Mick’s Pick Six: Week 15 Streamers
We have reached the semifinals in fantasy football, but there has been no shortage of drama as the season has unfolded. We saw some inexplicable duds by fantasy studs at the most inopportune time last week. If you have survived to this week, congratulations and buckle up. This week figures to be another bumpy ride. It seems like prominent players left and right are dealing with one injury or another. Because of this, streamers are a high commodity. I have listed a player at each position (with a bonus pick at the end) who is worthy of consideration this week given their availability and matchup. Here’s hoping you can grab that hidden gem who will help you make the Championship Round. These are my Week 15 Streamers.
Week 15 Streamers
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Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills v. Detroit Lions
Quarterback is the one position where finding Week 15 streamers is probably not necessary. Sure, Carson Wentz is likely out of action due to a back injury, but I doubt there are a ton of teams still alive who were utilizing Wentz as their starter. Still, Ben Roethlisberger has yet to practice this week with sore ribs, so it’s not as if there is zero cause for concern at the quarterback position. If you are in the market for a one-week rental, I would lean towards Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. The rookie is owned in just 42 percent of leagues heading into Week 15.
Like Hulkamania in the ’80s, Allen continues to run wild. He is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to rush for at least 100 yards in consecutive games. He would have turned the trick in three straight, but a pair of kneel-downs at the end of Week 12 brought his total against Jacksonville to 99. Allen finished as the QB15 in standard leagues last week despite turning the ball over three times and failing to record a passing touchdown. Allen had been a top-four fantasy quarterback the two weeks prior. This week Allen and the Buffalo Bills host the Detroit Lions in a winnable matchup.
Detroit is an interesting matchup for Allen. On one hand, they have allowed the fewest rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks in the league and they have the fourth-best adjusted sack rate. On the other hand, they just lost defensive end Ezekiel Ansah for the season, and Buffalo has precious little running game outside of Allen to speak of. LeSean McCoy is on the wrong side of a questionable tag and has only averaged 3.3 yards per carry this season anyway. Backup Chris Ivory has averaged just 3.4 yards per rush. Allen will likely continue his pattern of looking to run after evaluating his first read in the passing game. He has the athleticism to avoid the rush and make big plays with his legs. It will not always be pretty, but Josh Allen is a borderline QB1 in this game.
Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons v. Arizona Cardinals
The running back position is in such a state of flux that NFL teams and fantasy owners alike are scrambling to find band-aids to cover gaping wounds. Of the top-24 fantasy running backs in standard leagues this season, nearly half have at least some questions regarding their Week 15 status. That leads to plenty of anxious moments as owners seek the latest news and notes regarding their players. I think that Ito Smith of the Atlanta Falcons is a player to seriously consider this week. Smith is banged up in his own right but participated in a limited practice session on Wednesday. He should be able to take the field in a great matchup when Atlanta hosts the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona continues to be a defense to attack on the ground. They have allowed the most rushing yards and the most rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in 2018. Atlanta’s season has slipped away, and they seem to be pivoting away from Tevin Coleman a bit. Smith has out-touched and out-gained Coleman in consecutive weeks. This is something worth monitoring as Coleman approaches free agency. I would not be surprised to see the fourth-round rookie receive even more work this week. Smith’s floor is quite low, but he is at least worth an add. He is rostered in just 41 percent of leagues. I believe Smith should be picked up where available. Owners can then decide on Sunday whether to start him based on the availability of their other running backs. I would consider Smith a low-end Flex play at the moment.
Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers v. Seattle Seahawks
Prior to Thanksgiving, second-round rookie, Dante Pettis struggled with injury and inconsistency throughout his rookie campaign. But Pettis has really turned it on down the stretch of the season, as veterans Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin have dealt with injuries of their own. Pettis has seen seven targets in each of the last three games. He has posted three consecutive top-18 fantasy finishes and scored a total of four touchdowns during that stretch. Pettis will look to continue his recent momentum in Week 15 when the San Francisco 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC West tilt.
Pettis has proven he has considerable upside in recent weeks. In fact, his best finish, a 129-yard, two touchdown game which netted him Week 13’s overall WR1 result, came against the Seahawks. He does not have the breakaway speed that many receivers possess, but he leads the NFL in Player Profiler’s Target Separation metric. Pettis is still available in nearly half of all Fantrax leagues. He is currently active in just a quarter of leagues. His recent results and target share have been consistent enough for him to warrant WR3 treatment this week. Another top overall finish is not likely, of course. But Pettis should be started in most leagues given his recent success and potential to deliver another big game in this matchup.
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers v. New Orleans Saints
With Greg Olsen sidelined for the remainder of 2018 with a foot injury, rookie tight end Ian Thomas has helped to pick up the slack. Thomas is not the downfield threat that Olsen has been for so many years. But he has proven to be a safety valve for quarterback Cam Newton. Thomas garnered five targets following Olsen’s Week 13 departure, then saw a whopping 11 targets in last week’s loss in Cleveland. That usage gives Thomas a place atop the Week 15 streamers at the black hole known as the tight end position.
Thomas does not have a particularly favorable matchup this week. The New Orleans Saints have allowed the fewest receiving yards to opposing tight ends this year. But volume is king in fantasy, and Thomas has seemingly earned enough trust among Newton and offensive coordinator Norv Turner to be considered this week. Last week, Cameron Brate caught two touchdowns against the Saints, so it’s not as if they are impervious. Thomas is rostered in just 18 percent of leagues and is currently active in only six percent. For those who own the now-injured Jordan Reed or who are otherwise unsatisfied with their tight end, Ian Thomas makes for a nice low-risk play this week.
Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos v. Cleveland Browns
As always, there are plenty of solid kicking options available to choose from this week. Instead of selecting Michael Badgley for what seems like the tenth week in a row, I am going to choose another AFC West kicker for submission into the Week 15 streamers conversation. I am picking Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos. Denver hosts Cleveland on Saturday night. The Broncos are a three-point favorite with an implied total of around 24 points. That is solid enough for him to be considered this week.
McManus has strangely not converted multiple field goals in a game since Week 6, but I expect him to buck that trend this week. He also has the benefit of kicking in Denver’s thin air. This is something to consider in leagues where field goal distance comes into play. McManus has only hit on two of six attempts outside of 50 yards this season. But those are the only four kicks he has missed (field goals or extra points) all season long. He has been solid but just needs more opportunities. If Denver can get him into range, he can put up some points in this game. McManus is available in 69 percent of leagues as we approach Week 15.
Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills
The Detroit Lions are sitting in the basement in the NFC North and are starting to prep for next season. They have been a wildly inconsistent unit throughout the year, but they have been quite productive of late. Detroit has been a top-14 D/ST unit in three of the last four games and held the potent offenses of the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams to an average of just 304 yards of offense in Weeks 12 and 13. They followed that up last week by holding Arizona to just three points and scoring a defensive touchdown. This week they travel to face another rookie quarterback this week when they take on the Buffalo Bills.
The Buffalo Bills have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing defenses during the 2018 season. As prolific as Josh Allen has been running the football in recent weeks, his passing results have been sporadic at best. He has completed half of his passes and averaged just 199 passing yards over his last three games. Allen has also turned the ball over five times during that span. All of this makes Detroit a viable D/ST streamer this week. They are available in 75 percent of leagues and are currently active in just 12 percent. As Week 15 streamers go, Detroit’s defense makes for a solid pickup in advance of this favorable matchup.
Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs v. Los Angeles Chargers
Admit it – as the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers were streaking their way towards the top of the AFC food chain over the last couple of months and heading on a collision course culminating in this week’s Thursday night showdown that may very well decide the conference’s top seed, the matchup that had you salivating most was the running back clash of Justin Jackson versus Damien Williams. Wait, what?
Melvin Gordon has been sidelined since Week 12 with a sprained MCL. He did participate in a limited practice on Tuesday and traveled to Kansas City, but his Week 15 status is very much in doubt. Gordon’s primary backup, Austin Ekeler, has been ruled out due a neck injury and concussion. If Gordon is unavailable, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome would be the last men standing in the Los Angeles backfield. The rookie duo has combined for 32 career carries. In Kansas City, the Chiefs turned to Spencer Ware following the release of Kareem Hunt, only for Ware to pick up shoulder and hamstring injuries in last week’s overtime victory. Ware is doubtful for Thursday night’s game, leaving Damien Williams as the next man up.
Williams earned a very fluky top-10 fantasy finish a week ago on the strength of two short touchdowns. He gained just 30 yards from scrimmage in the win. But he did earn a dozen touches, and that number should increase quite a bit with Ware unlikely to play. The Chargers have been a middle of the road defense against the run, but have struggled to contain pass-catching production to opposing running backs this season. They have allowed the fifth-most catches and fourth-most receiving yards to enemy backs on the year. This is an area Williams has always been adept at throughout his career. He has more receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in his five NFL seasons than he does on the ground.
The list of running backs who are either unavailable or highly questionable for Week 15 is increasing by the day. Despite the minefield that currently is the running back position, the news surrounding Ware, and the favorable matchup, Williams is still available in 82 percent of leagues and is active in just three percent heading into Thursday. I had Williams as an RB3 in my Week 15 rankings when Ware was considered day-to-day and would bump him up a notch should Ware indeed sit this week. If you do not want to risk waiting until Sunday to see if your running back will suit up, pick up Damien Williams now and slot him in as your RB2. He may just help you make it to your fantasy championship round.
Mick Ciallela has been writing for FantraxHQ since July 2017. He has also written for Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong sports fan and has been an avid fantasy sports player for many years. Mick was the Overall Champion of both the 2016 Football Challenge – Roto and 2017 Play 3 Football contests hosted by CDM Sports. Mick was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York and currently resides in New London, Connecticut.
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