Fantasy Football Bye Week: Reloading Your Roster for Week 15
Winning Your Semifinal Fantasy Football Matchup
You’ve finished toward the top of your fantasy football league and have earned the right to take the week off. Much like real NFL teams, however, your preparation should not stop just because you don’t have a matchup this week. Even if you went undefeated during the fantasy regular season there are minor tweaks you can make to improve your chances at winning your league.
In the following slides you’ll find five players that are available in at least 75 percent of Yahoo leagues that have a favorable matchup in Week 15. While the other owners in your league make moves just to survive the first round of the postseason you have the opportunity to land some difference makers for the semifinals, thus giving you yet another advantage.
Maybe your roster doesn’t need much help. Maybe you’ve got a starting unit that sparked a late season winning streak and you don’t want to rock the boat. If that’s the case, every team can benefit from adding depth. The five listed players can serve as insurance options should you count on a player whose status is up in the air (Aaron Rodgers, Steven Ridley, Rashad Jennings, Denarius Moore, etc.) or fill roster spot that has held you back from huge weeks in the past (Colin Kaepernick, Lamar Miller, Hakeem Nicks, etc.).
At the very least, these are players you don’t want an upset minded opponent to have. They aren’t the safest of options, but if you’re squaring off against a fantasy team that went .500 during the regular season they are very likely to roll the dice on a few upside players. If you have a roster spot to spare you have no reason not to pick up these players.
QB: EJ Manuel
E.J. Manuel at Jacksonville Jaguars - 8 percent owned
The Jags have given up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including monster days from Brandon Weeden (375 yards and three touchdowns), Carson Palmer (416 yards and two touchdowns), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (277 yards and three touchdowns) over the last month. For really the first time this season, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson looked like a viable backfield duo which has the potential to open things up for Manuel. His two primary receiving weapons (Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods) figure to be fully healthy by kickoff, and with the emergence of Marquise Goodwin this offense has reasonable upside when opposing a below average defense like the Jaguars. I also like the fact that Manuel avoids the harsh December Buffalo weather making his legs a viable threat.
RB: LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount at Miami Dolphins - 7 percent owned
The running back position in New England seems to be fluid at this point, but sources close to the team have suggested that Stevan Ridley has lost his role as the alpha dog in the backfield. Shane Vereen is the most valuable fantasy running back either way, but the Patriots have always been a team that likes to pound the ball, something that doesn’t really fit the skill set of Vereen. Blount isn’t a supremely talented player, but his size (6-foot 250-pounds) and running style make him a threat to touch the ball 15 times as well as the primary goal line threat. The Dolphins are limiting opposing quarterbacks to the fourth fewest fantasy points making this a situation that Blount can provide sneaky RB2 numbers.
WR: Dexter McCluster
Dexter McCluster at Oakland Raiders - 9 percent owned
In 12 games, 14 receivers have notched at least six catches against the Raiders this season. Not a bad defense to oppose for a receiver who has stepped his game up (along with Alex Smith) in the past few weeks (26 catches on 38 targets over the past five weeks after just 16 on 31 in the first seven games). He has a 6.9 aDOT for the season, proving that the Chiefs are looking to get him the ball quick and let him make plays in the open field. Smith is a check-down machine (Jamaal Charles leads all running backs with 87 targets), which means McCluster is going to continue to get looks.
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Philadelphia Eagles - 25 percent owned
The Eagles have given up the most fantasy points to fantasy receivers this season, and while the Vikings' pass game obviously leaves a lot to be desired, Patterson is their big play option. As usual, the focus will be on stopping Adrian Peterson, something that should leave the rookie in single coverage all afternoon. Players like Michael Floyd, Aldrick Robinson, Jarrett Boykin, and Rod Streater have gashed this defense over the last four games. Patterson has found the end zone via rush, reception, and return, and while he hasn’t excelled in any one area the multitude of ways for him to touch the ball is nice for his fantasy value. He’s been targeted 24 times over the last three weeks (only 28 targets prior), indicating to me that Minnesota is trying to see what they have in the youngster for the future. At this point I'm assuming that Christian Ponder (concussion) is back under center for this contest.
WR: Jacoby Jones
Jacoby Jones at Detroit Lions - 15 percent owned
The Lions are the fourth worst defense when it comes to defending opposing wide receivers, and if you need a home run threat there is not a player I’d rather own. The Lions have given up eight pass plays of at least 40 yards over the last six weeks, including a three-catch, 108-yard, two-touchdown effort to a lesser talented Tiquan Underwood (not to mention that Mike Glennon isn’t quite Joe Flacco when it comes to throwing the deep ball). Much like Patterson, Jones can help your fantasy team in a variety of ways (as long as Mike Tomlin doesn’t get in the way), and his back-to-back weeks with a catch of at least 34 yards provides hope that he is finally finding his rhythm. Playing on turf in the middle of a playoff hunt against a vulnerable pass defense is an easy sell for a speedy WR, and at the very least you don’t want to see him on your opponent’s roster.