This is my fourth and final installment of quarterly projections.
Hopefully, the first three installments have helped you reach
a point to where you can relax over the next week or two.
Because I take on all 32 teams and there is a lot to cover, I’m
going to get right to it this week.
Here’s a quick refresher of what each of the colors mean
in each team’s projection chart below:
Red – A very difficult matchup.
For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be
used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player,
drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e.
from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one
level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a
Yellow – Keep expectations
fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow
matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier
player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall
right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average
White – Basically, this is
a neutral matchup. In some cases, I just don’t feel like
I have a good feel yet for the defense. Generally speaking, these
matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.
Green – It doesn’t
get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is
basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the
elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers.
One final note: The gray highlight in each team’s
schedule reflects a road game and the numbers above them correspond
to the weeks of the season. The age you see by each player will
be that player’s age as of September 1, 2015.
Key to the table below:
PPR - Total points scored in PPR Non - Total points scored in non-PPR.
What to watch for: Although it serves
as a convenient excuse at best, the nagging injuries of McCoy and
Watkins – and their inability to get to 100 percent during
the first half the season (along with the multi-week injury to Taylor
before the team’s Week 8 bye) – may be the reason why
the Bills have utilized them McCoy and Watkins in tandem more often
before now. But here are the facts: 1) McCoy has 20 targets over
his last three games after seeing no more than four in any game
before Week 10 and 2) Watkins has at least 60 yards receiving AND
at least one touchdown in each of the three games in which he has
recorded eight targets. Last week’s 6-158-2 line came in only
a half, mostly against Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith, who was
Pro Football Focus’ top-graded cornerback entering the game.
With the defense ailing, OC Greg Roman’s game plan each week
should feature at least 20 touches for McCoy and 10 targets for
Watkins – no questions asked.
What to watch for: The Dolphins made
another shakeup to the coaching staff this week, firing OC Bill
Lazor and replacing him with QB coach Zac Taylor (presumably in
response to last week’s 58:9 pass-to-run ratio). Interim HC
Dan Campbell wants a physical running game and got it for two weeks
after he took over the job, but it has largely been hit-or-miss
since. A rededication to the ground game should seemingly make Miller’s
owners happy, but Ajayi’s presence is looming larger by the
week. It should come as no surprise if this backfield is a full-blown
committee by the end of the season. At receiver, it appears Parker
is finally going to get his chance, getting the start ahead of Stills
in place of the injured Matthews following last week’s “breakout”
(four catches, 80 yards and a touchdown in deep garbage time) after
not seeing so much as a target since Week 3. The rookie needs to
be added in all leagues and the matchup is right this week, although
there is virtually no chance I would start him given the situation
in Miami at the moment.
What to watch for: Typically, when
a team loses as much passing-game personnel as the Patriots have
over the last month, it is natural to assume the team will go run-heavy.
I don’t think that’s the case here for a number of reasons,
not the least of which are the upcoming matchups. Amendola figures
to resume his status as a PPR superstar if he can stay healthy during
the stretch run (far from a given), but look for LaFell to be much
more of a factor, at least for however long Gronkowski is sidelined.
Chandler will obviously assume some of that responsibility –
especially in the red zone – but he is simply not the same
kind of physical mismatch as Gronk is between the 20s. Blount’s
workload will almost certainly increase, but I do expect Bolden
and White to trade off productive PPR games over the remainder of
What to watch for: The absence of
green on the schedule is more of a concern for Ivory than any other
Jet. Ivory has remained productive after dominating September, but
he has slowed down and will get pulled frequently in the passing
game anytime Powell is healthy and available to work on passing
downs. The Giants (Week 13) and Patriots (Week 16) figure to be
opponents that cause New York to pass a bit more often, so playing
Powell in those weeks could pay off more than most owners might
expect. No team has allowed fewer PPR fantasy points to the running
back position than Tennessee, so that is another week owners might
be disappointed in Ivory. New York’s tight ends have a total
of six receptions, so Marshall and Decker are overwhelming solid
bets to see at least eight targets every game and produce almost
regardless of opponent. As a result, owners can feel good about
continuing to trust Fitzpatrick despite the fact he has yet to throw
for 300 yards and has a propensity to throw more interceptions than
the average quarterback.
What to watch for: Unfortunately,
the Cowboys lost Tony Romo again (this time for the season). If
there is any good news in that tidbit for fantasy owners, it’s
that we know what to expect from the rest of the team when Cassel
is under center. In Cassel’s three starts (all losses), McFadden
averaged 28.3 touches (with no fewer than 26 in any game). Witten
has essentially been the same fantasy player all season regardless
of his quarterback (and hasn’t found the end zone since doing
so twice in Week 1). Although the sample size is much too small,
it seems reasonable to say whatever hope Williams had of being consistently
fantasy-relevant down the stretch went out the door with Romo’s
departure and that Bryant will probably be nothing more than a WR2
the rest of the way. Given the upcoming schedule and the quality
of receivers on a particular owner’s fantasy bench, this could
be the last week Bryant’s owners might feel halfway comfortable
What to watch for: Quite frankly,
the Giants’ “running game” is a joke. Vereen is
the only player to score double-digit PPR fantasy points since the
shootout with the Saints in Week 8 and New York seems to have no
desire to make him a consistent part of the offense. (This after
talking about how much big-play ability he added to the team this
offseason.) As such, the ability for the Giants to move the ball
each week relies heavily on how often Harris and/or Tye are involved
since Beckham is essentially the one constant. For what it’s
worth, New York seems to be going back to the same late-season approach
it used with OBJ last year: over the last three games, Beckham is
averaging 15.7 targets (almost right at the pace he averaged in
Weeks 14-17 a season ago). It’s going to be tough to expect
the same kind of production he posted last year with the cornerbacks
he’s likely to see over the next month (Darrelle Revis, Josh
Norman and Xavier Rhodes), but I still expect my projections above
to be his floor over that time. ESPN New York reported Wednesday
that it is unlikely Revis will play this week, so feel free to upgrade
OBJ’s projection accordingly.
What to watch for: I’ll be interested
to read all the different injury stories that come out after the
season regarding the Eagles’ receivers. Until then, I think
it’s reasonable to assume that Matthews is a low-end WR3 at
best and that my projections above probably represent his ceiling.
If there is one bit of good news I can share regarding fantasy players
from Philadelphia, it is that no team in the NFC East is out of
it, so there doesn’t figure to be a lot of “playing
for next year”. Owners that want some part of the Philadelphia
passing game might want to invest in tight ends because they represent
the only upside this offense has right now, although even Celek
and Ertz’s upside is capped by a brutal upcoming schedule.
It would be nice to see Philadelphia opt for more of a split backfield
(in order to get Mathews the number of touches he deserves in an
offense more suited to his talent), but I highly doubt that will
happen. Mathews is trying to come back from a concussion as we speak,
which obviously decreases whatever shot he has to make that happen.
What to watch for: Remember a few
months ago when Niles Paul overtook Reed as a starter because he
was a “more complete tight end”? Washington leads the
division now and may end up winning it, but it probably won’t
come as a result of the Redskins “catching fire”. On
the surface, it would appear Morris has at least earned the right
to lead this backfield committee, but I think his recent “emergence”
as much more to do with two of the last three opponents’ incompetence
than it does anything else. Washington running backs have accounted
for only five touchdowns this season (four by Jones, including all
three of the team’s rushing scores) and it would probably
take the greenest of green matchups for me to play one the rest
of the season. If anything, Jones has shown some big-play ability
in the passing game. The Redskins are fairly simple to figure out
in the passing game and will only go as far as Jackson and Reed
take them. Garcon has become a non-factor and Crowder, who came
inches short of scoring a red-zone touchdown last week, has seemingly
taken a back seat to Jackson and Reed after initially appearing
to be an equal partner following Jackson’s return.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.