Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Three weeks ago, Wilson was a struggling passer who had fallen short of 200 yards in 4 straight games. He finished home games against the Raiders and Giants with 0 TD passes and had fantasy owners panicking. Well, if you're still alive in your fantasy league with Wilson as your top QB, then you need not worry so much anymore.
The biggest plus with Wilson continues to be his rushing. His 48 yards against the Eagles on Sunday marked the 4th time in 5 games that he reached that mark. His TD run made 5 for the year so far. And Wilson has added 3 straight games of 211+ passing yards. Over his past 4 outings, he has tallied 6 TD passes with no INTs.
Week 15 brings a less-than-ideal matchup with the Niners, but Wilson didn't crush fantasy owners with his Week 13 game at their place. His 236-1 passing plus 35 rushing yards found Wilson 18th among fantasy QBs that week. That put him just behind far less safe fantasy starters Drew Stanton and Andy Dalton (who got lucky with a rushing TD) and only 3 spots behind Tom Brady.
San Francisco followed that by letting Derek Carr throw for 254 yards and 3 TDs with 78.6% completions. Does that D scare you?
Then comes a road rematch with Arizona, which let Wilson finish 11th among fantasy passers back in Week 12 -- thanks largely to 73 rushing yards.
There will be better fantasy options at QB over the next 2 weeks, but you don't need to hunt for a replacement if you've been riding Wilson.
Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, Jets
Don’t look now, but the Jets' running game is on a roll. They piled up 227 rushing yards against Miami 2 weeks ago and ran for 168 against Minnesota this Sunday.
Ivory and Johnson combined for 126 yards vs. the Vikes. Both guys carried 16 times, with Ivory out-producing Johnson 73 yards to 53. Johnson had the slight edge in the receiving department, posting a 2-13 line to Ivory’s 1-4.
This backfield has been a pure committee over the past 4 weeks. Ivory has played 133 snaps and totaled 57 touches. Johnson has played 130 with 53 touches.
That split obviously limits each guy's upside. But it also makes both viable fantasy starters in Week 15’s juicy matchup against the Titans. Tennessee has allowed a 100-yard rusher in 5 of its last 6 games, yielding 4.95 yards per during over that stretch.
Consider Ivory the better fantasy play as the superior overall runner and TD bet. Johnson gets an upgrade in PPR and has the “revenge factor” working against his former team.
Ivory and Johnson will be much less appealing fantasy plays against the Patriots in Week 16.
Steve Smith, Ravens
Smith entered Sunday’s matchup at Miami with just 19 catches, 246 yards and 1 TD over his past 6 games. But with teammate Torrey Smith hobbled by a knee injury, the former Panther posted a 7-70-1 line on a team-high 11 targets.
Smith last drew double-digit targets back in Week 2. But there’s a real chance he retains a high-volume role over the next 2 weeks. While an MRI on Torrey Smith’s knee didn’t reveal a ligament tear, he is dealing with a sprain. That has his Week 15 availability up in the air.
Smith Sr. will carry WR2 appeal if Torrey’s forced to miss time, especially with such a favorable schedule. Baltimore gets 2 bottom-10 pass defenses in Jacksonville and Houston to close out the fantasy season. The Texans look especially generous, as they’ve allowed 3 WR scores over the past 2 weeks despite matchups with Tennessee and Jacksonville.
Jordan Cameron, Browns
After sitting out since Week 8 with a concussion, Cameron snagged a season-high 4 receptions in his return Sunday. His 41 receiving yards also led the team on another poor passing day for Brian Hoyer.
Johnny Manziel will be under center for Week 15, and it’s tough to imagine the rookie being worse than Hoyer has been.
Manziel and Cameron get a Bengals D this week that just finished allowing 42 points -- including 3 passing TDs and 350 yards -- to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Cincinnati has also already allowed 7 games of 50+ receiving yards to TEs this season. Cameron caught at least 6 passes in each meeting with the Bengals last year.
Behind the Bengals sits a Panthers defense that has allowed TE scores in 4 of its past 6 games, plus a 116-yard night to Brent Celek in 1 of the non-TD weeks.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles
There's nothing embarrassing about having trouble against Seattle. Though the Seahawks struggled a bit -- by their recent standards -- earlier this season, the D has gotten healthy and now beat up 3 straight opponents.
Still, just how helpless Sanchez looked in completing only 10 of 20 passes for 90 yards worried us. It's more worrisome when you also consider that he played poorly vs. the Titans in Philly's previous home game. That included throwing a pair of INTs -- and just 1 TD -- while getting outdueled by Zach Mettenberger in terms of fantasy numbers.
In between those 2 games, of course, Sanchez looked just fine in going 20-of-29 passing at Dallas for 217 yards, 1 TD and no INTs -- plus a rushing score. Even that game drew a negative passing grade from Pro Football Focus, though.
We're not taking Sanchez out of fantasy-starter range this week against a Dallas D that has trouble pressuring the QB. And it'll take a pretty weak outing from Sanchez this weekend to keep us from using him at Washington in Week 16. He just gets a "down" arrow because it's not as easy to start him now as it was after his 1st 2 starts. Just like it did with Nick Foles, however, at least the situation helps.
Denard Robinson, Jaguars
Robinson has hit the rookie wall. The college QB has now carried 135 times over 13 games. That’s a lot of physical pounding for a 197-pounder -- especially 1 who didn’t get accustomed to it in college.
In 3 games since Jacksonville's bye, Robinson has mustered just 99 yards on 35 carries. That’s an ugly 2.8-yard average. And all 3 of those opponents rank 18th or worse against RBs. The Colts, Giants and Texans allow an average of 4.45 yards per carry.
We learned on Tuesday that afternoon that Robinson has a mid-foot sprain, leaving his availability for Week 15 and beyond uncertain. Even if he plays this Sunday, Robinson is extremely difficult to like against Baltimore’s top-ranked RB defense. The Ravens allow just 3.5 yards per carry to RBs.
Robinson finishes up the fantasy campaign with a prime matchup against a Titans defense that’s packed it in for the season. Tennessee has allowed a 100-yard rusher in 5 of its last 6 games. If healthy, Robinson might be worth using in Week 16.
Josh Gordon, Browns
HC Mike Pettine said after Sunday's game that the coaching staff decided to decrease Gordon's reps and took him out on 3rd downs vs. Indy. Cleveland's #1 WR still played just 2 fewer snaps than the week before, though, and the same number as in his Week 12 debut. That actually made for a season-high 79.4% of the team's offensive total. So we're not completely sure what the coaches were trying to accomplish ... and whether they believe they did.
It certainly appears, though, that Gordon's role has hurt the offense since he returned. QB Brian Hoyer sported an 86.0 QB rating and threw 11 TDs vs. 5 INTs before Gordon returned from his suspension. The 3 games since Gordon's return have seen ratings of 52.3, 51.0 and 31.7, with 7 INTs and no TDs.
Is that Gordon's fault? Of course not. Has he caused Hoyer to tank? No way. But Cleveland tried to force the ball to its top playmaker a bit too much, targeting him 29 times over his 1st 2 games back. That constituted 37.2% of the team's total pass attempts over those games.
Gordon drew just 7 looks against Indy, and we'd guess that the Browns will continue with a plan closer to that than to load him up with a bunch more targets going forward. There's also the uncertainty at QB with a rookie now under center, although it’s tough to imagine Johnny Manziel being any worse than Hoyer has been.
Gordon's superior talent will keep him well within the starter discussion going forward, and he sits inside our top 20 at WR for Week 15. But he's not quite the lineup lock that he looked like just a week ago.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
QB Teddy Bridgewater turned in the best performance of his young career against the Jets on Sunday, chucking for 309 yards and 2 TDs. But Rudolph was nowhere to be found. He finished with 2 catches for 9 scoreless yards. His 2 targets represented just 7.4% of Bridgewater’s total attempts and ranked 5th on the team behind Greg Jennings, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright and Matt Asiata.
In 3 games since returning from his groin injury, Rudolph has posted lines of 3-50, 2-7-1 and 2-9. He’s totaled just 8 targets. Rudolph is playing a full complement of snaps but is spending more than half of them blocking.
Rudolph is no more than a TD-dependent fantasy flier down the stretch.