Derrick Henry does it again, posting a second consecutive 30-point week
As we do each week, we recap the week’s best and worst from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: “Where has this been all season?” It’s a question Henry’s drafting fantasy managers are surely asking now, after the third-year running back amassed 30-plus PPR fantasy points on Sunday, the second consecutive week he has done so after he didn’t score more than 17.8 points in any of his previous 12 games. In scoring 30.2 points, to be exact, Henry became only the ninth player at any position to reach the 30-point plateau in both Weeks 14 and 15 — considered the two-week, semifinal round in ESPN standard leagues — since 1990, when bye weeks were introduced. Although few fantasy managers reaped the rewards of Henry’s 47.8-point performance on Week 14’s Thursday Night Football game, as he was started in only 14.6 percent of ESPN leagues, those still alive in the playoff hunt recognized his performance coupled with what was an exceptionally favorable matchup Sunday against the New York Giants and added him in 26.4 percent of leagues (fourth-most among all players in the past seven days) and started him in 51.8 percent, a 37.4 percent increase over Week 14 (14.6 percent). He now has 78.0 points in the past two weeks combined, which isn’t a far cry from his entire season total entering Week 14 (95.5), and his 173.5 total points this season places him among the top 20 at his position.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: It was a day of firsts/bests for the second-year Cook on Sunday. His 29.3 PPR fantasy points set a new personal best, exceeding the 27.9 points he scored in 2017 Week 3, and they gave him a fourth consecutive game with at least 15 points, the first time he has had a streak of that length in his young career. Cook scored multiple touchdowns (2) for the first time in his career, and he set a new career high with his 136 rushing yards. While he has been a huge, albeit-injury-influenced bust in fantasy this season, scoring only 128.2 points (outside the top 30 running backs) despite being selected the No. 13 player on average in the preseason, Cook has shown quite a bit of recovery in recent weeks that lends intrigue towards his 2019 draft stock.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: The “out-of-nowhere” star of Week 15 — an honor that belonged to Henry in Week 14 — Williams scored a career-high 36.5 PPR fantasy points on Saturday night. He was the primary benefactor of Keenan Allen’s (hip pointer) early absence due to injury, drawing nine targets, four of those on targets in the end zone, something to bear in mind should Allen be unable to recover in time for Week 16. While Williams didn’t lead the Chargers in total targets — Tyrell Williams had 12 — Mike Williams showed quite a rapport with Philip Rivers while getting open repeatedly in this game, which is certain to make him one of the most-added players in advance of next week. The Chargers do face an extremely challenging matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16, but Williams could still warrant WR3/flex consideration, especially if Allen sits.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: For the third time in his past four games, Mixon scored at least 20 PPR fantasy points, his 27.0 points third-best among running backs from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games. Unlike some of the other names on this week’s “best” list, he was one who found himself on a good share of ESPN standard league playoff teams, as he was rostered on 44.3 percent of those that qualified. As Mixon scored a combined 51.8 points in Weeks 14-15, chances are that a good share of his teams will find themselves in their leagues’ finals matchups, and he’ll enjoy another favorable matchup to begin that one in Week 16, facing the Cleveland Browns. Mixon was started in 94.3 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15, seventh-highest among running backs.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: The highest-scoring quarterback from Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET games, Ryan’s 25.0 fantasy points were his best total since Week 9 (28.0), and they gave him nine games worth 20-plus this season, matching his career-best number of such games from 2016 (also nine). Better yet: Ryan became the only quarterback to score 20-plus points in both Weeks 14 and 15, which is excellent news for the 44.1 percent of ESPN standard-league playoff teams that had him on their rosters. In a rebound season for the veteran quarterback, he’s proving to be one of the year’s best values.
Atlanta Falcons defense/special teams: Their 22 fantasy points might not have been a season high — seven D/STs this year have scored more in a week — but the Falcons D/ST was a clear winner for Week 15 because they were the most popular streaming choice and delivered that outstanding point total. Only Damien Williams (45.3 percent increase) was added more often in the past seven days than the Falcons D/ST, and this unit was started in 44.1 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15, which was ninth-highest at the position. The opposing Arizona Cardinals has been an excellent matchups target for opposing D/STs, so be aware that the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks are their final two opponents of 2018.
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: While his 21.9 PPR fantasy points hardly seemed like an eye-popping total, especially not for a player started in 98.6 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15 (fourth-highest among wide receivers) and one who has scored more than that in four other games this season, consider this more of a “season-long” honor. In scoring that many points, Adams became the first wide receiver this season to get to 300, as he now has 305.5 points to overtake Tyreek Hill for the positional lead (with an extremely slim chance that anyone else can catch him by week’s end).
Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: The week’s Thursday Night Football star, Williams earned the start — the fifth in his 72-game NFL career — with Kareem Hunt no longer on the team and Spencer Ware (hamstring) inactive, scoring a game-best as well as personal-best 30.3 PPR fantasy points. As mentioned above, Williams was the most-added player in ESPN leagues during the past week, added in 45.3 percent, and he was active in 36.1 percent of leagues and probably helped many of those teams bold enough to start him into their championship matchups. He’d face an above-average matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 should Ware be unable to play.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts: In one of the week’s more unexpected outcomes, the Colts shut out the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, winning 23-0, with Mack’s 25.9 PPR fantasy points playing a huge part in the victory. He set a career high with 27 rushing attempts, giving him the workhorse look he had before the team’s Week 9 bye (44 total attempts the two games before thart), and scored two touchdowns in the process. The healthy return of center Ryan Kelly played a large part in Mack’s rebound to fantasy relevance, and the timing is huge considering the Colts next draw the most favorable matchup for a running back in the New York Giants. Mack should be active as an RB2 in almost every league.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: The big star of the pre-Sunday games, Hopkins’ 39.0 PPR fantasy points on Saturday afternoon were the second-most he has scored in any of his 93 career NFL games, and they ranked among the 20 best single-game scores of 2018. In doing so, he pushed his season total to 287.4 points, which vaulted him into third place at his position (though Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown have outside chances at recapturing their leads over him in upcoming games, while a few others could pass him with huge point totals). Hopkins needs 43.7 points in his final two games to exceed his previous single-season best of 331.1 (2015), and assuming that the ankle injury he suffered in the game doesn’t hamper him, he has a golden opportunity to rack up a hefty point total in a favorable matchup against the injury-riddled Philadelphia Eagles secondary in Week 16.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: His season started on a near-record pace, yet has slowed to the point of a mere whimper, as Thielen’s 3.9 PPR fantasy points on Sunday represented by far a season low for him (his previous low was 12.7 in Week 9). It was the third consecutive week he was held to fewer than 15 points. Thielen merely wasn’t needed to do much in this one, as Kirk Cousins attempted only 21 passes in a game the Vikings dominated, winning 41-17. Assuming the Vikings don’t run away with their Week 16 game at the Detroit Lions as well, the extremely favorable matchup should afford Thielen the opportunity to rebound in a big way — assuming, of course, his managers advance despite his low score.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: While Prescott was started in only 27.3 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15 (14th-highest among quarterbacks), his 6.2 fantasy point performance had to nevertheless be considered one of the week’s biggest letdowns. He was generally regarded a solid start — the lower start percentage is more of a product of more prominent names being used ahead of him — but in a shocking development, he registered zero rushing yards on exactly zero attempts. It was only the third time in his 46 career games that he failed to attempt a run. Prescott should rebound somewhat in a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16, but he’s still only a QB2.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts: He picked a bad week to go quiet, as he was started in 87.9 percent of ESPN leagues, fifth-highest among tight ends, as his managers recognized his favorable matchup against the Dallas Cowboys (15.0 PPR fantasy points per game allowed to tight ends entering the week, seventh-highest in the leagues). Ebron scored only 1.8 points on three targets, the second time in the past five weeks he offered his teams practically nothing — though he was shut out in the other game in Week 11. In his defense, the Colts didn’t need to pass often in this one, so Ebron should still warrant TE1 consideration in future weeks, should his teams advance.
Doug Martin, RB, Oakland Raiders: A popular streaming choice among running backs, added in 9.5 percent of ESPN leagues within the past seven days and started in 44.5 percent of leagues (23rd-highest at the position), Martin scored just 3.9 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, his worst single-game total since before the Raiders’ Week 7 bye. While game flow had something to do with it — the Raiders lost, 30-16, and trailed by multiple scores for the majority of the game — Martin has now averaged only 2.8 yards per carry in his past two games, casting doubt upon his utility for the remainder of the year.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: For the second time in the past three weeks, Luck was held beneath 10 fantasy points, scoring only 9.7 on Sunday. It wasn’t, however, the type of performance where he should absorb heavy criticism, as the Colts had a run-heavy approach in a blowout win, with Luck attempting only 27 passes, the second-fewest he has had in a game all season (23, Week 7) and tied for the seventh-fewest he had had in any of his 84 career games. Luck has been shut out in the passing touchdown department in Weeks 13 and 15, however, and the Colts have another matchup in Week 16 that is conducive to a run-heavy approach. Be cautious not to expect too much from him next week.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons: He was shut out on the fantasy scorecard on one target, letting down his managers who started him in 50.5 percent of ESPN leagues, seventh-highest among tight ends. Hooper’s performance was reflective of what was a terrible block of 1 p.m. ET games for tight end scoring, as no one scored more than 15.5 PPR fantasy points (Evan Engram), and it extended what has been a pattern of dominance against the position by the Arizona Cardinals defense. Hooper did enter the week facing questions about his knee and ankle, which caused him to miss some of the practice week, so perhaps those issues were bigger than let on. He faces an excellent matchup in Week 16 at the Carolina Panthers, but will need his health monitored closely beforehand.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He was started in 43.8 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15, eighth-highest among tight ends, as his managers probably viewed his game against the Baltimore Ravens as one in which his quarterback, Jameis Winston, would probably need to utilize the “safety valve” of throwing to his tight end. Brate delivered his teams only 1.9 PPR fantasy points on two targets, as Winston simply could not get anything going on offense. Fortunately, the Buccaneers draw the aforementioned Dallas Cowboys in Week 16, which is a considerably more favorable matchup for the team and Brate specifically. If you advance beyond Week 15, consider him a low-end TE1.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders: He was another of the many tight ends to go bust in Week 15, scoring 4.3 PPR fantasy points on five targets despite facing a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has been one of the league’s worst during the second half of the season. It was Cook’s worst single-game point total since Week 9 (4.0). He does get a much more favorable matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 15, and still warrants low-end TE1 consideration.