Fantasy football Risers, Sliders: Cousins, Asiata on the rise
Congratulations to those who have advanced (depending on the result of Monday night's showdown between the Ravens and the Lions, of course) to their fantasy league championships!
In contrast to the devastating injuries in Week 14, there weren't too many players going down in Week 15; many teams will be heading unscathed into the championship game. Here's a look at the stock of certain players heading into most leagues' fantasy football title week.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins -- Filling in for Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the season, Cousins surprised everyone, going 29-for-45 for 381 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 27-26 loss to the Falcons. If you reached the finals despite a bad quarterback situation, Cousins could be your savior in Week 16, as Washington plays the shaky Dallas secondary. You may even want to pick him up to block your opponent from grabbing him, unless you find that a little uncouth.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons -- Ryan had a bit of a disappointing day against the Washington defense, which came into the game allowing opposing fantasy quarterbacks to score on average almost 20 points a game. He went 29-of-38 for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also lost a fumble and was sacked three times. People who started Ryan in fantasy semifinals certainly walked away hoping for more.
Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars -- Filling in for Maurice Jones-Drew, Todman carried 25 times for 104 yards and caught four passes for 44 yards. If Jones-Drew isn't back next week, Todman will likely get a lot of touches -- maybe he'll even get into the end zone. If you need to shore up your running back situation before the title game, Todman is the guy to grab. Just keep an eye on Jones-Drew's status.
Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings -- Coming into the game with just three career carries, Asiata rushed a whopping 30 times on Sunday against the Eagles. He gained just 51 yards -- but also scored three touchdowns in the 48-20 win over the Eagles. If Adrian Peterson or Toby Gerhart are back next week, Asiata can't be a fantasy starter. But if he plays, you could grab him and hope for another home run.
Andre Brown, New York Giants -- Seattle wasn't the best matchup for Brown, but he far undercut expectations, carrying the ball 11 times for just 17 yards. (He also caught four passes for nine yards on five targets.) The Giants' offense looks like a mess heading into Week 16.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Rainey was another late-season running back replacement who had a few quality fantasy performances down the stretch. On Sunday, he rushed 11 times for just 27 yards and caught one pass for three yards. The upshot: The Bucs play the Rams next week, who have allowed the fifth-most points to opposing fantasy running backs.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots -- Keep upgrading him. Edelman had an outrageous 19 targets on Sunday, catching 13 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins defense tried in vain to cover him with a linebacker. The Patriots suddenly can't run the ball, forcing Tom Brady to throw 55 times in the 24-20 loss. Danny Amendola -- who had 10 catches for 131 yards on 14 targets -- is another option.
Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings -- Jennings torched an Eagles defense that had been serviceable recently, catching 11 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. It will be tough going against Cincinnati next week, but Jennings has 32 targets the last three weeks. He's likely to get plenty of looks again.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins -- With Kirk Cousins looking solid in his first start this season, Garcon caught seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Garcon gets an excellent matchup in Week 16: Dallas' secondary gives up the most passing yardage to opposing quarterbacks in the league.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants -- This was the one major injury of the week -- Cruz went out with a concussion and a knee sprain after a hit by Jeremy Lane in the third quarter of the Giants' 23-0 loss to the Seahawks. Before exiting, he caught two passes for 25 yards on seven targets. It's unclear if he'll be able to play next week; check his status before starting him.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars -- Lewis has scored in three straight games; on Sunday he caught four passes for 54 yards and the score on seven targets. The Jaguars are down several receiving options and Lewis has caught on as a favorite target of Chad Henne late in the season. In Week 16 the Jags play the Titans, who gave up a TD to Cardinals TE Jake Ballard on Sunday.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles -- Nick Foles threw nine passes Ertz's way on Sunday; he caught six of them for 57 yards and a touchdown. Next week, the Eagles play the Bears, who give up 8.99 points a game to tight ends in standard scoring systems. If you're looking for a tight end for the final week who could score, consider Ertz.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins -- Clay had just one catch on two targets against the Patriots, a disappointing outing after scoring three touchdowns over the previous two weeks. The Dolphins play the Bills on Sunday.
Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys -- Bailey kicked five field goals for the Cowboys on Sunday, and he'll have another big day if Dallas moves the ball against Washington this weekend.
Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints -- Hartley had two field goals blocked in the Saints' 27-16 loss to the Rams on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns -- They gave up 32 points, but the Browns scored two touchdowns, sacked Jay Cutler twice and forced three turnovers. They play the Jets -- an often-anemic offense that's turned it over a league-leading 28 times -- on the road in Week 16. They could put up another quality fantasy performance.
New Orleans Saints -- The Saints' defense couldn't do much against the Rams, giving up 27 points and finishing with no takeaways and no sacks. It's a disappointing day for a team that was coming off a rout of Carolina. New Orleans faces the Panthers, this time on the road, in Week 16.