December 12, 2013

Fantasy Football Report: Week 15

By - Tim Swift

With fantasy playoffs now underway, here's what you need to know heading into Week 15.

1. Big injuries at the wrong time.

Photo by: Steven Senne
Adrian Peterson goes down Sunday with a foot injury, Rob Gronkowski tears his knee all to pieces, and Aaron Rodgers' availability is still up in the air due to a broken collarbone. If Rodgers is on your roster, you probably found his replacement a month ago. However, things are a bit more tricky with Peterson and Gronk. Dennis Pitta could be a prime waiver wire candidate after hauling in 6 receptions and a touchdown in his first game of the year. As far as replacing Peterson goes, Chris Ogbonnaya, Daniel Thomas and Toby Gerhart are all players who could still be available in your respective league. Hey, they're better than nothing.

2. The Josh McCown/Jay Cutler situation in Chicago.

Josh McCown continued his magical run Monday night, turning in one of the two best fantasy performances of Week 14; 348 yards and 5 total scores. In the last three games, McCown has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 8 TDs, making him a top 5 fantasy QB over that span. HC Marc Trestman put to rest any possible controversy by saying that Cutler will be the starter as soon as he's medically cleared. McCown owners can hold out hope that Cutler can't go this week, but you need a backup ready in the event he can. Jason Campbell and Matt Flynn are two options in deeper leagues with good matchups Sunday.

3. The Shane Vereen factor.

One of the players who will benefit greatly from the injury to Rob Gronkowski is Shane Vereen, the third-year man out of California. The 24-year-old has been a great flex play over the last several weeks, especially in PPR leagues. At this point in the season, Vereen has essentially become a tight end. Over the last four games, he has 24 carries and 33 receptions. Regardless of the format, as long as he's getting double-digit targets (and he will), Vereen is a must-start in the playoffs.

4. What does Marques Colston have left?

Colston owners were treated to a nice surprise on Sunday to the tune of 9 catches for 125 yards and 2 scores. It was such a shocker because the 30-year-old had only found the end zone twice all year and only had one 100-yard game entering Week 14. In PPR leagues, where it's much easier to score, Colston has registered six single-digit games this season. The Saints take on St. Louis this week, but even though they have a suspect secondary, it's probably unrealistic to expect a repeat performance from Colston.

5. Charles Clay is stepping up in Miami.

You can make a strong argument that tight end Charles Clay has been the most consistent pass catcher for the Dolphins this season. The third-year man out of Tulsa was basically an afterthought coming into the year, until Dustin Keller blew out his knee in the preseason. Clay leads Miami with 6 receiving touchdowns, and over the last month, he has registered 24 catches. The 24-year-old has been particularly strong in the red zone, leading the Dolphins in targets. Up next is the Patriots with their extremely depleted defense, so Clay should continue his productive ways.

The Underrated 15 For Week 15:

- Quarterbacks

1. Ryan Tannehill
2. Matt Flynn
3. Matt Ryan

- Running Backs

1. Donald Brown
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
3. Ryan Mathews

- Wide Receivers

1. Steve Johnson
2. Cordarrelle Patterson
3. Rod Streater

- Tight Ends

1. Dennis Pitta
2. Garrett Graham
3. Charles Clay

- Defense/Special Teams

1. New Orleans
2. Arizona
3. Indianapolis

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  1. Better play this week? Brady versus the Dolphins or Big Ben versus the Bengals? I can't decide.

  2. Tough cal,l these guys are pretty much rated dead even for Sun, I lean ever so slightly to Big Ben because the Cincy secondary is pretty beat up and they gave Andrew Luck's best day last week. Also I'm a fan if everything is all even, to start the guy who is going on Sun night or Mon night, because you will know exactly how many points they need to win.