St. Louis Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thursday, 8:30 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 41 pts, Rams Total: 21 pts, Bucs Total: 20 pts
Vegas tried to whisper a warning to those who ran with the Detroit defense last week. Not only were the Rams favored over the Lions, but Vegas' implied total had the Rams scoring 20.5 points – a significant amount for such a vanilla, awful offense.
We know the rest of the story: The Rams ran roughshod over the Lions as game script remained neutral and Todd Gurley went to town in the second half. The Rams are still a nice target for opposing defenses, but beware this week that Vegas has them favored once again, this time against a mostly terrible Tampa team.
If I'm deploying a defense here, it'll be the Rams against Jameis Winston – the league's 32nd most accurate thrower on aimed attempts. The Bucs have given up an average of 8.6 fantasy points to defenses in road contests this season.
This strikes me as the sort of Thursday night matchup that will draw action just because people want action. It'll be low scoring and there are few – if any – attractive matchups here. Build those Sunday and Monday lineups and get them into cash games that start on Thursday night. This strikes me as the ultimate chump game.
St. Louis sees a whopping 27 carries per game run against them, and they're one of just 10 teams allowing more than 100 rushing yards per game. Enter the Bucs, who have one of the NFL's run heaviest schemes, with lead runner Doug Martin running the rick 18.3 times, on average. Martin should certainly get good opportunity in this one. His FanDuel price leaves a lot to be desired, but I have some interest on DraftKings.
Todd Gurley only needs the woeful Rams to stay within shouting distance to get his. In five games that have seen St. Louis lose by less than six points this year, Gurley has notched 20.1 fantasy points. Offensive disaster looms over his prospects, but Gurley has the highest ceiling of anyone in this matchup.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets (Saturday, 8:15 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 42 pts, Jets Total: 22.5 pts, Cowboys Total: 19.5 pts
Dallas games haven't had all that much DFS appeal of late. The team's offense is designed to kill the clock and limit turnovers while the defense has proven mostly stout against opposing passing attacks.
Only Denver's tough-as-nails secondary allows fewer schedule adjusted fantasy points to receivers than the Cowboys this season. I think we'll see a lot of daily gamers chase Brandon Marshall's Week 14 explosion, which makes sense. I see Marshall as something closer to a fade though, with better top-tier options available on both FanDuel and DraftKings this week.
The same goes for Ryan Fitzpatrick: I've been all over the bearded one over the past few weeks, in incredibly favorable matchups. Why? Because Fitzy has always been one to pick on bottom-half secondaries while struggling against top-half coverage units. Probably he can maintain some sort of floor here based on his receiving weapons alone. I'm bearish on Fitzpatrick as a cash option against Dallas.
Only eight teams have seen more rushes attempted against them than the Cowboys in 2015. I think that's because teams have found it tough sledding against the Dallas coverage unit and many opponents have been in clock killing mode through much of the second half (like Green Bay last week).
Chris Ivory saw 22 carries against Tennessee last week after the Jets grabbed a big lead. He turned that workload into 101 yards, and now averages 17.8 fantasy points when Gang Green wins. I like Ivory quite a bit this week considering his price point hasn't jumped of late and Vegas is practically begging us to invest in the Jets' clock killer.
Pairing Ivory with New York's defense isn't a horrible idea. The Jets have recorded more quarterback hits this season than anyone but the Broncos, meaning Matt Cassel – whose accuracy plummets when under pressure – could become a turnover machine if Dallas doesn't once again limit their atrocious signal caller. The Jets' defense is a nice cash game option and a sensible GPP play.
Don't get cute with Jason Witten here. The Jets have allowed 58 tight end receptions all season (ninth fewest) while tight ends have scored a grand whopping total of two touchdowns against the Jets in 2015.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 42 pts, Chiefs Total: 25 pts, Ravens Total: 17 pts
I'm going to invest heavily in the Chiefs' defense, and I won't be alone. Kansas City has notched double digit fantasy points in four of its past six games. Now they get their crack at the corpse of the Baltimore Ravens, who might have to turn to Ryan Mallet if Matt Schaub can't suit up. Either way, KC's defense has an undeniably solid floor and a tremendous ceiling in this one. And that declaration has almost nothing to do with the Ravens' low implied Vegas total.
Spencer Ware, who had to be helped off the field in Week 14, is still suffering with soreness and possibly bruised ribs. That leaves Charcandrick West to see a massive workload against a Ravens front seven that has deteriorated of late. West's passing game involvement and receiving acumen should be a big factor in his DFS appeal too. West is something close to a must-play runner if Ware is declared out for this one. The Chiefs will have boatloads of positive game script.
Alex Smith, in a week with so few truly appealing cash game quarterback plays, has added value against an abominable secondary that allows 21.5 adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks (only the Saints give up more). Smith averages 20.9 fantasy points when the Chiefs win (including 1.46 passing scores). I don't see a lot of reason not to use Smith as your primary cash game quarterback in Week 15. Eight signal callers have scored more than 20 fantasy points against Baltimore this season.
Baltimore ranks 27th in adjusted fantasy production allowed to enemy receivers. That leaves the door open for a couple kinds of KC stacks, including one with Smith and Jeremy Maclin, who is seeing a huge percentage of Smith's targets. No team has allowed more touchdowns to receivers than the Ravens, who have seen wideouts score 24 times in 2015. That's three more than the Saints have allowed, quite amazingly.
While I don't like to try to predict game script, the potential for game flow wackiness is clear and present in this matchup. I understand if you hedge on going in on KC skill position players. I maintain that good process tells us that their central offensive weapons – including Maclin – will be very much involved in meeting their implied Vegas projection of 25 points. Only five teams have a higher implied total in Week 15.
The DFC stack generator has Smith-Maclin as a top-7 QB-WR combo for Week 15.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 49 pts, Jaguars Total: 26 pts, Falcons Total: 23 pts
Julio Jones saw nine targets in his worst game of 2015. The Falcons made no effort to get their best player away from shutdown cover man Josh Norman, so those nine looks only netted seven grabs for 88 yards. That performance, along with the general dumpster fire decline of the entire Falcons franchise, might push people away from Julio in Week 15 DFS contests.
That makes this the time to seize on Julio as a resurgent cash game receiver. The Jaguars, 21st in adjusted fantasy points given up to wideouts, are hardly an intimidating matchup for the dominant receiver. Julio will see primary coverage from Jacksonville corner Dwayne Gratz, who gave up a nuclear performance to DeAndre Hopkins early this season and stands five inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than Julio.
Julio, now priced well below Odell Beckham, Jr. on DraftKings, is the week's best top-end receiver play. He'll be in almost every one of my DK cash contests.
Devonta Freeman was predictably ineffective against a tough Carolina defense that feasted on the remains of the Atlanta offense once Cam Newton's offense jumped out to a big Week 14 lead. Here's the crux of why I think the Atlanta runner is a fine cash game option against the Jags: Freeman has managed to put up gaudy PPR numbers even when the Falcons rushing game remains grounded, and Jacksonville has given up more running back receptions this season than anyone not named the Falcons. Freeman could be in line for one of his 8-10-catch games here.
Which leads me to Denard Robinson, who is expected to start and get a significant workload if TJ Yeldon is declared out for Week 15. Robinson was incredibly effective against a mediocre Indy front seven in Week 14, taking 15 touches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Denard Truthers United, a group to which I pay regular dues, is very excited about his Week 15 prospects.
Running backs average 7.3 catches against Atlanta, while no one has allowed more running back touchdowns than the Falcons through 14 weeks. Robinson is a locked-in cash gamer for me. The 49ers, Saints, and Dolphins are the only teams that allow more adjusted fantasy points to runners than the Falcons.
I think Allen Robinson shapes up as a wicked good GPP option for Week 15. He's also a cash game consideration, but after a horrid Week 14 stat line (two targets, one catch, four yards, one touchdown), we could see very low ownership for Arob, who just happens to score 18.2 fantasy points when the Jaguars win. Allen Hurns being back takes some of the shine off of Robinson. He still has as good a chance as anyone of blowing up against an Atlanta secondary that let Ted Ginn go off just one week ago.
A correlation stack of Robinson and Julio has my attention this week.