We have an even split of games this week with half of the games at 4pm EST or later. The biggest AFC playoff implications are in the Broncos-Steelers showdown, as each team looks to be trending in a different direction. While the Steelers are surging, the Broncos offensive struggles continue. Another intriguing matchup is the Cardinals-Eagles Sunday night, as Arizona looks to wrap up the division, while the Eagles are out to prove they belong in playoff discussions after winning 2 straight.
Calvin Johnson, DET @ NO, $6,900 – Calvin enters the week ranked 13th in the NFL in receptions (71), receiving yards (981), and TDs (7). Productive figures, yet most people expect more from Megatron who hasn’t registered a 100-yard receiving effort since Week 6. On a positive note, Johnson has shined in his last 2 primetime performances with 4 TDs, including a hat trick on Thanksgiving Day. He looks to extend this success on Monday Night Football in the Superdome, facing the Saints swiss cheese defense that’s allowed the 2nd most YPG in the NFL (415). In recent weeks, they have let the Giants, Redskins, and Panthers all score 40+ points. This bodes well for the Lions in what projects to be a high-scoring affair. It’s rare to consider Johnson a value play, but he is currently priced 10th among WRs, at a $1,600 discount from Week 1.
Matthew Stafford, DET @ NO, $6,100 – Continuing with the same theme, Stafford should have a nice day with his pick of weapons aside from Johnson, including Golden Tate, Theo Riddick, and Ameer Abdullah. Although his efforts have only led to 4 wins this season, Stafford has had success of late with 9 TD passes in the past 3 weeks. He gets a great matchup against a Saints who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs, and give up an average of 279 passing yards per game. Combine that with the Saints offense scoring 62 points the past 2 games, and this one is likely to be a track meet that may come down to who has the ball last. Despite the opponent, Stafford is priced outside of the Top 10 QBs, and is also $900 cheaper than when the season opened.
David Johnson, ARI @ PHI, $5,700 – The 3rd rounder from Northern Iowa has quietly produced an impressive rookie campaign, making his mark early in the passing game and on special teams with 9 combined TDs. He has been featured the past 2 weeks averaging 20-plus carries and 19 fantasy points. This number would be even higher if he didn’t drop a sure touchdown at the goal line last week. Johnson possesses a truly elite blend of size and speed and could surge into the Top 10 of the position by season’s end. His stock is already skyrocketing as evidenced from his $1,400 price jump since Week 14. He looks to be one of the premier RB plays this week against an Eagles defense ranked 28th against the run, allowing 127 YPG. Even if Andre Ellington returns, Johnson will get the bulk of the work and is an electric playmaker set to become a household name soon.
Jeremy Hill, CIN @ SF, $5,000 – It’s been a trick-or-treat type of season for Hill, who has mustered up more bad performances than good ones. Looking at his 7-carry workload from last week where he was only on the field for 33% of the Bengals’ offensive snaps, starting him sounds ill advised, but the matchup is just that good. The 49ers allow the most fantasy PPG to opposing RBs and are 31st against the run surrendering 113 YPG. Even the underwhelming Isaiah Crowell gashed them last week for 145 yards and 2 scores. Hill tends to score in bunches and with 9 TDs on the year, and will look to get into double digits against a generous opponent. Due to his struggles, he can be plugged in at a bargain bin price of $2,100 less than his tag on Week 1.
Antonio Gates, MIA @ SD, $4,600 – With the Dolphins allowing a 100-yard receiver in 6 of their last 7 games, the outlook is bright this week for the Phillip Rivers’ favorite target. In a contest that very well could be Rivers’ last ever home game in San Diego; Gates should lead the air attack. He has finished with 6 or more catches in 5 of 8 games this year, and has also chipped in with 4 TDs. With potential relocation talks looming, this has the makings of a pride game for the Chargers who have endured a forgettable season. I expect big things from Gates and Rivers against a beatable secondary ranking 26th against the pass allowing 259 YPG. Gates is priced as the 9th TE this week at $3,100 less than Gronk.
Tyler Lockett, CLE @ SEA, $4,200 – On paper, Lockett looks like a no-brainer play this week. He has been a major beneficiary of the season-ending injury to Jimmy Graham, and has proven that he is more than just a special teams threat. In the 2 games without Graham, Lockett has hauled in 13 of 14 targets for 194 yards and 2 scores. Hosting the 26th ranked Browns defense allowing 385 YPG, this production should continue. Everytime he touches the ball he has a chance to go the distance and the Seahawks have clearly expanded his role. It is likely that Seattle leans on the passing game given their state of flux in the backfield, after the losses of Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls. At a price barely in the Top 40 among WRs, he is a low-cost high upside option for Week 15.
More to Consider
Phillip Rivers, MIA @ SD, $5,500
Eddie Lacy, GB @ OAK, $5,200
John Brown, ARI @ PHI, $4,900
Theo Riddick, DET @ NO, $4,000
Anquan Boldin, CIN @ SF, $3,900
Clive Walford, GB @ OAK, $2,600