Fantasy Mailbag - Week 15

Is there any doubt about the identity of the NFL’s hottest team after Monday Night Football’s lopsided result? With a Power Ranking-redefining 42-14 drubbing of the Houston Texans, you won’t find many pundits willing to pick against the New England Patriots in any game moving forward.

Who would be favoured to topple them? The NFC’s top seed is the faltering Falcons. The 49ers (who the Pats host this weekend) have been inconsistent to say the least. The Broncos are still feeling their way past lesser opponents. The Ravens are in the midst of a significant coaching change. The Giants are solid at home but sloppy on the road. The Seahawks are the same.

No, top of the pecking order in this league - once again - are Bill Belichick’s and Tom Brady’s bunch. And unlike previous years, they’ve waited until the business end of the season to get truly hot.

And that could spell trouble for the rest of the National Football League.

Onto your fantasy questions for Week 15:

  • ‘Rookie RB David Wilson broke out for the Giants this week - one week wonder or ready to explode?’

David Newsome

This is a question that intrigues me because I face the same dilemma in a keeper league I play in (clearly, I have too much time on my hands). Do you start the explosive youngster that burst out for three touchdowns in Week 14 against the Saints? Or do you keep him on the bench for fear he won’t see that many looks again? Wilson is super-talented, a first round pick back in April that the Giants expect to evolve into their feature back down the line. But he’s raw, with issues with ball security and pass protection that have forced head coach Tom Coughlin - already sceptical about rookies - to limit his touches. Will his performance on Sunday encourage Coughlin to finally let him loose?

The biggest factor is the health of holdover Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants’ unquestioned starter when fully fit. In addition to his usual foot woes, Bradshaw has picked up a knee problem and the Giants’ staff is still waiting to find out his status for Week 15. It might be tough to tell from the outside looking in, at least initially, because Bradshaw is often rested on Wednesday and/or Thursday anyway. But by Friday we should have a sense of how New York’s backfield situation might play out. Keep an eye on news feeds and check back here for my own Two Minute Warning update on Friday, but for now my thinking is this: if Bradshaw is back to anything like normal, Wilson is too risky a play. But if Bradshaw sits, Wilson could have a CJ Spiller-like field day in Atlanta, and you’d have to start him.

  • ‘There’s a lot of talk about who the NFL MVP should be at the moment, who do you think the Fantasy MVP should be?

Lizzie Barry

There are still two weeks to go in most fantasy leagues (though, happily, there are three in the NFLUK competition), so things could certainly change. But on balance I think the individual that takes home the fantasy MVP trophy this year - and he can put alongside the Heisman he won in 2011 - is Robert Griffin III. He’s the first or second highest scoring fantasy player overall in most leagues (he’s been recently overtaken in some by Cam Newton, on an absolute tear over his last three games) and most importantly has been consistently productive from the word go - winning games in every way imaginable in every portion of the season (unlike, say, Newton). Nor does it hurt that, in NFLUK fantasy, he only costs $2 million. But his status is up in the air for Week 15, so could he be overtaken at the last hurdle? I think Adrian Peterson might yet be the guy - especially if he continues his incredible surge towards 2000 yards rushing (and beyond - Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 yard all time record is in sight too). Because of injury in 2011, AP was a bargain pickup in standard fantasy leagues (where he fell in drafts) and in NFLUK fantasy too (where he cost $3 million). He has rushed for 364 yards and three scores over the last two games alone, but has been solid since the opener. In Week 7 he took it to the next level versus Arizona, and he simply hasn’t looked back since. He’ll single-handedly win many of his owners trophies of their own the next two weeks.

  • ‘I need a fill in option at tight end this week because I haven’t yet found a lasting replacement for Rob Gronkowski and it’s must-win time.

Benjamin D

It says something about New England’s Gronkowksi that he remains fantasy’s top scoring tight end even having missed the last three weeks. What to do to fill his unfeasibly big shoes for this crucial weekend? I’m afraid there’s not a whole lot out there.

Those who placed their trust in the Raiders’ Brandon Myers in Week 14 were dismayed to see him follow up his 14-catch Week 13 outing with just one reception. While a bounce back is possible. It’s not hugely likely, so I’d avoid. The same could be said about Jacob Tamme in Denver, who followed two good weeks with just 24 yards last Thursday. He travels to Baltimore this weekend. And the same could also be said of Tampa’s Dallas Clark - who undid four good weeks in a row with a 1/19/0 line against the Eagles.

Other noteworthy tight ends on the majority of waiver wires worth a look: Tony Scheffler - who was more involved in Detroit’s attack than ever with Brandon Pettigrew’s injury last week. If Pettigrew is held out, he’d be an intriguing play. And Clay Harbour of the Eagles - he racked up 52 yards and a score with Brent Celek injured last week - and could repeat the trick with Celek out for this Thursday’s game against the Bengals too.

I see Martellus Bennett of the Giants and Greg Olsen of the Panthers are free agents in some leagues too. They shouldn’t be. If they’re available, go get them - especially Olsen. Otherwise, I’m afraid it’s a roll of the dice with Harbour, Scheffler (but only if Pettigrew is out), Tamme, Clark and Myers - roughly in that order.

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