Each week Bobby Smith previews the Flukes or Flames from the fantasy world! Follow Bobby on Twitter at @fosterfantasy
Week to week we know we have surprise fantasy producers, wild weeks from regulars and then our disappointments from all over the board. This column is to help you, the waiver-wire searching, deep stat diving, sometimes FAAB spending fantasy enthusiast know which players are worth picking up or stashing. I will give you a fluke and a flame for each position, unless there are a couple that either have major bust or boom capability. Flukes will be those who have put up big numbers and are either down or are trending down. Flames will be those who are lighting the fantasy world on fire or look to keep stacking up points for those who took a chance on them.
Week 14 was fairly cut and dry. There were a few surprise performance and a couple of surprise wins but overall it played out to expectations for most pundits, writers, and fans. The outstanding performances include David Montgomery and the Bears absolutely owning the Texans, Cam Akers running all over the Patriots, and Derrick Henry being an absolute beast again to the tune of 215 yards. Injuries seem to have been light on the fantasy side and Covid has been light as well. Miles Gaskin is out for Week 15 as well after missing the game against KC with Covid. Ronald Jones II has a pin in his pinky after breaking it this week. His status for Week 15 is doubtful but not assuredly out. Julio Jones will be question mark for the rest of the season with a balky hamstring and a team going nowhere. He could sit out the rest of the season. Christian McCaffrey is doubtful again for Week 15 and may follow the same path as Jones. Drew Brees is practicing this week to see if he is ready to rejoin the Saints and there is a trove of questionable statuses on the usual bumps and bruises that one would expect in Week 15. On the good news side, DJ Moore and John Brown are both being activated this week and may be ready for some sort of role for Week 15.
Week 15 is here and we are in the midst of a full blown playoff race. I know in most leagues, including mine, it is an unwritten rule that if you aren’t in the playoffs, you don’t touch the waiver wire. Sometimes we ask in chat or our text feed if anyone wants a player so we can fill injury spots but that is few and far between. So hopefully this week, for those in the playoffs, it will be easier to pick up a few guys to fight for the title. As for the Week 14 F&F outcomes, I think we NAILED the week! We missed on Jamison Crowder due to a calf injury and the Panthers D choked a winnable game and looked pedestrian. Everything else we looked good on and scored big points on the Flames! This week’s focus will be on waiver wire pick ups and absolute gems in matchups on the Flames list so we can focus on putting our best feet forward and plug any holes in our playoff boats.
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks started the season strong on the back of a great offense. The offense sputtered for four weeks not breaking 30 points after putting up 30+ in 7 of the first 8 weeks that they played. Injuries have played a part in the downturn, with the RBs being hit hard and really hurting that dimension of their game. They righted the ship against the hapless Jets but now have two games against really good defenses. Washington has really come on strong and looks like the NFC East champion and most of that is on the back of their up and coming D. That spells trouble for Wilson and the Hawks. Every game, so far this season , that Wilson has played against a Top 10 defense has been a missed projection except two and a lot of those misses were BAD misses. His projection for this week in half PPR is around 29 points. He needs 300 yards and 2 TDs without a miscue to get that safely. I don’t see that happening. Anyone who starts Wilson needs to hope he throws it around the end zone or runs himself and poaches some TDs from RBs to get his points.
Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
I told you all last week to come back to Goff this week. The Jets are the reason why. Soft and cushy matchup, even with the Rams running the ball so well means some good points for Goff. He may or may not break 30 but there should be no reason he misses his projection that sits around 23-24. If you don’t want to take the risk or he isn’t available in your league, Philip Rivers is a little more available and plays the Texans who just got torched by the Bears and Mitch Trubisky. His projection looks to be pretty low at 23 as well. Outside the QBs that are possible pickups, Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady look to be MUST starts against the Jags and Falcons.
Kenyan Drake – Arizona Cardinals
This one is the difficult one this week. A lot of the guys I wanted to choose didn’t have a good week in the past couple of weeks and there are a lot of good matchups too. That lead me down to two RBs, Kenyan Drake and Dalvin Cook. Dalvin has a tough stretch though the playoffs but he is Dalvin Cook and the Vikings feed him the ball well. Alex Mattison is also down this week with appendicitis so that figures to just add another plus to his game. Therefore, Drake is our Fluke. He has been hitting double digits but usage has been up and down. He had 25 touches two weeks ago but then only 12 last week. The matchup against the Giants looks good on paper but its tougher than it looks. The Giants are hot right now and with Daniel Jones back and available this week, Gallman running well, and the NYG playing well, it could be a much harder game to win that one would have thought earlier in the season. The Cardinals are also on a losing streak in which the offense has been sputtering in the last three weeks, even if Kenyan fared well. So I’m calling for this matchup and the rest of the schedule to put a fluke status on Mr. Drake.
Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams
Once again, there are so many good matchups for RBs near the top of the list and those who don’t have a good matchup haven’t had good weeks in a while. Adam Jones, Derrick Henry, Chris Carson and James Robinson are all worthy of a flame status this week with Jones and Henry having positive matchups for the rest of the season. But, for the sake of pickups and keeping true to the column, I will go with Cam and what may be his new status as lead back for the Rams. Cam is available in many leagues, especially if the leagues are shallow with 10 teams or less (53% owned in Yahoo leagues). His projection is low but a lot of those are off from him being in a committee throughout the season. He got a season high in carries and 7 of the 21 carries were inside the 10 yard line. The Rams love to run the ball to set up the play action pass and if Akers becomes the man in the backfield, it would be a plush place to be and good for fantasy team owners that place trust in that. The schedule is ok with the toughest opponent being the Seahawks in Week 16 in a rematch.
Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons
This one could be fluked in several different ways. If Julio plays, that downplays Ridley’s week. But, that isn’t likely according to latest news. The Falcons are playing Tampa Bay this week. Not a powerhouse defense as it comes to giving up points to WRs but if the Falcons O-Line cant keep them off Matt Ryan, there will be a problem. There is also the fact that Ridley has been playing with a mild foot sprain but that didn’t stop him last week. If it all comes out in Ridley’s favor, it could be another decent week (14-17pts is what I think). But if nothing goes in his favor, it could be a down week against a better defense. Other possibilities for flukiness in Week 15 include Tyreek Hill against New Orleans and DK Metcalf at Washington.
Nelson Agholor – Las Vegas Raiders
This is an obvious choice as he is the most recent trending pickup in just about every fantasy outlet. After a good week against a good defense, Nelson and the Raiders get a bit of an easier matchup against the Chargers. Henry Ruggs is also out for this week so that bumps up target shares for everyone just a little bit. Nelson also scored in the double digits in the road game against the Chargers earlier this season so there is a track record for success. Other probable Flames can be found in T.Y. Hilton against the Texans, A.J. Brown against the Lions and pick your poison in LA with a Rams WR against the Jets.
Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints
Cook hasn’t necessarily been having a big points streak but he has well exceeded projections for the last two weeks. I don’t quite know if this will continue this week against KC. I have a feeling that Brees may be back this week if he is feeling any sort of close to good. The Saints have lost the automatic bye week after losing to Philly and another loss may push them further down the list. Even if they don’t get back into the 1st seed, keeping themselves in prime home field position would be wise. If Brees is back, Cook falls back down the pecking order and Kamara and Thomas become the focal points again. If he isn’t back, Cook is TD dependent getting 4-5 looks a game behind Taysom Hill.
Irv Smith Jr – Minnesota Vikings
TE is such a hard place to find points beyond the Top 3-5 players. I know everyone knows that but still, there is a hole to fill and you need a name to Flame! There really isn’t a better choice this week that doesn’t play in a virtual timeshare than Irv Smith. He has taken the opportunity that Kyle Rudolph going down brought him last week and ran with it. He didn’t get much in the way of looks in the bad loss to TB but what he got, he used to lead the team in receiving yards and a score. He looks to be the main TE again this week in another tough but plus for him in fantasy matchup. If you need to stream, this is your guy. Other possibilities for Flames include Tonyan again against Carolina and Ebron with the Steelers going down the road to Cincy.
Green Bay Packers
The matchup looks good on paper with Carolina struggling and letting Denver score 32 points on them last week. But Green Bay has a knack of letting opposing offenses stick around and Carolina did score 27 points of their own last week. That is a big red flag for any one looking for a defense to stream this week.
They have been struggling against the good teams they finally faced the last two weeks. It isn’t all on the defense but looking on the schedule and seeing an injured and struggling Bengals team has to be a relief. This defense knows how to put up points against lowly competition so if you have them, play them. As for a streamable defense, Arizona has a good matchup even though Philly has Hurts starting instead of Wentz. San Francisco also has a decent matchup with the Cowboys.
Matt Gay – Los Angeles Rams
A plus matchup for the offense usually leads to a lot of extra points for kickers and not a lot of FGs. This seems to be the outlook for Matt this week.
Rodrigo Blankenship – Indianapolis Colts
I’m sticking with Hot Rod since he is still available in a good chunk of leagues and the matchup against the Texans looks really good. Joey Slye is another good Flame candidate as long as the Panthers keep moving the ball at least to FG range.