Fantasy semifinals in Week 15 give greater consequence to unexpected breakouts and duds from stars — win and you’re playing for a title Rashard Higgins Jersey Stitched , lose and it’s on to 2019.Playing games in mid-December also assures that weather will be a factor for some players in a week where matchups favor quarterbacks. Bad weather brings the potential of heavy workloads for several running backs.START: Jared Goff, QB, Rams: Expect a major reversal of Sunday night fortunes for Goff, who gets an Eagles defense that ranks 30th in net passing yards allowed. After throwing four interceptions in last Sunday’s loss at the Bears, Goff will carry many fantasy teams into Week 16 at the expense of Philly’s secondary, which gave up 455 yards to Dak Prescott in the overtime loss at the Cowboys.SIT: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Held to under 200 passing yards in three of his last five games, Rodgers must contend with a stifling Bears defense that is third in the league in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Rodgers has just one interception this season, but that could easily change against Chicago, which leads the league with 25 interceptions. Fantasy owners who desire to play a meaningful game next week will help their chances by keeping Rodgers benched.START: Doug Martin, RB, Raiders: While his overall numbers are underwhelming, Martin has scored in each of his past three games and is being fed into the buffet that is the Bengals, who are last in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. Martin has averaged 18 touches per game in the last two weeks and with the temperature expected to be in the upper-30s on Sunday, he should be able to get a steady dose of carries. He’s a good RB2/flex option whose value will be stronger in non-PPR formats.SIT: Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos: A huge flop in Week 14, Sutton caught two passes for 14 yards against a weak 49ers pass defense. With Emmanuel Sanders out for the rest of the season, the opportunity for Sutton to assert himself as the team’s featured receiver is still there, but he’s also failed to record more than six targets in all but one game since Denver traded Demaryius Thomas last month. The Browns are 30th in receiving yards allowed yet plugging Sutton into the lineup is a risk not worth taking.START: Josh Reynolds, WR Youth Briean Boddy-Calhoun Jersey , Rams: Only the Saints allow more fantasy points per game to opposing receivers than the Eagles, which makes Reynolds a great play despite his recent skid. Reynolds has just 55 receiving yards in his last two games but is a must-start against Philadelphia, which is also 31st in receiving yards allowed. Robert Woods will get the bulk of the targets from Goff, yet there will be more than enough opportunities for Reynolds to justify his solid WR2 status.SIT: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Although he scored last week, Mack managed just 33 yards on 14 carries against the Texans and faces stiffer competition in the form of a Cowboys defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown in their last five games, while not conceding more than 70 yards to a running back in the same span. Mack is far removed from the midseason spurt that vaulted him into RB2 territory and is now more of a last-ditch option whose value declines considerably in PPR formats.START: Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns: While the Broncos’ pass rush can make life miserable for quarterbacks (40 sacks, tied for fourth), they’re also 26th in net passing yards allowed, numbers that play well for Mayfield, who has completed better than 70 percent of his passes in three of his last four games. Denver has allowed an average of 324.5 yards and two touchdown passes in its last six. With Mayfield making a concerted effort to get Jarvis Landry involved, the formula is there for Mayfield to be a sneaky good fantasy option for a team whose normal starter may have an unappealing matchup.SIT: Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: Despite three touchdowns in the last three games, Brate is too red zone dependent to roll the dice on at this late a juncture. The Ravens are third in fewest receiving yards allowed and with Brate a non-factor between the 20s, fantasy owners are best off looking for better streamers at the position.START: D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers: The rookie hasn’t pulled in a touchdown pass in his last three games, but Moore has at least eight targets in each of his last four. In what could be an elimination game for Carolina Briean Boddy-Calhoun Jersey Stitched , look for Cam Newton to call upon Moore frequently against a Saints defense that has given up the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Moore also averages 12.5 yards per carry and will be good for a jet sweep or two as well.SIT: Robert Foster, WR, Bills: He’s become an intriguing fantasy option, having caught 13 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown in his last four games while becoming the deep-ball wideout of choice for Josh Allen. Foster sets up to be the type of fantasy player who comes out of nowhere to produce big numbers, but Buffalo faces a Detroit defense that is 12th in receiving yards allowed. Deep leaguers can take the risk, but Foster is too much of a penthouse/outhouse proposition for those in more standard leagues.START: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals: It’s been more than a month since Johnson scored, but the Falcons and their 26th ranked run defense means taking the plunge on the disappointing Redbird back.SIT: Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Eagles: Yes, Jeffery scored last week, but still hasn’t exceeded better than 50 receiving yards since Week 8. With the Eagles committed to getting rookie TE Dallas Goedert into the flow of the offense, the targets will continue to come in a light drizzle for Jeffery. Tonight, the Cleveland Browns are on the road to take on the Denver Broncos. To help preview a few topics from the Broncos’ perspective, we reached out to Casey Barrett from Mile High Report and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!Case Keenum has been very ‘meh’ for the Denver Broncos.Stan Szeto-USA TODAY SportsChris: “Case Keenum threw at least 1 interception in his first 8 games, but hasn’t thrown a single interception in his past 5 games. Has something improved for Keenum as of later, and how would you assess his overall play as a Bronco?”Casey: “Well, I don’t believe Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has been the hope that Broncos Country was expecting. In the most recent weeks, he certainly has been smarter with the ball, even when running for his life. He has been much, MUCH better at getting rid of the ball in potential sack situations. He’s also moved himself out of danger on more than one occasion. This is something we didn’t see much of in the first half of the season. For unexplained reasons Browns Odell Beckham Jersey , every Broncos quarterback since Peyton Manning has had this behavior that if there is a hand on them, they take the sack.It’s been infuriating. This was also something we saw from Keenum in the early stages of this year, but has shown large improvements recently. This has been a topic of conversation in multiple weeks; why does he look so much different this year than last year with Minnesota? Truth is, most of us don’t know. In training camp and in practice, he has a level of confidence and leadership that for me personally, I haven’t seen much of in game situations. There have been flashes, and they seem to be more apparent in the more recent games, but he still hasn’t reached that level that we saw last year with the Vikings. I’m not ready to give up on him yet, but he needs to find that comfortable, high confidence level of play.”The Broncos defense misses CB Chris Harris.Photo by Bart Young/Getty ImagesChris: “Denver’s defense seems to excel where it matters: sacks, interceptions, and points allowed per game. But it seems like they are a bit banged up in the secondary -- could you tell us what to expect from that unit this week, specifically at cornerback?”Casey: “Nope. I can’t tell you what to expect; I’m not sure any of us can know what to expect. It has been a very up and down season for the Broncos secondary. Losing Chris Harris Jr. was huge. Not just in coverage, but his mind and his leadership on the field is desperately missed. The amount of field that CHJ can cover is ridiculous, and it showed in a big way last week against the Chefs... cough... I mean the Chiefs (couldn’t help it). Bradley Roby is a question mark every game. There have been games where he has made some outstanding plays, and there have been games where he got burned... bad. Now with rookie Isaac Yiadom out as well, nine year vet Tramaine Brock, and second year player Brendan Langley will definitely have their work cut out for them.”The Broncos have had issues covering tight ends.Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty ImagesChris: “How the heck did George Kittle have such a big first half last week? Was that an anomaly, or did it expose some issues that Denver has defensively?”Casey: “It is absolutely an issue defensively. For some lost-on-me reason, the Broncos cannot cover a TE. What we saw last week was the Kansas City Chiefs and their coaching staff following suit of most teams this season. They just happened to exploit that weakness to its full effect, and found ways for not only for Kittle to get open, but to be able to maximize the yards after the catch. It has been frustrating watching TEs get that open. I’m hoping that Broncos Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods has a plan for slowing the bleeding when it comes to finding a way to cover them Odell Beckham Jersey 2019 , but what will the Broncos defense have to sacrifice in order to make that happen? I guess we’ll find out this week when they have to cover David Njoku.”Bradley Chubb and Von Miller make for a dangerous pass-rushing duo.Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesChris: “What is the strength and weakness of the Browns’ offensive line? [Editor’s note: I screwed up and put Browns in this question instead of Broncos]”Casey: “I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on what the Browns do week in and week out, but from a layman’s perspective, they seem to be finding ways to work as a unit more consistently. What they did against the Texans two weeks ago was impressive. Even though they lost and turned the ball over - a lot - they kept Mayfield from taking any serious shots. They are completely capable of maintaining that level of play. That’s from what I have seen. Now, that being said, the Browns are guilty of a lot of offensive holding calls. This could pose to be problematic going against Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb. They have combined for 25.5 sacks and their speed off the end is hard to counter. While there was plenty of coverage regarding Miller’s offsides penalties from last week, he has also had his fair share of getting guys to jump early, especially in the Broncos Stadium at Mile High noise. I for one, am very curious to know how the Browns plan to block both ends, and equally as curious to see if the Broncos make any adjustments if the Browns are successful in their blocking scheme.”Safety Justin Simmons has stepped up in the Broncos’ secondary.Photo by Bart Young/Getty ImagesChris: “Tell us about one player on the Broncos who has played a nice role this year, but who Browns fans may not have heard of.”Casey: “That’s a good question. The Broncos, like the Browns and a lot of teams this year, have had to deal with injuries in key positions and even their second string positions. With the Broncos, they have had consistent inconsistency. Rookie Josey Jewell has shown that he can be really good, but he has also shown that he is still a rookie and has things to learn. The same could be said for Su’a Cravens. He’s made some outstanding plays, showing his good athleticism, but again has shown that there are still things to learn. I’ll try to give you two players to watch though. Safety Justin Simmons has filled in the leadership role with Chris Harris Jr currently out. He has made a couple of mistakes, but his vision on the field has improved a ton over the course of his young three year career. I feel like he’s only going to get better, especially learning from CHJ. The other that has made great positive strides throughout the season is NT Shelby Harris. Every game he seems to be playing better. He is figuring out how to read offensive plays more quickly, with an INT two weeks ago, and had another in his hands last week, but it was dropped. Watching him and Domata Peko Sr. rotate at nose tackle has been fun.”Thanks again to Casey for taking the time to answer my questions.
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