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2017 STATS Fantasy Football: Week 15 Tiers

By: STATS LLC

Don’t forget, these tiers reflect non-PPR fantasy football scoring. The number in parentheses next to the player’s matchup indicates how many tiers they’d move up or down in PPR scoring. One thing to note – just because a RB may see a couple receptions doesn’t mean they would simply get a +1 rating. Keep in mind that these PPR ratings factor in the players surrounding him, so if he’s expected to get two receptions, but surrounded by players getting 3+ receptions, he could actually sink a bit, relatively speaking. Just remember that these are dynamic and do factor that aspect in.

The FLEX Rating is a number that allows you to compare each tier across the RB/WR/TE positions for FLEX decisions.

Also, remember that this article is written based on where my projections currently are on Thursday morning. For info on where players rank after Thursday, be sure to follow me on Twitter @the_oddsmaker.

Quarterbacks

The week after we lost another elite QB due to injury in Carson Wentz, we get back the Fantasy Football God himself, Aaron Rodgers. I’m handling him with a bit of caution this week as an often overlooked part of his fantasy value lies in his rushing stats (combined with elite passing numbers). Coming back from a broken collarbone the very first week he is medically cleared presents a decent re-injury risk.

Obviously the Packers know this, and I think, with Jamaal Williams giving their running game life, they rely on the RB a bit more than we typically see when Rodgers starts. I think they’ll urge Rodgers to simply throw it away, as opposed to extending plays with his legs. My belief that they’ll try to limit his usage some in his return leaves me projecting him as a solid QB1, but without his typical overall QB1 upside.

Tier 5 is one of the more intriguing groups to highlight. It’s amazing just how fast Jimmy Garoppolo has picked up Kyle Shanahan’s playbook after being traded to the 49ers mid-season. He’s pushing for a QB1 designation this week in a great spot against the Titans. It’s worth noting this will be his first start at home for the 49ers, which could possibly result in them opting to show off their new toy with passes around the goal line, verses just handing it off to Carlos Hyde.

The hype around Jared Goff as a sure fire QB1 has fizzled off, as he settled into the high-floor/low-ceiling type of player I felt he was. You can expect a 250-yard, two-touchdown game from him pretty much every week. The problem is, he doesn’t add any rushing stats of note, which causes him to finish in the middle of the pack most weeks.

Nick Foles makes for the best add of the three brand new QB starters we get this week. The matchup itself doesn’t pose many issues, as the Giants have entered into rebuilding mode. I would be worried about the Eagles getting out in front early and then using their five-man RB carousel to run out the clock, capping his upside.

Bryce Petty is just not very good and neither is T.J. Yates, who also has a brutal matchup to boot. They can hang out and play video games together in this week’s Basement Tier.

Tier 1

Russell Wilson (vs LAR)

Tier 2

Tom Brady (@ PIT)
Cam Newton (vs GB)

Tier 3

Drew Brees (vs NYJ)
Aaron Rodgers (@ CAR)
Ben Roethlisberger (vs NE)

Tier 4

Dak Prescott (@ OAK)
Matthew Stafford (vs CHI)
Philip Rivers (@ KC)
Matt Ryan (@ TB)
Case Keenum (vs CIN)
Kirk Cousins (vs ARI)
Alex Smith (vs LAC)

Tier 5

Jimmy Garoppolo (vs TEN)
Blake Bortles (vs HOU)
Jameis Winston (vs ATL)
Nick Foles (@ NYG)
Jared Goff (@ SEA)

Tier 6

Derek Carr (vs DAL)
Tyrod Taylor (vs MIA)
Marcus Mariota (@ SF)
Blaine Gabbert (@ WAS)

Tier 7

DeShone Kizer (vs BAL)
Trevor Siemian (@ IND)
Joe Flacco (@ CLE)

Tier 8

Mitchell Trubisky (@ DET)
Jacoby Brissett (vs DEN)
Jay Cutler (@ BUF)
Andy Dalton (@ MIN)

Tier 9

Eli Manning (vs PHI)

Tier 10

Bryce Petty (@ NO)
T.J. Yates (@ JAX)

Running Backs

As always, I must remind you that RB ranks are going to be the most volatile, since each individual back is inherently tied to the health/expected-touch count of their teammate(s). Joe Mixon is still in concussion protocol with a chance of getting cleared and I’m projecting him to be in. If he were to be ruled out, we will see Giovani Bernard vault up the rankings and would likely settle in at the middle of Tier 8 (with a bit of a boost in PPR).

Ameer Abdullah is set to return this week, but I doubt he assumes his typical role. It wasn’t too prominent to begin with, but I think with improved play from pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick and also Tion Green in his absence, this becomes an easy situation to ignore and leave for someone else to deal with.

Kareem Hunt came back to life in Week 14 with 138 total yards and a TD. This week he’s in a spot where the Chiefs will likely attack the Chargers on the ground (where they are more vulnerable compared to their stingy pass defense). As long as Jamaal Williams stays hot, it seems likely that Aaron Jones will be kept to a minor role. It’s important to note that from a skill perspective they are still fairly even, so this could easily turn back into a full RBBC any given week. Fighting for a playoff spot and having Aaron Rodgers return, though, makes me think they’ll just stick to what has been working lately. If you ended up adding Jamaal Williams a few weeks ago, congrats – I say you got yourself a waiver wire RB1 for the fantasy playoffs.

Tier 1 (FLEX Rating: 17.0)

Le’Veon Bell (vs NE)

Tier 2 (15.0)

Leonard Fournette (vs HOU)
Alvin Kamara (vs NYJ)
Todd Gurley (@ SEA)
Mark Ingram (vs NYJ)

Tier 3 (13.5)

LeSean McCoy (vs MIA)

Tier 4 (13.0)

Melvin Gordon (@ KC)

Tier 5 (12.5)

Kenyan Drake (@ BUF)
Devonta Freeman (-1, @ TB)
Kareem Hunt (vs LAC)

Tier 6 (12.0)

Jamaal Williams (@ CAR)
Jordan Howard (-2, @ DET)
Alex Collins (@ CLE)

Tier 7 (11.5)

Carlos Hyde (+1, vs TEN)
Samaje Perine (vs ARI)

Tier 8 (10.5)

Lamar Miller (@ JAX)
Rex Burkhead (@ PIT)
Marshawn Lynch (-1, vs DAL)
Mike Davis (vs LAR)
Latavius Murray (-1, vs CIN)

Tier 9 (9.5)

Frank Gore (vs DEN)
Alfred Morris (-1, @ OAK)
Christian McCaffrey (+3, vs GB)
Dion Lewis (@ PIT)
C.J. Anderson (@ IND)
Jay Ajayi (-1, @ NYG)
Jerick McKinnon (+1, vs CIN)
DeMarco Murray (@ SF)

Tier 10 (8.5)

Isaiah Crowell (vs BAL)
Theo Riddick (+1, vs CHI)
Kerwynn Williams (@ WAS)
Jonathan Stewart (-1, vs GB)
Joe Mixon (@ MIN)
Derrick Henry (-1, @ SF)
Tevin Coleman (@ TB)
Rod Smith (@ OAK)

Tier 11 (6.5)

Duke Johnson Jr. (+2, vs BAL)
Matt Forte (@ NO)
Bilal Powell (@ NO)
Orleans Darkwa (vs PHI)
Peyton Barber (-1, vs ATL)
Doug Martin (-1, vs ATL)
Austin Ekeler (@ KC)
Wayne Gallman (vs PHI)
Tarik Cohen (+1, @ DET)

Tier 12 (5.5)

Devontae Booker (@ IND)
LeGarrette Blount (-1, @ NYG)
Matt Breida (vs TEN)
Marlon Mack (vs DEN)
Ameer Abdullah (vs CHI)
Danny Woodhead (+1, @ CLE)
Javorius Allen (@ CLE)

Wide Receivers

One of the most interesting things for Week 15 from a projections stand point is how to handle the Green Bay WRs with Rodgers returning. Jordy Nelson went into hibernation with Brett Hundley under center, as Hundley seemingly only has eyes for Davante Adams. This shouldn’t be too surprising as Adams is the more physically talented WR in the prime of his career. I feel we have to trust the mind-meld between Rodgers/Nelson, which vaults Nelson into WR2 territory this week. With Rodgers likely a bit rusty in his return and a tough matchup against Minnesota next week, I’m afraid Nelson’s not going to be a WR1 during the fantasy playoffs. But people can dust him off and actually use him now at least.

Marquise Goodwin is having a late-blooming breakout season. Typically a vertical threat with Olympic speed, this year he has branched out into a much more diverse route tree and seems to be Garoppolo’s first read more times than not. The matchup against the Titans makes him a surprisingly high-floor WR2 to go along with his high ceiling, due to the fact he can score from anywhere on the field.

People may overreact to Josh McCown’s injury and how it specifically impacts the biggest surprise at WR this year, in Robby Anderson. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me reference Anderson as “my boy.” He was a WR I had mentioned as a great sleeper this year. I will admit, however, that I did not see this type of production coming out of him.

Having said all that, I appear to be ranking him much higher than most for Week 15, and it’s most likely due to me not downgrading him much with Petty under center. The potential matchup with Marshon Lattimore aside, it’s important to note that Petty and Anderson had a strong connection in four starts towards the end of the 2016 season. Anderson put up lines of 3/69/0, 4/61/1, 6/99/0, 4/80/1. It’s fair to say that chemistry likely won’t be an issue, and with the Jets likely playing catchup on the road verses the Saints, they will be forced to throw more than they would like with Petty.

Tier 1 (FLEX Rating: 13.5)

Antonio Brown (vs NE)

Tier 2 (11.5)

Julio Jones (@ TB)
Keenan Allen (@ KC)
Michael Thomas (vs NYJ)

Tier 3 (10.5)

Adam Thielen (vs CIN)
DeAndre Hopkins (@ JAX)
A.J. Green (@ MIN)

Tier 4 (10.0)

Devin Funchess (vs GB)
Brandin Cooks (-1, @ PIT)
Tyreek Hill (-1, vs LAC)
Dez Bryant (@ OAK)
Doug Baldwin (vs LAR)
Larry Fitzgerald (+1, @ WAS)

Tier 5 (9.0)

Michael Crabtree (vs DAL)
Davante Adams (@ CAR)
Jordy Nelson (@ CAR)
Marvin Jones Jr. (vs CHI)
Demaryius Thomas (@ IND)
Mike Evans (vs ATL)
Golden Tate (+1, vs CHI)
Marquise Goodwin (vs TEN)
Jarvis Landry (+1, @ BUF)
Josh Gordon (vs BAL)
Jamison Crowder (vs ARI)
Stefon Diggs (vs CIN)
Robby Anderson (@ NO)
Mohamed Sanu (@ TB)
Alshon Jeffery (@ NYG)
Juju Smith-Schuster (vs NE)

Tier 6 (7.5)

Marqise Lee (vs HOU)
T.Y. Hilton (vs DEN)
Cooper Kupp (+1, @ SEA)
Robert Woods (@ SEA)
Dede Westbrook (vs HOU)
Paul Richardson (vs LAR)
Sterling Shepard (vs PHI)
Mike Wallace (@ CLE)

Tier 7 (6.5)

Josh Doctson (vs ARI)
Chris Hogan (@ PIT)
Nelson Agholor (@ NYG)
Kenny Stills (@ BUF)
Rishard Matthews (@ SF)
Ted Ginn Jr. (vs NYJ)
Emmanuel Sanders (@ IND)
DeSean Jackson (vs ATL)
Jermaine Kearse (@ NO)
Jeremy Maclin (@ CLE)
Randall Cobb (@ CAR)
Sammy Watkins (@ SEA)
Kendall Wright (@ DET)
Corey Coleman (vs BAL)

Tier 8 (5.5)

Martavis Bryant (vs NE)
Kelvin Benjamin (vs MIA)
DeVante Parker (@ BUF)
Tyler Lockett (vs LAR)
Trent Taylor (vs TEN)
Albert Wilson (vs LAC)
Tyrell Williams (-1, @ KC)
Will Fuller V (@ JAX)
Torrey Smith (@ NYG)
Terrance Williams (@ OAK)
Dontrelle Inman (@ DET)
Danny Amendola (@ PIT)
Ryan Grant (vs ARI)
Chester Rogers (vs DEN)

Tight Ends

Gronk returns this week but has rare company in Tier 1 with Travis Kelcem who just missed out on a big score last week when ruled down at the 1-inch line on an overturned TD.

I typically get flack for having middle-of-the-pack accuracy at the TE position on Fantasy Pros (ranked No. 50 this year). I’m not pointing this out in order to make excuses, of course. I feel it’s worth pointing out, however, that it has a lot to do with the position being much more volatile (especially this year). The TE position itself doesn’t yield as much yardage. This is important because yardage totals are more predictive, so you are typically going to see more skill involved in “projecting” them. Touchdowns, on the other hand are less predictive, but more valuable.

A perfect example came last Sunday morning, when I saw just how bad the snow was in Buffalo. I gave massive downgrades across the board to each team’s passing game (none to the running game). This left me extremely low on Jack Doyle verses other experts. He ended up finishing with two receptions for four yards… and a TD. His fantasy score was saved by a 3-yard TD catch in the foot-high snow with one minute left in the game. He was quite close to finishing with 0.1 fantasy points that game.

This is all very important to keep in mind when it comes to deciding on TE. You really have to just stick with the guy who is going to see the most targets/usage and who is also at least part of the team’s plans in the red zone. I would caution to not just simply look at their past few games in order to spot a trend. This can cause an overreaction, which often times will backfire. Let my tiers below guide you through the TE mine field, and just keep in mind what it is that makes the position so volatile.

Tier 1 (FLEX Rating: 10.0)

Rob Gronkowski (@ PIT)
Travis Kelce (vs LAC)

Tier 2 (7.0)

Zach Ertz (@ NYG)
Delanie Walker (@ SF)
Jimmy Graham (vs LAR)
Evan Engram (vs PHI)
Hunter Henry (@ KC)

Tier 3 (6.5)

Kyle Rudolph (vs CIN)
Jack Doyle (+1, vs DEN)

Tier 4 (6.0)

Jared Cook (vs DAL)
Vernon Davis (vs ARI)
Jason Witten (@ OAK)
Greg Olsen (vs GB)

Tier 5 (5.0)

Eric Ebron (vs CHI)
Charles Clay (vs MIA)
Austin Hooper (@ TB)
Stephen Anderson (@ JAX)

Tier 6 (4.5)

Cameron Brate (vs ATL)
Ricky Seals-Jones (@ WAS)
O.J. Howard (vs ATL)
Jesse James (vs NE)
David Njoku (vs BAL)
Julius Thomas (@ BUF)
Benjamin Watson (@ CLE)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (@ NO)
Garrett Celek (vs TEN)

Kickers

I don’t always write a blurb on kickers, but when I do, it’s usually about Justin Tucker. He is literally the bane of my existence. Everything about my new-and-improved kickers model is on point this year, except for Tucker.

It’s important to note that I factor in everything for kickers. After all that goes into it – including the team’s offensive makeup, expected drives into scoring position, how many points they will score, and the weather – I still even have a “Tucker factor” where I just give him an even bigger boost (maybe 10 percent) on top of everything. I even have him maintaining a clearly unsustainable 90 percent make percentage. After all this, he is still rarely ranked too high, as it’s practically a miracle that the Ravens’ 27th-ranked offense (in terms of yardage) manages to drive the ball just far enough to stall in field goal range, seemingly every time. It’s led me to believe the Ravens offense is simply designed to win 21-0 every week off seven Tucker field goals.

I’m now introducing the Tucker Tier. If you own him or, for some reason, he is available, just plug him in no matter what. I will still rank him in the Tiers where he shows up in my model, just in case you wanted to see where he was in that.

Tucker Tier

Justin Tucker

Tier 1

Wil Lutz (vs NYJ)

Tier 2

Matt Bryant (@ TB)
Stephen Gostkowski (@ PIT)
Matt Prater (vs CHI)
Kai Forbath (vs CIN)

Tier 3

Josh Lambo (vs HOU)
Greg Zuerlein (@ SEA)
Justin Tucker (@ CLE)
Graham Gano (vs GB)
Dan Bailey (@ OAK)

Tier 4

Blair Walsh (vs LAR)
Nick Rose (vs ARI)
Robbie Gould (vs TEN)
Harrison Butker (vs LAC)
Stephen Hauschka (vs MIA)
Travis Coons (@ KC)
Jake Elliott (@ NYG)
Ryan Succop (@ SF)
Chris Boswell (vs NE)
Brandon McManus (@ IND)

Tier 5

Giorgio Tavecchio (vs DAL)
Adam Vinatieri (vs DEN)
Mason Crosby (@ CAR)
Patrick Murray (vs ATL)
Phil Dawson (@ WAS)
Mike Nugent (@ DET)
Cody Parkey (@ BUF)

Tier 6

Chandler Catanzaro (@ NO)
Aldrick Rosas (vs PHI)
Randy Bullock (@ MIN)
Zane Gonzalez (vs BAL)

Tier 7

Ka’imi Fairbairn (@ JAX)

Defenses

Tier 1

Jacksonville Jaguars (vs HOU)

Tier 2

Baltimore Ravens (@ CLE)

Tier 3

New Orleans Saints (vs NYJ)

Tier 4

Minnesota Vikings (vs CIN)
Philadelphia Eagles (@ NYG)

Tier 5

Washington Redskins (vs ARI)
Buffalo Bills (vs MIA)
Denver Broncos (@ IND)

Tier 6

Atlanta Falcons (@ TB)
Detroit Lions (vs CHI)
San Francisco 49ers (vs TEN)
Tennessee Titans (@ SF)
Indianapolis Colts (vs DEN)

Tier 7

Chicago Bears (@ DET)
Los Angeles Chargers (@ KC)
Los Angeles Rams (@ SEA)
Miami Dolphins (@ BUF)
Arizona Cardinals (@ WAS)
Seattle Seahawks (vs LAR)
New England Patriots (@ PIT)
Green Bay Packers (@ CAR)
Dallas Cowboys (@ OAK)
Carolina Panthers (vs GB)
Cleveland Browns (vs BAL)
Kansas City Chiefs (vs LAC)
New York Giants (vs PHI)
Houston Texans (@ JAX)

Tier 8

Oakland Raiders (vs DAL)
Cincinnati Bengals (@ MIN)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs ATL)
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs NE)

Tier 9

New York Jets (@ NO)