII.
At the same time, though, it was a Sunday of redemption in many ways as the likes of Jordan Howard (155 total yards, 2 TDs), Kareem Hunt (138, 1), Dak Prescott (season-high 332 passing yards, 3 TDs), Demaryius Thomas (8 receptions-93 yards-1 TD) and Golden Tate (8-85-1) followed up recent slumps and stumbles to dole out rewarding dividends to those fantasy general managers willing to roll the dice and/or keep the patience.
Whatever may be the case, though, the fantasy postseason rolls on and there is no shortage of statistics to sift through. So let’s delve deeper into the significant stats, notable numbers and illuminating integers of the weekend and figure out what they mean for your Week 15 fantasy fortunes – and (hopefully) beyond.
AFC West QBs headed in opposite directions
Phillip Rivers threw for 319 yards and a pair of scores Sunday in directing the Chargers to a 30-13 rout of the Redskins and their seventh win in their last nine games.
A fringe fantasy starter for the majority of the fantasy regular season, Rivers has heated up as the weather has cooled, throwing for at least 319 yards in each of his last three games while tossing multiple TD passes in four of his last five outings.
In contrast, Rivers notched only two 300-yard passing outings in his first 10 games and had multiple scoring passes in four of first eight contests.
But as wide receiver Keenan Allen has caught fire – on Sunday he had his fourth straight 100-yard receiving game – of course so has the QB throwing the passes, and against Washington, Rivers was a combined 14-of-18 for 293 yards and two TDs when targeting Allen, fellow WR Tyrell Williams and talented second-year tight end Hunter Henry.
And then there’s the quite-favorable remainder of the Bolts’ regular-season schedule, which pits Rivers and Co. against the Chiefs, Jets and Raiders – three top-half teams in terms of the most fantasy points surrendered to opposing quarterbacks. Keep riding Rivers and the Chargers’ passing game and keep reaping the fantasy rewards.
Meanwhile, things continue to trend in the opposite direction for Rivers’ division QB counterpart in Oakland.
Going against the Marcus Peters-less Chiefs in a prime fantasy matchup Sunday, the Raiders’ Derek Carr completed only 24-of-41 passes for 211 yards, one TD and two interceptions – and most of those numbers came in fourth-quarter prevent-defense time, long after the game had been decided.
Now, sure, in the end garbage-time stats carry the same fantasy weight as any other stats but as a whole, Carr’s weekly numbers have brought nothing but deep disappointment more often than not this season.
In 12 starts – he missed one to an early-season back issue – Carr only has produced three 300-yard games and four multi-TD pass outings. And over his last 10 games, Carr has finished as a top-12 weekly fantasy QB only once.
If you’ve been missing Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers and/or now Wentz, Carr might seem to be your only QB option, but after another dud of a Sunday, it’s worth your while to take another long look at your waiver wire and make sure there really are no better options.
Tale of 2 wideouts
The Colts’ T.Y. Hilton and the 49ers’ Marquise Goodwin are both speed-burning wide receivers playing with young quarterbacks on woeful teams.
But the similarities end there – at least when it comes to fantasy production.
In Sunday’s snowy overtime loss in Buffalo, Hilton caught two passes for 20 yards on four targets. Sure the wintry conditions were not exactly conducive to passing, but Hilton’s performance was merely another bust in a season filled with too few booms.
It’s actually been quite crazy.
Hilton has finished with least 14.1 point-per-reception points in four games, but in his other nine, he’s had 8.9 or fewer.
To break it down even further, 19 of Hilton’s 43 catches, 505 of his 811 yards and three of his four TD grabs on the season have come in just three games. Doing the quick math, that’s a whopping 59 percent of his 148.1 PPR points in just three games.
Again, just far too many busts and not enough booms to trust T.Y. in the fantasy postseason.
Goodwin, meanwhile, continued his late-season surge, reeling in six of his team-high 12 targets – no other San Fran pass-catcher had more than four – for 106 yards in Sunday’s win in Houston.
That gives Goodwin 36 targets, 21 receptions, 434 yards and a TD over his last five games, including a 20 target-14-catch-205-yard combined stat line in the two contests since Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the Niners’ starting QB.
That makes Goodwin the clear No. 1 wideout in a pass-friendly offense with an up-and-coming quarterback throwing the ball. What’s not to like for the rest of the season?
- Reminiscent of his 2015 late-season surge, Jags QB Blake Bortles now has accounted for at least 222 yards of total offense multiple TDs in three straight games after his 268-yards, 2-passing-score outing Sunday in the big home win over the Seahawks. At the same time, he’s avoided the killer mistakes with only one interception over his last four outings.
- Even with Nick Foles now throwing the passes in Philly, look the Eagles’ tight ends to remain heavily involved – perhaps even more so. Through 13 games, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Brent Celek have combined to catch 86 of 130 targets for 992 yards and 12 TDs for a league-leading average of 19.8 fantasy points (PPR) per outing. And even in the two games Ertz – fantasy’s No. 3 tight end with 9.85 standard-scoring and 15.03 PPR points per game – has missed due to injury, Burton has filled in big time with seven receptions for 112 yards and three TDs while the veteran Celek has chipped in with a 4-44-1 stat line.
- While the Raiders’ passing game is floundering and falling short of expectations, RB Marshawn Lynch continues to gain late-season steam. Even with only eight touches Sunday in K.C., Lynch produced 12.4 fantasy points with 64 total yards and a TD – his fifth score in his last five games. In those five contests, Lynch also has rushed 75 times for 353 yards and added another 82 yards on nine catches, ranking him as a top-20 RB in four of those five weeks.
- Rookie RB Jamaal Williams continues to be a key cog in the Packers’ late-season surge with 118 yards and two TDs on 22 touches Sunday in Cleveland. Only Le’Veon Bell (129) and Leonard Fournette (115) have logged more touches than Williams’ 113 over the last five weeks and, among RBs, only Kamara (97.5) and Bell (92.5) have totaled more standard-scoring fantasy points than Williams’ 84.5. Fellow Green Bay rookie back Aaron Jones wasn’t a factor Sunday with just four rushes and no receptions Sunday for a minus-2 yards.
- Speaking of RB workloads, the Buffalo snow resulted in two career days for a pair of veteran backs. The Colts’ Frank Gore rushed the ball a career-most 36 times for 130 yards, while Bills counterpart LeSean McCoy also established a career high in rushing attempts with 32 for 156 yards and the game-winning TD dash in overtime. And those career highs, mind you, came in the 193rd game in Gore’s career and the 130th for McCoy. Meanwhile, two backs combined for only one catch on one target for 10 yards (Gore) as McCoy was not targeted for the first time this season. Something to keep in mind with any upcoming snow games forecast for the final three weeks of the season.
- Most of the Ravens’ recent offensive uptick has been powered by Alex Collins and the ground game, but don’t overlook the late-season emergence of WR Mike Wallace, who’s now totaled at least 9.8 PPR points in five straight outings.
- Among the league target leaders over the last three weeks, the Eagles wideout Nelson Agholor checks in a surprising ninth with 29 while Jaguars rookie WR Dede Westbrook is tied for 13th with 27.
- On the wideout flip side, we have the Bucs’ Mike Evans who has picked a heck of a time for a slow stretch. In each of Tampa’s last two games, Evans has caught only two passes, and of the 69 targets, 555 yards and four TDs Jameis Winston has thrown for the last two weeks, Evans has accounted for 11, 55 and zero of those totals, respectively.