It’s Week 15 in the NFL season. Hopefully, you survived the first round of the playoffs and are one step closer to that elusive championship. This week kicks off with an AFC West matchup between the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos. The Chargers crushed the New York Giants and the Broncos dominated the Tennessee Titans.
This game will definitely be a shootout, and every fantasy-relevant player in this game can break double digits. The Thursday night games are usually a fantasy nightmare, but not this one. Here are my projections for Thursday Night Football.
Philip Rivers has played really well in 2013. In some leagues, he was the 24th quarterback taken, and wasn’t even drafted in others. Rivers is now ranked as the sixth-best fantasy quarterback. He struggled the last time he played the Broncos, but has improved since then. He has seven touchdowns and one interception in the last three games. The Broncos allow 17.5 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and Rivers could have a great game.
Projections: 321 passing yards, two TDs, one INT (18 points)
What’s there to say about Peyton Manning that hasn’t been said already? He’s the best fantasy football player this season and is playing lights out. In his last two games, he has 800 passing yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. However, without Wes Welker, how will Manning fare? To answer my own question, he will do just fine with the remaining offensive weapons. The Chargers’ pass defense ins’t the greatest either, but Manning can take apart any defense.
Projections: 385 passing yards, three TDs (27 points)
Ryan Mathews has reinvented himself this season. There was a stigma about Mathews not being healthy, holding onto the ball and scoring near the goal line. He’s played in every game, fumbled the ball only once and has been successful at the goal line. Denver allows the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs. Mathews had 29 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.
While he most likely won’t reach those numbers on Thursday, he can still get close to 100 yards and score again. Danny Woodhead has had only 14 carries in the last two games, but is more suited for the passing game. Mathews will get the lion’s share of carries in this game.
Projections: 17 carries, 65 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards, one TD (14 points)
Knowshon Moreno has been the fourth-best running back this season. He’s scored 58 fantasy points in the last three games. Rookie Montee Ball is sneaking onto the field and taking some carries away from Moreno, and is becoming fantasy relevant week after week. Moreno has 10 receptions in the last two games. That total could go up in the absence of Welker. Both running backs should have great success against the Chargers.
Projections: 16 carries, 72 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, one TD (16 points)
Even with all of the injuries to the Chargers’ receiving core, they are still playing well. However, Keenan Allen is the only receiver worth starting right now. He has 20 receptions, 289 yards, two touchdowns and 37 fantasy points in the last three weeks. The Denver pass defense is very porous as they have allowed 2,350 yards and 14 touchdowns to wideouts. He is definitely Rivers’ go-to guy, which helps Allen owners in PPR leagues.
Projections: eight receptions, 75 yards, one TD (13 points)
As serious as concussions are, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker owners will benefit from Welker’s absence. Thomas has scored double-digit fantasy points in seven straight games. He had 108 yards and three touchdowns the last time he played San Diego and while that’s unlikely, he could burn them again.
Decker has 16 receptions for 291 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games. He seems to be Manning’s favorite target. Decker has become a must-start receiver with his recent production.
Projections: Thomas — seven receptions, 109 yards, one TD (16 points); Decker — eight receptions, 95 yards, one TD (15 points)