The worst fantasy football performances of Week 15
If you survived your fantasy playoffs this week, you didn’t do it because you were great. You did it because your opponent was slightly more horrible.
So bad. It was all so, so bad in Week 15. We should have been tipped off by Thursday’s 12-6 Arizona-St. Louis game, which drew all the Twitter ire. (And that’s before Week 16′s Tennessee-Jacksonville game.)
Cincinnati had 30 points, Dallas had 38 and New England had 41. Those were the only teams that had 30 or more. Of the 30 teams that have played this week so far (New Orleans-Chicago left to play), 19 of them had 19 or fewer points, including four at 10 or fewer.
It would be more than easy to fill out a list of the week’s worst performances with a bunch of zero- and one-point games. So I’m not going to do that, and I’m going to focus more on guys who might have had more relevance. A guy started in 60 percent of leagues who puts up two fantasy points is terrible; a guy started in 100 percent of leagues who puts up five is worse.
So let’s look at the disaster that was Week 15:
Worst quarterbacks in Week 15
Johnny Manziel, CLE (80 passing yards, 2 interceptions, 13 rushing yards, 0 fantasy points)
I just refuse to believe sports teams are dumb. They might have blind spots or make bad decisions, but with few exceptions, guys don’t get to professional front offices or coaching staffs without some semblance of brains. So yeah, Brian Hoyer has been godawful, but there had to be a reason the Browns took so long to go to Manziel, and that reason had to be more than “Dude parties.” Kinda feels like we saw those reasons Sunday — Manziel was inaccurate, struggled to escape pressure, and just plain looked overmatched. One game is way too small a sample to deem anyone a bust, but it was certainly a huge disappointment.
Next game: Here’s the thing, though: If you invested in Manziel as your backup, or even as a starter for Week 15, you have to keep him for Week 16 at Carolina. Under no circumstances can you start Manziel, but everyone gets one. Maybe he rebounds in Week 16, and we can start thinking good thoughts again.
Andy Dalton, CIN (117 passing yards, 1 interception, 3 rushing yards, 2 fantasy points)
You know how key players and coaches all shake hands and dude-hug with their counterparts after the games? In my mind, when Dalton and Manziel shared their postgame moment, Dalton whispered to Manziel, “Dude, thank you.” Because Dalton was certifiably awful Sunday, but the fact that Manziel was worse saved Dalton from another experience like the one he laid an egg against Cleveland in Week 10. There’s just been more bad than good for Dalton this year, and you’d have to think Bengals fans are already regretting his contract.
Next game: The Bengals host the Broncos Monday night. A game against Denver usually promises points, which means good things for quarterbacks, but Dalton is just far too scary to use.
Aaron Rodgers, GB (185 receiving yards, 2 interceptions, 27 rushing yards, 5 fantasy points)
There were a lot of terrible quarterbacks this week. Some fifteen guys who played significant minutes had single-digit fantasy points. But this is Week 15, which means it’s the fantasy playoffs, which means the studs matter even more. And Rodgers probably ended a lot of fantasy seasons with his Sunday dud (mine included, *sob*). We might need to be talking about the Buffalo defense, though, because it has allowed 11 fantasy points combined to the last four starting quarterbacks it has faced. Sure, two of those were Brian Hoyer and Michael Vick, but the other two were Rodgers and Peyton damn Manning. Bills over there, doin’ things.
Next game: If you managed to survive the week despite Rodgers, you get a delightful-looking matchup in Week 16 at Tampa Bay. Remember when he said to “R-E-L-A-X?” Yeah, do that.
Worst running backs in Week 15
Rashad Jennings, NYG (3 rushing yards, 0 fantasy points)
Jennings was scary coming into Week 15, with his lingering ankle injury and a decent Washington run defense ahead of him. But still, it was Rashad Jennings — a guy who, when healthy, had been more than competent so far this season. So a lot of people probably invested in Jennings as a low-end player in their fantasy playoffs, and then had to watch as he aggravated that ankle injury on his first carry Sunday. Jennings left the game (for Andre Williams, who didn’t exactly light it up in Jennings’ stead), and early reports are that he might have also left 2014.
Next game: Next year, maybe. Sucks.
Tre Mason, STL (33 rushing yards, 1 fumble lost, 1 fantasy point)
Sure, the Thursday matchup against Arizona was daunting, but the rookie was on a six-game stretch of at least six fantasy points a game, including some other intimidating defenses. But Mason couldn’t get anything going Thursday (to be fair, neither could anyone else in that game), and he fumbled early, putting himself in a hole. The rookie has been good, and there’s a lot of reason for optimism for him going forward, but Thursday was a reminder that guys don’t just come out and become Odell Beckham Jr. all the time.
Next game: At the Giants next week, you have to like Mason way more. If you survived his Thursday performance, you could easily justify using him in Week16.
Justin Forsett, BAL (48 rushing yards, -1 receiving yard, 4 fantasy points)
Alfred Morris, WAS (49 rushing yards, 4 fantasy points)
The fortunes of Forsett and Morris have gone in different directions of late: Morris was a No. 1 running back early in the season, but the recent struggles of the Washington offense have completely hamstrung him. Meanwhile, Forsett was drafted in as few leagues as it is possible to be drafted in, only for him to be dominant this season, with at least six fantasy points in every game before Sunday’s letdown. Forsett likely cost more owners than did Morris, but neither one helped anything.
Next game: Washington hosts Philadelphia in Week 16; Baltimore travels to Houston. You’d be forgiven for benching Morris, but Forsett’s 2014 track record means you’ve got to run him back out there.
Worst wide receivers in Week 15
Sammy Watkins, BUF (28 receiving yards, 2 fantasy points)
The total of 28 yards is bad enough. But Watkins caught only one pass in this game, and now has three or fewer fantasy points in five of his last six games. A promising rookie season has completely fallen apart for Watkins the last few weeks. It’s not entirely his fault — Kyle Orton hasn’t been good, and Watkins was hindered by an injury during that time — but a receiver that for a while looked like a must-start when active is now barely usable.
Next game: At Oakland next week, you want to like Watkins, but I just don’t see how you can run him out there, as much as he’s struggled. Look elsewhere.
A.J. Green, CIN (49 receiving yards, 4 fantasy points)
Josh Gordon, CLE (48 receiving yards, 4 fantasy points)
Just like their quarterbacks, these two faced one another Sunday, and neither could get going. And yes, you can largely blame their quarterbacks, because Andy Dalton and Johnny Manziel could do nothing. While Gordon has largely been a disappointment since his return from suspension, Green had played really well when healthy so far, so that one had to be more surprising, and more disappointing.
Next game: The Bengals host the Broncos; the Browns travel to Carolina. I don’t know how you start any Cleveland offensive player until you see that they have a quarterback somewhere in the neighborhood of competence. Green, meanwhile, ought to be fine.
The quaddro of sadness
T.Y. Hilton, IND (50 receiving yards, 5 fantasy points)
Calvin Johnson, DET (53 receiving yards, 5 fantasy points)
Jordy Nelson, GB (55 receiving yards, 5 fantasy points)
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (53 receiving yards, 5 fantasy points)
Normally, a game with five fantasy points is enough to keep a receiver out of the worst of the worst. It’s bad, but it’s still a few points, a tiny bit helpful. But these four are all top-10 receivers or close, and in the fantasy playoffs, you need your studs to put up big numbers. (I know, because my team in the semifinals had appearing-in-this-space Rodgers, Morris, Hilton and Johnson, *sob* *again*.) There’s not much you can do about your superstars disappointing beyond shrug, curse the world, and hope you can survive the week anyway.
Next game: With those guys? The matchup is irrelevant. You just start them again and hope.
Worst tight ends in Week 15
Jordan Cameron, CLE (4 receiving yards, 0 fantasy points)
Hey, look, another member of the Browns. There’s not much more to say about the team’s putrid offensive performance Sunday, so let’s look at Cameron overall. We all saw what he did last year, and you have to believe it’s still in there. But Cameron has played in eight games (of 14) this year, and put up more than four points exactly once. This late in the season, you can’t keep drawing on “potential.” There has to be results, and Cameron hasn’t had them.
Next game: At Carolina next week, it’s the same old story with Cameron and his potential. But with that quarterback situation, and those disappointing numbers, you have to find something else.
Larry Donnell, NYG (11 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
Jordan Reed, WAS (13 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
These two played each other Sunday. These two have provided reasons for optimism (Reed’s impressive athleticism; Donnell’s early-season performance). But these two have done little to justify any faith. Reed has two or fewer fantasy points four times in his last five games; Donnell has three or fewer five times in six games. If you’re still using them, I’m sorry.
Next game: The problem is, who the heck do you turn to? As the once-good tight ends fade, there aren’t newly good ones sliding up to take their place. Good luck, friend.
Julius Thomas, DEN (30 receiving yards, 3 fantasy points)
Thomas missed two games, and has three catches for 33 yards in the two games he’s played since coming back. What had been a dominant season now features, in 14 Broncos games, seven games of three fantasy points or fewer or an injury absence, and all seven of those have come in the last nine weeks.
Next game: Once again, what’s your alternative? If you’ve made it this far in your fantasy playoffs, you’re stuck with him.
Worst defense/special teams in Week 15
Miami Dolphins (41 points allowed, 1 interception, -2 fantasy points)
It’s no surprise that, in a week with so many awful performances, the defenses by and large did pretty well. Miami’s unit was the only one across the whole league that put up negative fantasy numbers this week (of course, that’s before Monday’s game between New Orleans and Chicago, which could change things in a big way). Remember when the Dolphins were a great defense? They aren’t anymore.