The five biggest fantasy football takeaways from Week 15 of the 2016 NFL season.
Other than Week 16, this week is the biggest week in all of fantasy football. Owners are just one win away from the finals, the glory and the money. Some of those owners have already clinched a victory and are headed to the championship round while others have tasted defeat.
Either way, Week 15 produced some expected and some not-so expected performances from players around the league and they clearly made the difference in some matchups this week.
Here are the five biggest fantasy football takeaways from Week 15.
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
5. Getting Cutesy with AD
When the news broke last Friday that Adrian Peterson was going to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, it was surprising. There was rumors and speculation that he could return in Week 16 after he got in some practice time, but even that wasn’t written in stone. Some fantasy owners saw this newfangled information and added Peterson to their fantasy team.
There’s nothing wrong with that transaction or thought process. Just because you added him to your team doesn’t mean you have to start him. Heck, maybe if he showed enough against the Colts, he could possibly be a FLEX player for some owners in Week 16. What was mind-boggling is roughly 30 percent of Yahoo and ESPN owners decided to start Peterson on Sunday.
If people didn’t remember, Peterson only had 50 rushing yards on 31 attempts before going down with an injury in Week 2. That comes out to 1.6 yards per carry. Since then, the Vikings lost multiple starters on their offensive line and their offensive coordinator. The fact people thought they could just plug him in fantasy lineups in his first game back from injury and expect production out of the guy is laughable. In the end, Peterson finished the game with six carries, 22 yards, a lost fumble and zero fantasy points.
If you’re an owner out there who decided to get cute with Peterson and lost by a handful of points this week, you 100 percent deserve it.
Dec 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a catch against Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay defeats Chicago 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
4. The Bears Are Difference Makers (in Fantasy)
After Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Bears are now 3-11 and are dead last in the NFC North. The truth is, the Bears haven’t been relevant this season in months. Yet, some of their players are helping owners on their way to fantasy glory.
Rookie running back Jordan Howard was a top-10 running back coming into Sunday’s game and he added to his totals when he finished with 113 total yards and a touchdown on 21 touches. At his current pace, he very well could finish the season as one of the seven or eight best fantasy running backs in 2016. If it wasn’t for the Bears lackluster season and/or another rookie running back stealing the show in Dallas, Howard would be getting a lot more attention.
Speaking of lackluster, the Bears No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery returned on Sunday from his four-game suspension. Before the suspension, he only had one game with 100+ receiving yards and only one touchdown on the season. The suspension was the final straw for a lot of owners and many tossed him to the curb like a week old water cup from McDonalds that we both know you filled up with soda. Some thirsty and desperate owners picked up Jeffery hoping to get something out the onetime superior wide receiver. On Sunday, he delivered his best game of the season when he finished with six receptions, 89 yards, one touchdown and 14 fantasy points.
Heck, in two quarterback leagues Matt Barkley is even making a difference. He has finished with 12+ fantasy points in back-to-back weeks and even put up a 20-spot in Week 12. It doesn’t sound like much but you know who can’t say that?
Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Erik Swoope (86) catches a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
3. Tight End Continues to be a Mess
Every week I expect the elite tight ends in the NFL to reclaim their dominance in fantasy production and every week there’s players who finish near the top who I’m not sure are real NFL players. This week is no different.
Going into Monday Night Football, the leading fantasy tight end is Miami Dolphins Dion Sims. In all fairness, he now has a touchdown in three out the last four games and tied as the third-best fantasy tight end in Week 12. Still, number one?
Did you start the Indianapolis Colts tight end? No, I’m not talking about Dwayne Allen, who caught three touchdowns in Week 13. No, I’m not talking about Jack Doyle, who has actually been the best fantasy tight end on the Colts all season long. I’m talking about Erik Swoope, who is currently the fourth-best fantasy tight end this week.
What about Ryan Griffin, Charlie Kelly or Garrett Celek? Did you start any of them? I know for a fact a lot of you didn’t because one of them isn’t even a real NFL player—and I bet some of you can’t even tell me which one it is!
Why do we even try any more with the tight end position this season? In all seriousness, owners would probably find better production out of their tight end position if they let their opponent pick it for them.
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 48-41. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
2. Saints Rebound — Finally
You know the Saints are having trouble when fantasy owners are asking for advice on Twitter about if they should start Drew Brees or not. I’m not going to go as far as to say I believed owners should have contemplated it, but I certainly understood.
Before Sunday, Brees had 11 fantasy football points combined in his two previous games. He had more fantasy points in every individual week this season than those two weeks combined. Mark Ingram combined for just five fantasy points in Weeks 13-14 and just like Brees, he never had a two-game stretch as bad as those two weeks this season. Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas and Tim Hightower were also struggling and hurting fantasy owners.
However, they bounced back in a big way on Sunday.
Brees currently is the No. 1 fantasy quarterback for Week 15 due to his 389 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Brandin Cooks is not only the No. 1 wide receiver for Week 15, but he is also the No.1 overall player for the week. Michael Thomas was able to find the end zone as was Tim Hightower, who is currently a top-10 running back for the week.
Owners desperately needed a performance like this out of their Saints player this week, but the question is: Was it too late?
Dec 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) runs for a four yard touchdown during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
1. Thank You, Ty
Going into this week, I was very optimistic about Ty Montgomery because it seemed like everything was setting up for solid day for him. James Starks was likely going to be out with a concussion. Christine Michael was missing practice time/reps with an illness. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was less than 100 percent, so it was likely the team was going to rely on the running game a little more. The temperature in Chicago was so cold it was going to have a negative effect on the passing game. It was a perfect storm of fantasy delight for Montgomery.
However, what he actually did on the field on Sunday is something I did not see coming.
The Packers RB/WR finished the game with 16 carries, 162 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most rushing yards by any running back in Week 15. As a result, he finished with 28 fantasy points. Shockingly, his fantastic fantasy day was done with him making no real impact on the passing game as he finished with one receiving yard on two receptions. Keep in mind, he has had two separate games this season with 10 receptions.