A fantasy championship is within reach if you can just get through this week with a win. Every head-to-head league should now be in the fantasy playoffs, with most playing in the semi-finals. It’s a one-week season, so paying close attention to who is trending up or down is imperative. Week 15’s stock watch will examine 10 players you should take a long look at before deciding whether to play or sit them this week. Here’s who’s heading in the right and wrong direction.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo went shot-for-shot with Drew Brees in the Superdome and came out on top with a 48-46 victory. He threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He made the very small group of fantasy managers who started him very happy. Jimmy G has really stepped up over the last six weeks and has proven that he can not only lead a Super Bowl contender like the 49ers, but can lead a fantasy lineup to victory. Since Week 9, Garoppolo is the No. 7 overall fantasy quarterback with an average of 21.3 points per game. He’s been a little boom or bust with a turnover-filled showing against the Seahawks in Week 10 and a 9.1 fantasy point day against the Ravens two weeks ago, but he’s made up for it with sensational play otherwise. He has three four-touchdown games in his last six, and has at least 18 fantasy points in four of his last six. A home game against Atlanta awaits. The Falcons allow the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs this season. Garoppolo is a QB1 in this crucial week and his stock should continue to rise.
WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants
It’s completely understandable if Slayton was off your radar before his huge game against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard were both healthy and active. Plus, Eli Manning, who had never thrown a pass to Slayton, was starting and fantasy managers didn’t know if he had any chemistry with the rookie receiver out of Auburn. It turned out that none of that mattered as Manning and Slayton hooked up five times for 154 yards and two touchdowns, nearly upsetting the Eagles in the process. It was Slayton’s second 100-plus yard, two-touchdown performance in the last four games. Almost as importantly, his target volume (eight) was right in line with what we’ve come to expect with Daniel Jones. Slayton has 25 catches and 38 targets over the last four weeks and ends the season with the Dolphins at home, at Washington and the Eagles again at home. You can’t ask for any better schedule to end the year, regardless of who’s playing quarterback for the Giants.
RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
One week’s a fluke, two is a trend? That’s what fantasy managers are hoping when it comes to determining the lead back in San Francisco. Mostert led all 49ers running backs with 12 touches against the Saints after doing the same with 21 touches against the Ravens two weeks ago. He’s scored a touchdown in three straight games and more importantly it appears that Tevin Coleman is being phased out of the offense at the moment, at least temporarily. Coleman only had five carries two weeks ago and three last week. Matt Breida returned against the Saints and stole a little work from both backs. James White is the only running back with more PPR points over the last two weeks. Only White, Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler and Leonard Fournette have more points over the last three weeks. Mostert has proven he can be a huge fantasy asset even without a ton of volume. If he gets more than a dozen touches against the Falcons this week he will help some of you win your fantasy matchups.
WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
Brown looks like one of those players that you just have to leave in your lineup every week in the WR3 slot and ride the ups and the downs. He’s having enough boom games to justify it and he’s really only busted once in the last seven games. As I wrote in this week’s waiver wire column, Brown is the No. 24 overall PPR wide receiver since Ryan Tannehill took over as Tennessee’s starter. He has scored an average of 14.4 fantasy points per game with the following weekly totals: 12.2, 9.1, 12.1, 2.7, 23.5, 7.5 and 33.6 fantasy points. Week in and week out consistency is reserved for the best of the best at the position, but what Brown has been able to do lately is incredible. The Titans’ offense has plenty of life now and a healthy on-field relationship has developed between Brown and Tannehill. Brown doesn’t face an above average defense against fantasy wide receivers for the rest of the season. Combine that with the match-up winning potential he’s shown in two of the last three weeks and you’ve got a rookie whose stock is higher than ever.
RB Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins
Peterson’s stock is on the rise in equal parts because he’s playing well and because Derrius Guice suffered another knee injury on Sunday. Peterson received 20 carries for only the third time this season against the Packers, finishing with 76 rushing yards and a touchdown. He had 99 rushing yards and a score on 13 carries the week prior, but should see a workload more similar to last week as long as Guice is out (which could be the rest of the season). The Redskins face the Eagles this week, which is not an ideal matchup by any means, but with no real threat to take carries away from him and Philadelphia’s inability to blow teams out, Peterson should get enough volume to stay in the flex conversation. The next two weeks get easier with the Giants and Cowboys (two teams just below league average against fantasy running backs) on tap. Those who were considering dropping Peterson two weeks ago are now wondering how much juice they can squeeze out of the future Hall of Famer in the fantasy playoffs.
RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Kamara hasn’t been bad overall, but he’s not anywhere close to having the season fantasy managers expected when he was taken as a top-three pick on draft day. He had his worst game of the season in the first week of the fantasy playoffs, finishing with a measly 6.3 fantasy points after getting a combined 43 yards on 17 touches and fumbling. It was the second time this season Kamara failed to reach the double-digit point threshold. Kamara only has one 20-point performance since the Saints’ Week 9 bye and only three in total for the season (and only two for those in half-PPR formats). Kamara has maintained low-end RB1 value in full-PPR leagues since Week 9, but his struggles are more evident in half-PPR formats. In that time frame, Kamara ranks outside the Top 20 RBs in average points per game in that format. New Orleans plays Indidnapolis this week, one of the five-toughest defenses for fantasy running backs to face. Kamara is still a must-start, but at this point he’s closer to RB2 territory than his ADP.
QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
The schedule makers did Allen, the Bills offense and fantasy managers no favors to end the season. Matchups against the Ravens, at Pittsburgh and at New England for the fantasy playoffs is about as bad as it gets. One leg in and it reveals that Allen is barely startable in single-QB leagues the rest of the way. Allen had his second-worst game of the season against Baltimore in Week 14, throwing for just 146 yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t able to run at all (two attempts for nine yards) and lost a fumble. But that was only his second-worst game. What was his first? Well it was against the Patriots at home in Week 4. He did leave the game late with an injury, but that was not the main reason for his struggles that day. He threw three interceptions and didn’t have a passing touchdown (he did rush for one). He’ll play the Patriots again in New England in Week 16. This week he faces a Steelers team in Pittsburgh on prime time. They are the ninth-stingiest team for fantasy QBs to face this season. Allen is nothing more than a mid-to-low level QB2 over the next two weeks. He may have gotten you to the playoffs, but you’ll need someone else to get to you the top of the podium.
WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills
The same logic from above applies here to Brown. He’s had a really nice season as a high-floor option for fantasy managers, but the fun ride has come to a screeching halt after back-to-back-to-back sub-40 yard performances. After receiving 8.5 targets per game through his first 10 games, he has just 16 in his last three games. He has a grand total of eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown over the last three weeks, so the high-floor has suddenly vanished. Part of it is the lineup of defenses he’s faced, but it doesn’t get any easier. The Steelers rank as the 11th-worst defense for fantasy wide receivers to face and the Patriots are the worst. Despite being the No. 23 overall PPR WR in average fantasy points per game this season, he can’t be trusted to be anything more than a WR4 the rest of the way.
WR Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams
2019 is going to turn out to be a lost year for Cooks, and fantasy owners need to step away from the name value and see what he’s truly been this season. Excluding the Bengals game where he left very early with an injury, Cooks is averaging 3.1 catches, 51 total yards and 0.1 touchdowns per game in his other 10 games. He has four catches on eight targets in three games since returning from his concussion and was completely blanked last week. Aside from a three-game stretch in Weeks 2-4, he’s been pretty much useless for fantasy managers. He’s still somehow owned in about three-quarters of leagues and was in a starting lineup in about a quarter of ESPN leagues last week. The Cowboys and 49ers, two of the worst defenses in the NFL for fantasy WRs, are up next for the Rams. Cooks is not a Top 50 wide receiver the rest of the way. Drop him if you haven’t already.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Murray has really struggled since coming out of Arizona’s Week 12 bye. He only threw one interception against the Rams in Week 13, but if you watched the game it should’ve been three or four. Those same turnover mistakes were not corrected and he threw three picks against the Steelers last week. The Browns and Seahawks are up next for Murray and both defenses are slightly below average against fantasy quarterbacks, but the rookie needs to start running more and taking care of the football in order to find his way back into QB1 territory. Murray has six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) and five turnovers over the last three weeks and hasn’t thrown for even 200 yards in any game in that timeframe. His combined 27.3 fantasy points over the last two weeks leave a lot to be desired for fantasy managers who can ill afford to have a third straight sub-15 point game from their starting QB.
More Advice From SI Fantasy
— Dr. Roto’s Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em, including praise for Patrick Laird
— Frankie Taddeo’s Week 15 streaming options: Darius Slayton, Jimmy G and more
— Jaime Eisner’s waiver wire, in case any of them are still available
— Mark Deming’s Target and Snap Report combs through the data for fantasy nuggets