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Beware of Britt, Garcon in Week 15
Are you celebrating the arrival of the fantasy playoffs? Or, have you already turned your attention to the “Hot Stove League” and thoughts of spring training?
You’re just 62 days away at this point, so it’s not that far off on the horizon. You can still pick a side in your league’s playoffs and cheer for or against somebody contending for the title. No. I don’t believe that leagues allow things to end in scoreless ties.
Let’s pick up our dissection of Week 15 with another round of “Lineup Calls.” It’s time to dig deep and find heroes at wide receiver.
Danario Alexander vs. CAR
Alexander caught two touchdown passes in the Chargers’ shocking road win over the Steelers. He’s become the go-to option for Philip Rivers in recent weeks, producing at least 74 receiving yards in five consecutive games.
The Carolina pass defense has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. I don’t anticipate a huge game out of Philip Rivers, whose yardage count has been down. However, Alexander has been a big-play provider against some of the best defenses in the game.
Mike Wallace at DAL
The return of Ben Roethlisberger led to a huge breakout performance from Wallace. He’d been struggling for weeks, but posted a huge two-touchdown day in the loss to San Diego. Roethlisberger’s availability puts Wallace in line for another sizable target count against the middling Dallas secondary. Following a hot start to the season, opponents have been able to move the ball more consistently down the stretch.
Marques Colston vs. TB
Colston’s production has been stymied of late. He’s produced 71 receiving yards or fewer in seven consecutive games, though he has scored three touchdowns during this stretch. Still, Colston is on the board this week against the sieve-like Tampa Bay pass defense. The Buccaneers have allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers, and I expect to see more of the same this week. Colston caught 7-of-10 targets for 73 yards and scored against the Buccaneers in Week 7.
Steve Smith at SD
Smith is experiencing a fantastic surge alongside Cam Newton down the stretch. He’s caught four or more passes in four consecutive games, including back-to-back 100-yard games. The Chargers have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers (162 yards per game).
Randall Cobb at CHI
The Green Bay offense hasn’t run roughshod over opponents as you’d expected coming into the season, but Cobb has established himself as a steady WR-2 option for owners. He’s caught three or more passes in 10 consecutive games, including a current four-game stretch in which Cobb’s caught a total of 26 passes. He’s the lone sure option in the injury-impacted Green Bay receiving corps, and I expect him to be active in this one (put James Jones on the “Ninja” list).
Cecil Shorts III at MIA
Shorts was upgraded to “probable” on Friday’s injury report, thereby putting our “All-Name Team” favorite in line for a playoff start. Shorts III had scored in four consecutive games prior to missing Week 14 because of a concussion. Since the Jaguars’ Week 6 Bye, Shorts III had scored or produced at least 77 receiving yards in six of his seven starts. Slot him as a mid-WR2 for this spot against the Dolphins.
Miles Austin vs. PIT
Dez Bryant is available for Week 15, thereby putting Austin in position for a big day against the banged-up Pittsburgh secondary (see Danario Alexander from Week 14). He’s tough to trust, having produced a single touchdown and fewer than 60 receiving yards in five consecutive games. Austin is on the board as a back-end WR2, but he’s hardly a rock-solid option.
Anquan Boldin vs. DEN
Boldin caught all three of his targets in Week 14 against the Falcons for 78 yards with two touchdowns. He’d produced five receptions for 81 yards and scored in the previous week against the Steelers (he’d logged 79 yards in the Week 12 game against Pittsburgh as well).
He’s been the most consistent receiver for Joe Flacco in recent weeks. With Torrey Smith locked up with Champ Bailey (see below), look for another big target count for Boldin as the Ravens try to keep pace with Peyton Manning.
Chris Givens vs. MIN
Givens was a huge “sleeper” option in Week 14, but he was limited to just 25 receiving yards on three catches (10 targets) by the Bills. He’d logged 16 receptions for 207 yards in the previous two weeks. The Vikings have been susceptible to big plays by second receivers all season long.
Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. KC
Heyward-Bey broke free for a 56-yard touchdown late in Week 14 against the Broncos to save an otherwise weak performance. He’s caught four or more passes in five of the past six weeks, producing three receptions of at least 46 yards during this stretch.
Heyward-Bey caught a single pass, a 32-yard touchdown, in the first meeting with the Chiefs.
Pierre Garcon at CLE
Garcon has been a beast for the Washington passing attack since rejoining the lineup. In the past three weeks, he’s caught 17 passes for 275 yards and has scored in each game. This is a difficult individual matchup against Joe Haden and the Cleveland pass defense. He still rates as a mid-WR2 option this week, but his upside is more limited.
Torrey Smith vs. DEN
I can’t trust Smith at this juncture. Smith has been invisible in the three of the Ravens’ past four games, producing just five receptions for 61 yards against the Steelers (twice) and Redskins. The big-play potential remains, as he did register a huge 144-yard effort against the Chargers in Week 12. Would you believe that it was only Smith’s second game with most than 46 receiving yards since Week 4?
He draws man-coverage from Champ Bailey this week and slide all the way down to No. 34 in my Week 15 rankings.
Kenny Britt vs. NYJ
Britt has produced for trusting fantasy owners in the past three weeks. He scored in Weeks 12 and 13 before exploding for 143 yards on eight receptions against the Colts. This week, Britt squares off in an individual matchup against Antonio Cromartie. The Jets have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
I don’t know that the weather will necessarily be a factor on Sunday (chance of showers listed at the moment), but I can’t trust Jennings as anything more than a mid-WR3 against Chicago. I want to see him more involved and active in the passing game before reinserting him into the lineup.
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