The Market Report: Week 15

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The Market Report: Week 15

The Market Report is your one-stop Monday shop for all the movement from a big weekend of NFL football.

These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.

This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.

UPGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

None of note.

Running Backs

​​Dalvin Cook (Min) — Cook went from potentially being done for the season with his shoulder injury to becoming the first player to run for 200+ yards this season all in the span of 11 days. The Vikings surprised most medical experts when it came out that Cook would play in Week 14 after dislocating his shoulder and tearing his labrum less than two weeks earlier. Cook played and he played well against Pittsburgh’s Swiss cheese run defense, shredding them for 27/205/2 rushing and a season-high 35.2 FP on a 77% snap share. Cook is still at high risk of aggravating his injury over the final four weeks (@Chi, LAR, @GB, Chi), but he clearly showed in Week 14 that he must be in fantasy lineups anytime he plans to play. (Tom Brolley)

Alvin Kamara (NO) — Kamara returned from a four-week absence with a knee injury and made the most of it, carrying the ball 27 times for 120 yards and a TD, while adding 4/25 receiving on 5 targets from Taysom Hill, which was a pretty good sign given Hill’s typical checkdown avoidance. Not only was Kamara not limited in his return — he played 74% of the offensive snaps — but the 27 carries were a career-high for him. We’ll have to see what happens when Mark Ingram returns from the COVID list, but Kamara was as explosive as ever, ran 18 routes, and even spent some time in the slot. He is a slam-dunk RB1 for the fantasy playoffs. (Joe Dolan)

Saquon Barkley (NYG) — This is a “pulling teeth” upgrade — the Giants continue to struggle to open holes for Barkley, and Barkley’s big-play style doesn’t mesh well with that — but Barkley did have a strong game overall against the Chargers in Week 14. He posted 16/64 rushing and 3/31/1 receiving. The touchdown was gorgeous, as Barkley was split out wide against a defensive back, and he absolutely cooked him by getting him to bite on a slant. Interestingly, Barkley played just 38 snaps, 55% of the Giants’ offensive total, his lowest in a healthy game since Week 1 (when he was still limited coming off his ACL tear). But he touched the ball on 19 of those snaps, and it might behoove the Giants to use him more in creative ways than just handing him the ball up the gut and hoping he makes a play. Saquon is certainly to blame for some of his own struggles, which is why the Giants are working in Devontae Booker more (puke), but this game was a step in the right direction. Barkley’s a volatile RB2, but he has RB1 upside. (JD)

Wide Receivers

Tyler Lockett (Sea) — Lockett has clearly emerged as the go-to receiver in Seattle’s offense over D.K. Metcalf since Russell Wilson returned from his throwing-finger injury in Week 10. Lockett is coming off his fourth game with 26+ FP after hanging 5/142/1 receiving on nine targets against the Texans in Week 14, which gives him 12+ FP in four straight contests. He’s now averaging 4.2/88.8 receiving and 7.0 targets per game with two TDs since Week 10. Meanwhile, Metcalf has seen exactly eight targets in four of his five games since Wilson returned, but he’s failed to score more than 11 FP in any of those contests. He’s averaging just 3.4/34.6 receiving on 7.2 targets per game with no touchdowns in that span. Lockett and Wilson are connecting at 70.4% clip over the last four weeks for 22.2 YPR while Metcalf and Wilson are sitting at just 50% and 10.5 YPR in that same span. Lockett will be the preferred target again this week with Metcalf mostly locking horns with Jalen Ramsey. Lockett managed just 5/57 receiving on 10 targets against the Rams back in Week 4 while Metcalf erupted for 5/98/2 receiving on five targets, but these WRs are clearly in different places 10 weeks later. (TB)

Ja’Marr Chase (Cin) — He’s back! After a five-game lull in production, Chase exploded in the Bengals come-from-behind attempt against the 49ers for 5/77/2. Both of Chase’s TDs were a thing of beauty – the first one was a toe-tapper in the back of the endzone and the second tied the game and sent it to OT. Chase arguably should’ve had a third TD early in the game, but it was overturned on a close call. After the game, Chase very much believed that “it was a g–d— catch.” I agree! Regardless, Chase finding the end-zone twice and putting up 24.7 FP in a crucial week before the fantasy playoffs start was clutch. Chase now has over 1,000 yards on the season and his 79.8 YPG is fifth-most all-time among rookie WRs behind only Odell Beckham (108.8), Justin Jefferson (87.5), Anquan Boldin (86.1), and Randy Moss (82.1). Not bad company! (GB)

Tight Ends

None of note.

DOWNGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson (Bal) — What a horrible time for an injury — for both the Ravens and fantasy. Jackson played just 10 snaps before going down with an ankle injury, and Tyler Huntley had to come in and relieve him. To Huntley’s credit, he played well despite losing two fumbles, going 27/38 for 270 yards and a TD, and peppered Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman with targets. But the fact remains that the Ravens’ offensive ceiling and consistency is likely to be far lower without Lamar in there. And even if he doesn’t miss much time — the injury as of now doesn’t appear to be overly serious — the fact remains that a hobbled Jackson is going to be limited in the one area that makes him special for fantasy in the first place, his mobility. The good news is those with Lamar can simply pick up Huntley as a handcuff, because Huntley proved he can do a reasonable facsimile. (JD)

Dak Prescott (Dal) — While Dallas got a much needed win to continue keeping pace with the Buccaneers, Cardinals, and Packers as the class of the NFC – this offense has some systemic problems right now. Dak struggled mightily against Washington as he missed throws, made poor decisions, and held the ball too long at times en route to his worst game of the year. Dak finished just 22-of-39 for 211 yards with 1 TD, 2 INTs, and 4 sacks. Dak’s first INT was a terrible pass that he just sailed while his second INT was fugly. Dak didn’t see the underneath linebacker as the throw was returned for a TD and it breathed life into a Washington team that was lifeless until the second half. Since returning from injury in Week 9, Dak has completed 63.2% of his throws for 6.6 YPA and an 82.2 passer rating. In Weeks 1-6 before he got injured and before the bye, Dak completed 73.2% of his passes for 8.4 YPA and a stellar 115 passer rating. The good news is that the Cowboys can get right against the Giants next week, but Dallas’ recent struggles gives us some pause as the fantasy playoffs are on the doorstep. (GB)

Running Backs

Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl) — Patterson is still Atlanta’s most effective offensive player, but his usage in the last three weeks since missing Week 11 with an ankle injury leaves a lot to be desired. He’s finished with fewer than 50% of the snaps in each of those contests, and he’s posted his two worst full-game fantasy performances in the last two weeks since becoming a big part of Atlanta’s offense in Week 2. He still posted 16/58/1 rushing and 2/1 receiving on five targets for 13.9 FP against the Panthers in Week 14, but Mike Davis actually out-produced him in snap share (57%) and scrimmage yards (16/86). Patterson also didn’t see a single fourth-quarter snap, which HC Arthur Smith said was by design to give Patterson a breather with the Falcons nursing a two-score lead for much of the fourth quarter. Smith actually rotated his skill players more across the board with no player registering more than 75% of the snaps. Kyle Pitts most notably played fewer snaps than Hayden Hurst (62% to 54%) even with Hurst returning from an extended absence off of an injury. It’s not an ideal situation for each of the Falcons’ top skill players moving forward since their fantasy ceilings and floors will be a bit lower with fewer playing opportunities. (TB)

Chuba Hubbard (Car) — Hubbard muscled out 9.3 FP in his first game since taking back over as the team’s lead runner, but he was hardly impressive and he needed a touchdown to avoid falling flat in Carolina’s loss to the Falcons in Week 14. Hubbard finished with 10/33/1 rushing without a target on 39% of the snaps while Ameer Abdullah led the backfield with a 59% snap share with the Panthers playing from behind for most of the game. Abdullah managed just 4/16 rushing and 2/17 receiving on four targets, but the snap distribution is notable since the Panthers will be underdogs against good run defenses in each of their final four games (@Buf, TB, @NO, @TB). Abdullah is going to be on the field more than expected as Carolina’s receiving back, and Hubbard is setting up to be a dangerous low-end RB2 who will be relying on touchdowns moving forward. That’s even more dangerous considering the only thing Cam Newton is good at is scoring near the goal line at this stage of his career. (TB)

James Robinson (Jax) — One week after lamenting being benched for a fumble, Robinson played 64% of the offensive snaps! That’s good! He turned that into 6 carries for 4 yards and no targets. That’s bad! The Jags are a disaster under Urban Meyer, who looks highly likely to be one-and-done as more seedy details about his locker room leak out. And the on-field performance is reflecting of an organization that is just miserable to clock in for day in and day out. There’s really no one on this team who is trustworthy for fantasy playoffs, JRob included. (JD)

Kareem Hunt (Cle) — Hunt had just 4 touches and played just 13 snaps in Week 14’s win over the Ravens before an ankle injury cost him the rest of his day. The early indications were that the injury is minor — Hunt apparently wanted to come back into the game but the Browns opted to roll with Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson instead. However, the Browns have a short week, playing the Raiders on Saturday, and the slightly quicker turnaround appears to be a little too much for Hunt to play through according to coach Kevin Stefanski. It’s awful timing for those who had been rolling Hunt as a FLEX — the Raiders just got torched for 4 TDs from Chief RBs. (JD)

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard (Dal) — At this point, you know what the problem with Zeke is. While Zeke practiced in full all week and was adamant that he can play through his knee injury, the fact of the matter is that he’s averaging a pitiful 3.3 YPC and 5.1 YPR over his last five games. At this point, Zeke getting the ball is weighing down and hurting the offense as a whole because he simply doesn’t have his usual explosiveness or power. With Dallas basically a lock to win the NFC East, their best course of action is to shut Zeke down until the playoffs so he can get back to 100% again… but that seems unlikely at this point. Even without Tony Pollard against Washington, Zeke managed just 60 scoreless scrimmage yards and saw fewer carries than No. 3 back Corey Clement. Meanwhile, Pollard is dealing with a tricky injury that is going to nag him for the rest of the season, too. Pollard tore his plantar fascia in his foot against the Saints in Week 13 and didn’t practice at all last week. We might see extended snaps from Corey Clement for the rest of the season. (GB)

Wide Receivers

Terry McLaurin (Was) — McLaurin was held out of the box score before he left early against Dallas with a concussion. McLaurin’s injury came on yet another hospital ball from Taylor Heinicke where McLaurin basically had to jump in the air and play cornerback to make sure another one of Heinicke’s passes wasn’t picked off. Meanwhile, Heinicke hurt his knee in their loss to Dallas and his status ahead of Week 15 isn’t known at press-time. Prior to his goose-egg against the Cowboys, McLaurin flopped against the Seahawks (4/51) and Raiders (3/22) in his two previous outings because of his sporadic QB play. Things will only get worse if Kyle Allen is forced to make starts to close out the season. (GB)

Darnell Mooney (Chi) — With Justin Fields back under center and Allen Robinson back on the field, Darnell Mooney cratered on SNF. Mooney got 5 targets, but only caught one for 19 yards. Meanwhile, A-Rob got 6 targets and wasn’t much better with just 2/14 receiving. The Bears had a number of big plays and a punt returned for a TD so they didn’t have a ton of play volume in general, but the fact of the matter is that Mooney is averaging just 9.5 FPG in Fields’ 8 starts on the season. Yikes. He has three great matchups to close out the fantasy season (vs. Vikings, Seahawks, and Giants) – but with Fields back, Mooney reverts back to being nothing more than a low-floor WR4. (GB)

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce (KC) — Kelce picked the wrong time to vanish from the face of the earth with fantasy playoff bids hanging in the balance the last three weeks. He couldn’t do anything about it in Week 12 with the Chiefs on bye, but he’s come up extremely small since then with an identical 3/27 receiving line for 5.7 FP against the Broncos and Raiders in Weeks 13-14. He had posted 4+ catches in each of his first 11 games before his current cold spell, which has coincided with Kansas City’s defense dominating in lopsided affairs. Kelce should find himself in a more competitive affair against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, and he hung 7/104 receiving on 11 targets versus Los Angeles back in Week 3. (TB)

T.J. Hockenson (Det) — The Lions don’t have a whole lot of incentive to rush back their key offensive players like Hockenson (hand) and D’Andre Swift (shoulder) since they broke into the win column in Week 13. Hockenson showed up on Detroit’s injury report with a hand injury last week, and he went from being a limited participant early in the week to being a non-participant by the end of it. Hockenson had posted double-digit FP in six of his last seven games before missing Week 14, and he shouldn’t be necessarily counted on in the future if the Lions elect to play it safe with one of the cornerstones of their franchise. He’ll likely have to prove he’s fully healthy to get a jersey this week against a tough Cardinals’ defense, which has limited TEs to the fourth-fewest FPG (8.3) this season. (TB)

WATCH LIST

Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen (Buf) — The Bills waited a week too long to get Allen more involved in their rushing attack, but we may have seen why Buffalo was hesitant to run him more against the Patriots. He held his Week 14 post-game press conference with a boot on his left foot after picking up a “mild” case of turf toe in their loss to the Buccaneers. The injury didn’t slow down in the game as he registered his third performance with 36+ FP this season. He completed 36/54 passes for 308 yards (5.7 YPA), two TDs, and one INT and he added a season-high 12/109/1 rushing with OC Brian Daboll featuring him on five designed runs — he averaged 1.8 designed runs per game in his 12 contests. Allen may miss and/or be limited in practice this week, but he’s fully expected to play through his injury with the Bills fighting for their playoff lives. (TB)

Aaron Rodgers (GB) — Bears’ owner Aaron Rodgers was phenomenal once again on SNF as the Packers cruised. Rodgers completed 29-of-37 for 341 and 4 TDs as Green Bay all but locked up the NFC North with their 10th win of the year. If we take away the two seasons (2013 and 2017) that he missed most of due to injuries, the Rodgers-led Packers have now won 10 or more games in 10-of-12 seasons. And one of those seasons with fewer than double-digit wins came back in 2008 – Rodgers’ first year as the full-time starter. Rodgers’ recent play is even more impressive when you consider that he’s playing through a painful toe injury that “felt worse” after their win over the Bears. Rodgers might need minor surgery at some point to fix the issue but it seems like he’s waiting until the playoffs to figure that out. The fact of the matter is that Rodgers is playing at peak performance with 344.3 YPG and 10 TDs to 0 INTs over his last three games while dealing with his toe injury. (GB)

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler (LAC) — Ekeler missed some practice time last week with an ankle bruise, and it sure didn’t help matters that he appears to take a helmet to the ankle in the Week 14 win over the Giants. Ekeler went to the sidelines and got an aggressive tape job, but didn’t return to the game. Coach Brandon Staley told reporters after the game that Ekeler could have come back in, but they clearly decided against it given the outcome was likely in hand. However, the Chargers play the Chiefs on Thursday, and while they’ll almost certainly want one of their stars available for a pivotal game, the quick turnaround could mean rostering Justin Jackson or Joshua Kelley is a smart move. Needless to say, keep an eye on his status. (JD)

Michael Carter (NYJ) — There’s been no solid update on Carter (high ankle), though he is eligible to return from IR at any point. The Jets’ run game was awful in Week 14 against the Saints, as La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson were leading the way with Carter, Tevin Coleman (concussion), and Austin Walter (illness) all sidelined. The Jets’ offense is in a word of hurt with injuries, and Carter coming back would at least give them somewhat of a spark and fantasy teams a FLEX option for the playoffs. (JD)

Antonio Gibson (Was) — Unfortunately, Gibson was a part of the sinking ship that was the Washington offense yesterday. Between Taylor Heinicke getting hurt (and not playing well before he got hurt), Washington mustered just 224 yards of total offense against Dallas. Making matters worse, Antonio Gibson only got 12 touches and was cucked at the goal-line by practice squad call-up Jonathan Williams who hadn’t played all year and scored in garbage time because Washington was trailing 27-8 with just five minutes left to go. It was an all-around sloppy game from The Team and now they have to go to Philadelphia (who is coming off of a bye) to keep their playoff hopes alive. Gibson has set back-to-back season-highs in routes (25 in Week 13 and 30 in Week 14) but with JD McKissic (concussion) likely back soon, you know that will dip once again. (GB)

Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon (GB) — Well, Aaron Jones certainly made the most of his 8 touches on SNF as he turned in 65 scrimmage yards and two scores in the Packers win over the Bears. A.J. Dillon ended up with 15 carries to Jones’ 5, but Packers’ beat Matt Schneidman noted that Jones was getting looked at by trainers after his final carry to start the fourth quarter. At that time, the Packers had a 38-27 lead and likely wanted to play it safe with Jones and allowed Dillon to close out the game. Still, even before Jones went to the sidelines, Dillon had 10 carries to Jones’ 4 while Jones was the primary passing down back as he ran 20 routes to Dillon’s 7 in the first three quarters. There are a lot of similarities between the Saints backfield with Kamara / Ingram from a few years ago here with Dillon handling the majority of the early-down work and Jones getting the bulk of the passing down snaps / red-zone usage. (GB)

Wide Receivers

Adam Thielen (Min) — Thielen suffered a high-ankle sprain early in Week 13, and he was never going to play with a quick turnaround to get ready for Thursday Night Football. He’s still more on the doubtful side to return from his high-ankle injury this week against the Bears, but it’s notable that the Vikings didn’t place him on the injured reserve. It’s also notable that Minnesota’s medical staff gave Dalvin Cook (shoulder) the green light to play last week just 11 days after he dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum, so there’s a chance Thielen could try to play in Week 15. K.J. Osborn will remain a plug-and-play WR3 if he needs to miss another game. He’s scored 14+ FP in consecutive games as the second option behind Justin Jefferson after posting 3/83/1 receiving on nine targets (29% share) against the Steelers. (TB)

Keenan Allen (LAC) — Allen (COVID-19) did not play against the Giants in Week 14, and rookie Josh Palmer did an admirable job filling in for him, playing the slot role and posting 5/66/1 receiving on 7 targets. However, Palmer’s role in that regard is expected to be short lived, because Allen should be back on Thursday night against the Chiefs presuming he continues to test negative for the virus (he is reportedly vaccinated). The Chargers need him in a massive divisional tilt. (JD)

Julio Jones (Ten) — The Titans clearly didn’t want to push Julio in his return from IR (hamstring), so he played just 45% of the offensive snaps in Week 14’s win over the Jags, and he didn’t play in hurry-up packages. Still, he ran a route on 23 of Ryan Tannehill’s 38 dropbacks, which was second on the team behind just Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (33), and he was targeted 6 times on his 23 routes, catching 4 passes for 33 yards. With four games to play, the Titans have what is effectively a three-game lead on the Colts for the AFC South title. They’re highly likely to win the division, so their focus is on getting guys healthy and potentially getting back to full strength for the playoffs. But it was good to see Julio make it through this game unscathed — he’s a volatile WR3 for the fantasy playoffs, but has another week as the Titans’ #1 since AJ Brown isn’t eligible to come off IR until Week 16. (JD)

Deebo Samuel (SF) — After missing one game with a minor groin injury, Deebo returned just in time for the fantasy playoff push and delivered with 8/37/1 rushing but was once again held to just one catch for his third-straight game. Deebo’s uptick in usage as a running back has directly coincided with his downturn in receiving production. Deebo started the season with 8 or more targets in eight-straight games, but has since seen just 12 targets total across his last four contests. Of course, Brandon Aiyuk getting out of the doghouse and George Kittle looking like a monster has something to do with Deebo’s lack of targets recently but it has nothing to do with usage. Deebo wasn’t limited at all in his return against the Bengals as he ran a route on 40 of the team’s 48 pass plays. My theory is that HC Kyle Shanahan is going to continue to use Deebo as a running back first for as long as Eli Mitchell is out. Deebo got a season-high 8 carries in both of the games that Mitchell has missed recently (Week 11 vs. Jaguars / Week 14 vs. Bengals) but got 4 targets in the first three quarters against the Vikings in Week 12 when Mitchell was playing before Deebo left in the fourth quarter with that groin injury. Hopefully, Mitchell gets back soon and allows Deebo to be a bigger part of the passing offense because the 49ers playoff schedule is absolutely gorgeous (vs. Falcons, Titans, and Texans). (GB)

Tight Ends

Darren Waller (LV) — Las Vegas’ playoff hopes are on its last legs heading into a pivotal matchup with the Browns, one of the teams they’re fighting with to get into the postseason. Waller has a little less time to get ready for Week 15 with the Raiders playing on Saturday, which is less than ideal after he logged three DNPs for the second consecutive week since injuring his knee on Thanksgiving Day. Foster Moreau has flopped the last two weeks as Waller’s replacement, managing just 4/47 receiving on nine targets despite running the sixth-most routes (68) at the position in Weeks 13-14. If you’re looking for some glimmer of hope this week, the Raiders didn’t place Waller on the injured reserve after his injury in Week 12 so they at least thought he would have a chance to return by Week 15. (TB)

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