This is it. For all the marbles. Here’s a few players you should reconsider after down performances in Week 15.
Marcus Mariota (TEN) Last Game: @NYG Next Game: vs WAS
It has been a roller coaster season from the start for the former Heisman Trophy Winner. Mariota has dealt with nerve damage in his throwing elbow, inconsistent play from his supporting cast, all while trying to learn a new offensive scheme under offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur. It is generally believed that it takes an offense within the NFL, nearly eight weeks to start clicking. Week 8 was Tennessee’s bye and then Mariota took off in Week 9.
One of the easier second half schedules in all of football, in terms of quarterback matchups, Mariota posted over 20 fantasy points in four of the next five games (Week 9 vs DAL, Week 10 vs NE, Week 12 vs HOU and Week 13 vs NYJ). Then, in Weeks 14 and 15, the Titans discovered a running back on their roster by the name of Derrick Henry. In those two combined games, Henry totalled 50 carries for 408 yards and six touchdowns. Mariota wasn’t even needed. They could have won those games with Blaine Gabbert in hindsight. Ok, well maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. The fact remains that Henry is now a legitimate rushing threat to pair with a mobile quarterback.
The Washington Redskins currently tote a middle of the pack rush defense (17th in NFL) allowing 113.7 YPG. The Skins are even worse in the passing game (26th in NFL), allowing an average of 201.6 P/YPG. One would think with a front seven that boasts Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Ryan Kerrigan they would be more than willing to take on the task to shut down Henry and Dion Lewis and have decent success in doing so. Expect a sincere attempt to quell the rushing attack of Tennessee from the Washington defense — who surprisingly is still in the mix for the playoffs (29.2% chance of a wildcard berth) — and a much bigger day than most analysts are expecting for Mariota and the Titans’ passing attack.
Kenyan Drake (MIA) Last Game: @MIN Next Game: vs JAC
When an NFL running back averages 4.6 YPC and 9.0 YPR, you would think that his respective coaching staff would want to feed him the ball. Apparently in Miami, even when their mainstay attraction Frank Gore goes out with an injury, that isn’t the case, and we saw Drake receive just a single carry to go with his monstrous three targets.
Head coach Adam Gase stated after the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, where Kalen Ballage received all the work post-Gore, that Drake’s lack of involvement wasn’t due to injury. Local beat reporters claimed that Drake was in fact dealing with knee and shoulder injuries and that was why his workload had diminished between weeks 13 and 15. Mind you during those three weeks he still averaged 12.5 PPR FP/G, his carries dwindled to 7/6/1 and he was targeted 4/1/3 times in those games respectively.
Ballage is incredible in straight line speed and touts a 4.46 40-yard dash, but performed poorly in the 20-yard shuttle (4.35) and posted just a 6.91 in the three cone drill. PlayerProfiler.com has Ballage scoring in the 45th percentile burst and 62nd percentile agility score. Meanwhile, Drake boasts more burst with a 58th percentile score and showed better in the agility department with a 64th percentile score. This all points to Drake seeing more work in the passing game, even though Ballage has decent hands, there’s a reason he wasn’t a full three-down back in college.
Ballage crested 1,000 total scrimmage yards just once (2016), where he reached 1,005 yards, in his full four-year college career at Arizona State University. Miami is miraculously still alive and in the playoff hunt, albeit just a 3.0% chance at a wild card berth. There’s a saying in the NFL, ‘Any Given Sunday,’ and even against a flailing – yet sometimes dominant – Jacksonville Jaguars defense, you can envision the Dolphins fighting for a win. Should they choose to do so, Drake is a player that needs to be involved.
Adam Thielen (MIN) Last Game: vs MIA Next Game: @DET
In most league playoff matchups this past weekend, you would have attempted to utilize good process when setting your lineup. The fourth-ranked receiver in fantasy points was surely being started across the board. Most owners didn’t see two catches on two targets for just 19 yards coming from Thielen. But, it happened, and for some that lack of production among others, cost you a trip to the title game. If your league still has payouts for second and third place finishers, you might still be concerned about Thielen’s dependability — don’t be.
Since acquiring Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, the Detroit Lions’ defense has been fairly stout against the run. Having said that, and with Minnesota coming off a dominating game on the ground, you might second guess what kind of volume would be in store for Thielen. The game is at Detroit, and has a decent projected point total, and Stefon Diggs will be facing Darius Slay. Look for Thielen to have a solid day for your championship hopes.
Blake Jarwin (DAL) Last Game: @IND Next Game: vs TB
This isn’t as much of a bounce back as say an in your face reminder that Jarwin is the current TE1 in Dallas. The Cowboys are at home this week against a horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. Jarwin has back-to-back games with at least seven targets and he has quietly become Dak Prescott’s third option behind Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott. The Bucs hemorrhage points to the tight end position (9.1 FPG — 8th-most in NFL), and although shutout in Week 15, the Cowboys return home where they average nearly 10 more PPG than their road split. Look for Jarwin to have a much better day than in Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts (8.5 PPR FP), as the Bucs look to keep Elliott and Cooper from destroying them.
Good Luck This Weekend and Happy Holidays from the ATFP Team!!!
by Joshua Deisinger — @sconnieJosh