Week 15 of the NFL and fantasy football season had a lot of really underwhelming performances, meaning the most loaded team in your league might have been sent home early this weekend. Hopefully you were able to advance to your fantasy championship this past week. Even this late in the season, things continue to change in the fantasy football world.
Miami Dolphins 22, New England Patriots 12
Once again, the Miami Dolphins were extremely short-handed on offense, but they did get back Salvon Ahmed, who led the backfield with a 60% snap share and 24 touches. He carried the football 23 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, and although Matt Breida carried the ball 12 times, Miami continues to mostly use one running back. Ahmed became Miami’s first 100-yard rusher since December of the 2018 season. In three starts this season, Ahmed has two 20-carry games and is averaging 21 touches per game. Myles Gaskin should be back next week; he’s been the guy for Miami whenever he’s been healthy. But it is more than possible that Ahmed has played well enough to warrant more touches going forward.
The Patriots were also without their top running back, as Damien Harris was sidelined with an ankle injury. Sony Michel played 23 snaps to James White’s 27, though New England fell behind in this game. Michel still led the backfield with 10 carries for 74 yards, ripping off four runs of 10 yards or more. Michel touched the ball on nearly 48% of his snaps Sunday and if Harris can’t return next week against Buffalo, he’d make for a viable flex in non-PPR leagues.
Lynn Bowden Jr. Jr. remained a large part of the offense Sunday, especially with DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki all out with injury. Bowden was targeted a team-high seven times and ran out of the slot around 66% of the time. He has 13 catches over the last two weeks, but his usage will come back down if Parker and company return to the lineup this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens 40, Jacksonville Jaguars 14
Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch for the first time this season Sunday, making both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards very viable fantasy options. The rookie, however, operated as the RB1, carrying the ball 14 times for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Edwards finished the game with nine carries. If Ingram remains a healthy scratch the rest of the regular season, Dobbins will be a solid RB2 in fantasy, though the presence of both Lamar Jackson and Edwards in the running game will keep him from reaching RB1 status. The Ravens are running the football a league-leading 53.9% of the time this year, which should allow Dobbins and Edwards to both see 12-15 carries most weeks.
Indianapolis Colts 27, Houston Texans 20
Jonathan Taylor once again ran as the clear workhorse for the Colts, as he touched the ball 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. Nyheim Hines only touched the ball seven times, while Jordan Wilkins not only failed to receive a touch but didn’t even see the field. Taylor outsnapped Hines 38-16. Over his last four games, Taylor is averaging 21 touches per game and appears to be a league-winner after all.
For the Texans, both Duke Johnson and C.J. Prosise were out for, leaving a path for David Johnson to dominate the playing time. That was the case, as the veteran running back logged 79.7% of the offensive snaps. He only carried the ball eight times for 27 yards, but with Duke and Prosise not available to take him off the field on passing downs, David hauled in all 11 of his team-high 11 targets for over 100 yards. He ran 37 pass routes Sunday, the second-most among all running backs from Week 15.
Tennessee Titans 46, Detroit Lions 25
Adrian Peterson finally did not get the start for the Lions, and D'Andre Swift ended up logging 65% of the snaps to Peterson’s 24% snap rate. Swift fumbled a goal-line carry early in the game where he tried jumping over the pile, but the Lions stuck with him, giving him 15 carries on the day. He ultimately converted two short-yardage carries into scores — in his second game back from a concussion, Swift returned to his workhorse role, touching the football 19 times.
Jonnu Smith led the skill position players with a 93% snap rate Sunday while seeing five targets. As a result, his 52 receiving yards were his most in a game since Week 3, though in a game where the Titans scored nearly 50 points, Smith failed to find the end zone. Perhaps the uptick in usage and playing time had to do with Geoff Swaim being inactive.
It was another awesome game from Marvin Jones, who caught 10-of-12 targets for 112 yards and a touchdown. He’s now the WR7 in fantasy football since Week 10, ranking eighth in receiving yards (471), seventh in 100-yard games (2) and sixth in red-zone targets (15) during that span. Jones is averaging 10 targets per game over his last six games and it seems extremely unlikely that Kenny Golladay returns this season, keeping Marv in the WR2 range for championship weekend.
Although Peterson saw some early short-yardage work, that usage quickly turned to Swift, who finished the game with three carries from inside the 5-yard line, tied for the second-most among all running backs from Week 15. He also saw 33% of Detroit’s red-zone carries in this game and although a tough matchup with Tampa Bay is on tap next week, Swift remains a rock-solid RB2.
Dallas Cowboys 41, San Francisco 49ers 33
We got huge news around 11:30 Sunday morning. Ezekiel Elliott was ruled out, forcing many DFS players to adjust their lineups, while season-long players debated plugging Tony Pollard into lineups. Hopefully you did, as he exploded for 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, while adding six catches for 63 yards in the passing game. Pollard dominated the workload, playing 90% of the snaps and handling 18 of the 22 running back touches. He looked more explosive than Elliott has all year long, especially on his game-clinching 40-yard touchdown run. For the season, Pollard has now avoided 21 tackles on 87 carries compared to Zeke’s 27 avoided tackles on 211 carries. He’d be a low-end RB1 if Elliott sits out again next week.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco backfield remains a constant revolving door. Raheem Mostert got the start in this game and carried the ball 14 times for 68 yards before exiting with an ankle injury. He saw seven of the team’s first nine carries, with Jeffery Wilson taking over once Mostert left the game. Wilson finished with a 46% snap rate and 16 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. Mostert was dealing with an ankle issue for much of the season so it is possible he is simply shut down with San Francisco eliminated from playoff contention.
What more can you say about Brandon Aiyuk? He scored again Sunday, giving him a touchdown in five of his last seven games. Aiyuk saw a 31.7% target share in this game, as he continues to have the offense revolve around him. In fact, these are his target share percentages since Week 8: 31.7%, 36.3%, 23.0%, 35.8%, 25.0%. During that span, he is averaging a gaudy 12.5 targets per game.
Seattle Seahawks 20, Washington Football Team 15
Antonio Gibson is still dealing with turf toe, allowing J.D. McKissic to start for the second straight game. He dominated the snaps over Peyton Barber 70-13, while outcarrying him 13-4. We knew that he would get more work in the passing game, but it was encouraging to see him get 13 carries, despite the fact that Barber scored a one-yard touchdown. He ran 41 pass routes Sunday, the most by any running back on the week, while quarterback Dwayne Haskins targeted him 10 times. McKissic hauled in nine of those targets for 56 yards and a touchdown, giving him an awesome 22 touches on the day. Gibson hasn’t practiced much at all over the last two weeks, making it very possible that he sits out again in Week 15 against the Panthers shaky run defense.
Meanwhile, Tyler Lockett started off the game pretty well, hauling in four catches for 34 yards after the first handful of drives. However, he finished the game with that stat line, giving him eight straight games with fewer than 70 receiving yards, while scoring just one touchdown during that stretch. Seattle has gone back to a run-first mentality with Chris Carson healthy and running well, as Russell Wilson has been under 30 pass attempts in three of his last five contests. The production just hasn’t been there as of late and heading into a Week 15 matchup with a tough Rams defense, Lockett isn’t someone that you have to start in your championship matchups.
Chicago Bears 33, Minnesota Vikings 27
David Montgomery has been winning people fantasy championships as of late and that continued Sunday, as he torched the Vikings for a career-best game. He rushed for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a career-high 32 carries, as the Bears went back to feeding him the rock after limiting his usage in a blowout in Week 14. Cordarrelle Patterson often gets mixed in, especially in the red zone, but he left this game with an injury after playing just six offensive snaps. He’s now rushed for 100 yards in three of his last four outings, while scoring six total touchdowns during that span. Since Week 12, Montgomery is the RB1 in all of fantasy, averaging just over 26 fantasy points per game. He looks more explosive and continues to shed through tackles, averaging a healthy 4.13 yards after contact per attempt during that span (fifth in the NFL). To end the fantasy season, Montgomery gets a Jaguars defense that is among the worst in football.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Atlanta Falcons 27
With Ronald Jones out, the Buccaneers turned back to Leonard Fournette, who was a healthy scratch back in Week 14. Fournette ended up playing 66% of the snaps and handling 17 of the 22 running back touches. The efficiency wasn’t great, as Fournette rushed for just 49 yards on 14 carries but he made up for it with two rushing touchdowns. Jones could easily return next week, which could push Fournette back to the bench, or even a healthy scratch.
Antonio Brown scored his first touchdown of the season in this game, as Tom Brady really spread the ball around. Three different players (Brown, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski) saw seven targets, while Chris Godwin and Fournette were each targeted five times.
Arizona Cardinals 33, Philadelphia Eagles 26
The starting quarterback hasn’t been the only change in Philadelphia’s offense over the last two weeks. Doug Pederson is finally committing to Miles Sanders, who logged a season-high 81% of the snaps back in Week 14. That number jumped up to 83% against the Cardinals on Sunday and while he didn’t have a repeat performance of his game against the Saints, he still dominated the playing time and touches, as he had 100% of the Eagles running back carries. He out-touched Boston Scott 18-1, while Corey Clement and Jordan Howard once again didn’t play an offensive snap. With 36 touches over his last two games, Sanders finds himself in an eruption spot in Week 16 against the Cowboys.
Chase Edmonds was banged up entering this game and was expected to be limited if he suited up. However, he ended up playing 36 snaps to 34 for Kenyan Drake, who left the game for a period of time with a minor injury. Edmonds finished the game with 14 touches to Drake’s 12 and also scored a receiving touchdown. The Cardinals, despite scoring 33 points, actually didn’t have many goal-to-go opportunities in this game, which ultimately hurt Drake.
New York Jets 23, Los Angeles Rams 20
Cam Akers was viewed as a must-start option after his 32-touch outing against New England. He got the start Sunday against the Jets, but the Rams laid an absolute egg, struggling to sustain drives the entire first half. Akers also suffered an ankle injury and had to leave the game for a bit. He did return and had multiple long runs called back by penalty, including a 20-yard touchdown run. He played nearly 90% of the offensive snaps in the second half but it was later reported that he suffered a high ankle sprain that will keep him sidelined for Week 16. Expect a split between Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown to end the season, with the latter getting more of the work on passing downs.
Kansas City Chiefs 32, New Orleans Saints 29
Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a nasty-looking hip/leg injury late in this game, and it’s unlikely that he plays the remainder two regular season games. Le'Veon Bell stepped in and carried the football 15 times for 62 yards and a touchdown and is now entrenched as Kansas City’s lead running back and gets two favorable matchups with the Falcons and Chargers. Darrel Williams could still be the two-minute running back, but Bell is locked into around 15 touches per game in the league’s most dominant offense. Back in Week 13 when CEH didn’t see the field with an illness, Bell ended up playing 52% of the offensive snaps and touching the ball 13 times. That is likely his floor for usage going forward.
Cleveland Browns 20, New York Giants 6
I really don’t have any huge takeaways from this game. Baker Mayfield is rolling right now, bringing Jarvis Landry along with him. Landry caught seven of a team-high eight targets for 61 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night and he has now seen at least eight targets in five of seven games since the Browns lost Odell Beckham.
Cincinnati Bengals 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
A week after being benched for losing a fumble, Giovani Bernard exploded for 25 carries in a game with an unexpected positive gamescript for the Bengals. He scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown and logged nearly 68% of the offensive snaps. It was also encouraging to see him get five red-zone carries and one carry from inside the 5-yard line in this game.
Meanwhile, Benny Snell got the start with James Conner sidelined. He dominated the playing time, logging 78.4% of the offensive snaps, while handling 21 of the 25 running back touches. The Steelers have always preferred to use one running back so Snell would be a viable flex option if Conner can’t return next week against the Colts, though this Pittsburgh offense is flat-out broken at the moment.