So I have a strong feeling that readership of this article should be waaaaay down.  We’re into week 15 and that means the fantasy semifinals.  What’s great about this year is that no teams have locked up home-field advantage yet, so there won’t be any anomalous results this week due to starters being rested.  However, things maybe aren’t looking good for the fantasy super bowl next week.  Aaron Rodgers recently commented that the team has discussed resting starters if home-field is all sewn up, and the score would dictate such rest.  That isn’t a good sign for Rodgers owners who have likely ridden him into the playoffs this season.  If he does sit for a significant portion of the last two weeks it could severely damage those teams just like the Colts did in 2009.  Brace yourselves, everyone.  This could get interesting.  Let’s forget the hypotheticals though and move on to week 15.

Quarterback

BEST:      Drew Brees, NO

-It’s been hard to keep Brees off of this list lately.  He’s had incredibly weak defenses to mach up with lately, and he’s been slinging the ball on par with any quarterback in the league over the second half of the season, including the general consensus MVP, Aaron Rodgers.  This week he draws the Minnesota Vikings who have the 7th worst pass defense in the league.  They’re currently giving up 248.8 yards per game, and have given up 26 touchdowns and have only intercepted 6 passes.  Brees, on the other hand, is averaging 336 yards per game and has already thrown 32 touchdowns.  Looking at those two numbers, I can’t see anything but a huge day for Brees.  I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of 360 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions.  The only way Brees doesn’t have a great game is if Jared Allen and the Vikings defensive line make his life awful.  I wouldn’t count on it though.

WORST:  Tim Tebow, DEN

-In several leagues I’m in, I see this guy starting.  Don’t, don’t, don’t.  Yes he wins, there’s no denying that, the evidence is there.  But this isn’t fantasy baseball, you don’t get points for wins like starting pitchers.  There is no excuse for starting a player who hasn’t gone over 236 passing yards in any game this season, and who’s largest number of touchdowns in one game is 2.  Sure, the guy has the potential to run, as evidenced by his 118 yards against the Radiers.  However if you exclude that game, Tebow has averaged only 51.7 yards rushing as a starter.  Respectable numbers, if he was also throwing for 300 yards per game, but he isn’t.  Don’t buy the hype, he can win, just not in fantasy football.

Running Back

BEST:    Chris Johnson, TEN

-He was AWFUL last week, but in the two weeks prior against worse rushing defenses than the Saints, he was a beast.  This looks like one of those years where Johnson can only feast on weak competition, and the Colts are certainly that.  Indy has given up an average of 144.3 yards per game this season, to go along with a league-worst 18 touchdowns on the ground.  I have a strong feeling that Johnson will end up with at least 120 yards rushing, 45 yards receiving, and 1 or 2 touchdowns this week.  I wouldn’t say that he’s back to his old self, but at least he’s back to scoring some points.  So that’s a bonus.

WORST:  Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert, SD

-Matthews has been getting the bulk of the carries lately, but Tolbert is still the primary goal line option.  Usually that’s a recipe for mediocre results from both players (although to be fair to Matthews, his yardage numbers have been incredible lately), and a headache for their owners.  I have a bad feeling about both players this week as they take on the Ravens and their second ranked rush defense.  The Ravens have been giving up only 85.8 yards per game this season, and I think with a 70/30 split between the two they should reach that number.  But that means that Matthews will only get 60 yards while Tolbert will get about 25 or 26 yards.  I also don’t expect either player to find the end zone.  All in all, not a good fantasy performance.

Wide Receiver

BEST:      Jordy Nelson, GB

-I think he’s going to take some lesser-informed fantasy owners by surprise this week.  With Greg Jennings out with a knee sprain I think the Nelson will see more targets, and he’s already seeing a significant number of targets, as he’s been the Packers second best big play threat all year behind Jennings.  Nelson has been great this year, but I think he’ll be incredible this week.  Many fantasy experts disagree with this, saying that teams will now concentrate on stopping Nelson.  I disagree, I think the extra coverage will slide to trying to stop Jermichael Finley, and Nelson will continue to see single coverage on most downs.  Look for him to break 100 yards this week, and find the end zone at least once.

WORST:  49er Wide Receivers

-It’s kind of like starting Tim Tebow.  I’ve been seeing too many new owners looking at the success of the 49ers this year, and are assuming that starting any of their players can’t be a bad idea.  It is.  Their receivers, although they’ve been adequate, are not weekly fantasy starters.  Michael Crabtree has looked OK at times, but isn’t consistent enough to warrant giving a starting position.  These guys are doing what they need to do to help their team win, but just like the Tebow, they won’t take your fantasy team to the promised land.  Sit them, and don’t think twice about it.

Tight End

BEST:    Jimmy Graham, NO

-He and Rob Gronkowski have been the two best tight ends all year, and that should continue this week.  As I mentioned in my Drew Brees write-up, the Vikings have been horrendous against the pass this year, and Graham should benefit from that just as much as Brees will.  Look for him to approach 100 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns.  He’s been huge all year, and will continue it this week.  If you’re lucky enough to have him on your team, and you don’t start him, you don’t deserve to win.

WORST:  Kellen Winslow, TB

-The struggles of his team have certainly been reflected in his numbers this year.  He only has 2 games over 60 yards receiving this season, and has managed to catch just 2 touchdowns.  Worse yet, he’s coming off of one of his worst games of the year where he had only 2 catches for 38 yards.  This team is all but out of the playoff race, and it shows in their play.  I don’t see him doing any better than last week, so don’t expect him to go anywhere over 40 yards, and not find the end zone.  Put him on your bench if you have any other option with a pulse.   And I mean that as literally as possible.  If you have a starting tight end that plans on playing NFL football on Sunday (or Thursday or Saturday as is the case), you should probably go with that guy.

Defense

BEST:    Green Bay Packers

-They just keep creating turnovers, and even though they’re giving up tons of yards, they’re still one of the top 5 fantasy defenses in most scoring systems.  They can do it again this week, facing a team in Kansas City that just lost their coach, and have possibly the worst quarterback situation in the league.  Look for the Pack to give up about 14 points, sack the quarterback at least 3 times, and create 3 turnovers.  An outstanding day for your defense in the semis.

WORST:  San Francisco 49ers

-They are a great defense, but I think Big Ben is the type of quarterback that can give them problems.  If he can break outside of the pocket, his speedy receivers like Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown may be able to get behind the 49ers secondary and create too many big plays for the Niners to overcome.  I think the Niners will give up around 28 points this week, in putting out one of their worst outings of the year.

 

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

As I previously mentioned, Greg Jennings is out for at least 2 weeks, and I think Cobb is going to see a lot more of the field now.  He has made some big plays when he has gotten the ball in the receiving game, but has also made too many rookie mental mistakes.  If he can clean up those mistakes he should be able to vastly improve his production in these last two weeks.  If he doesn’t he’ll continue to see the field in only certain packages.  He’s still available in many leagues, so he may be worth a flier if you’re dealing with either a weak WR situation or injuries at the position.  He’s a risk, but I think worth it.

*For more fantasy tidbits, insights, and info make sure to follow me, @lehmanna36, on Twitter!