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Week 15 Fantasy Football Roundtable: High Variance Plays

Week 14 was an abject disaster. If you were relying on some of the studs that got you to the playoffs, you were sweating all weekend. Hopefully, you survived to fight another week in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. But, Week 15 hasn’t started off any better. Patrick Mahomes had a lackluster night. Tyreek Hill and Keenan Allen were lineup killers. If you started any of them this week, your lineup could use some punch. To help, the Fantrax crew has looked into some high variance plays in the Week 15 fantasy football roundtable.

“It’s semi-finals weeks where you’re either coming off a first-round bye or survived Week 14 that was filled with catastrophic fantasy performances. But, now we’re looking at Week 15. Let’s assume your studs show up, but your squad still needs some punch. Who’s a low-owned or high variance player you’re considering for Week 15?”

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Fantasy Football Roundtable for Week 15

Mick Ciallela (@themick23):

If you had asked me this question a couple of weeks ago, I probably would not have had an answer. My roster is pretty solid, but I have picked up the injury bug of late. I have James Conner and Matt Breida, which has shortened my bench and limited my flexibility a bit. Right now I have Tarik Cohen as my RB1. Ideally, he would be in one of my two Flex spots. I don’t love the matchup, as Green Bay does a pretty good job of limiting receiving output from running backs. They have only given up 54 receptions (tied for third-fewest) and two receiving touchdowns to opposing backs this season. Hopefully, Cohen can overcome that and give me a solid 12-15 points.

My RB2 slot is still undecided. I am still holding out hope that either Conner or Breida will suit up, but I am not exactly optimistic. My other options are Theo Riddick, Chris Thompson, Ito Smith, and Ty Montgomery. It is a 0.5 PPR league, which helps a bit. None of these guys are bellcow backs by any stretch of the imagination. Smith tied his season high with 11 carries last week. Nobody else in this group has had more than eight carries in a single game. Smith also has the best rushing matchup, but I cannot pretend to be sure that this will lead to a breakout game.

When I drafted Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, I definitely did not expect to be sitting here in Week 15 debating the merits of the likes of Ito Smith and Ty Montgomery. Then again I also didn’t expect a bagel from Keenan Allen Thursday night. But fantasy football is all about how you adapt to circumstances that are constantly changing. Hopefully, I can continue to adjust and make it to the championship game next week.

Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX):

Of course. It’s the semi-finals and I started the guy that’s received 34 targets over the past 3 weeks. I started him with confidence! I sat down to watch the Chargers-Chiefs game looking for production from Keenan Allen. What was the result? A hip pointer injury with 0 receptions. That’s the variance you do not want to see going into the weekend.  So now I have to turn to the waiver wire.

It’s a half-point PPR league, but I’m still looking for a wide receiver. Running backs are scarce and any available RB has low touchdown equity based on either usage or matchup. Regardless, receivers embody weekly variance in fantasy football. Targets, yardage, and touchdowns all fluctuate due to an infinite number of variables. Running backs will typically give you a floor, but receivers can hit that ceiling on a single play depending on their skill set. Here’s where digging into the stats can help identify the variance plays with some reasonable accuracy. Targets and air yards are an easy way to see who’s on the rise and worth consideration. Now, there are no ‘Points per Airyard’ leagues but if the quarterback likes to get the receiver the ball, it’s likely the receiving yards will come. So, in Week 15, I’m looking to Michael Gallup of the Cowboys.

Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper have completely stolen the show with monstrous back-to-back games. Cooper has 472 receiving yards over the past 3 weeks with 235 yards of those coming after the catch. That means he’s had 277 air yards and used his athleticism to convert the remainder to what we see in the box score. Michael Gallup has 326 air yards over the same timespan. Dak Prescott has narrowly missed Gallup on several deep throws limiting his fantasy output. He’s also had a 20 percent target share indicating that the targets are not fluky on a week to week basis. The matchup also works in his favor. The Colts have limited the opposing WR1 the past three weeks putting Gallup in a prime position to produce. with the playoffs on the line, I’m looking to Gallup to boost my team in the semi-finals.

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