Kickoff: Sunday, December 20th at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Betting Odds: KC -3, 51.5 total via Oddsshark
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes (Start, QB1)
There’s something to be said about a guy who can throw three INTs in one game and STILL finish as a top-ten QB in fantasy for the week. That something might just be “MVP” again this season. We all know Patrick Mahomes is just ridiculous and he has a plethora of weapons that can make any defense look silly. Some think this could be a preview of Super Bowl 55 as the #1 seeds in their respective conferences face off. The Saints did just surrender 358 yards to a depleted Eagles team with a rookie QB making his first start, so things certainly seem to point to Mahomes finishing easily in the QB1 ranks and possibly the QB1 overall this week for fantasy managers. Don’t overthink it; start him.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Start, RB2), Le’Veon Bell (Sit)
After Week 1, fantasy managers who “stole” Clyde Edwards-Helaire in fantasy drafts looked like the smartest people in the room. Since that exciting debut, however, Edwards-Helaire has just been OK for fantasy purposes. Edwards-Helaire has eclipsed 100 total yards just twice and has found the end zone just four times since his Week 1 explosion and has seen his involvement in the offense decrease since the team signed Le’Veon Bell heading into Week 7. Edwards-Helaire is still on one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL but his production lags behind the RB1 pack and is best viewed as a solid RB2 with upside for fantasy managers in Week 15.
Speaking of Bell, he suffers from the same fate as Edwards-Helaire as they both steal opportunities from each other but Bell is seeing the lesser workload of the two. Since joining Kansas City, Bell has yet to surpass 55 total yards in a game and his only TD came back in Week 11. Bell still shows the patience and ability that made him a top pick while a member of the Steelers but the opportunities aren’t there to fully exploit them. As such, Bell is nothing more than insurance for fantasy managers with Edwards-Helaire on their rosters and should not be started in Week 15.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyreek Hill (Start, WR1), Sammy Watkins (Sit), Mecole Hardman/Demarcus Robinson (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
In researching this article, I was a bit surprised to see Tyreek Hill atop the leaderboard for total TDs with 16. Not as surprising is his place as the leader in yards per touch (14.4) and is the highest non-RB in total yards with 1,280 yards. But you didn’t need the numbers to know that the “Cheetah” is a weapon and is among the best fantasy WRs in the land. Fantasy managers with concerns Hill injured himself late in Week 14’s game as he looked to pull up lame a little late can rest assured as Ian Rapoport reported on Monday it was simply cramping. Fantasy managers can confidently fire up Hill as a WR1 in Week 15.
Since returning from a six-week absence in the middle of the season, Sammy Watkins has provided fantasy managers in PPR leagues with seven points in each of his last three games. Despite having arguably the #1 fantasy QB in Mahomes, once you get past Hill and Travis Kelce there just isn’t a lot of meat left on the bone. Watkins is on the field plenty, seeing at least 75% of the team’s snaps almost every week but the production just hasn’t followed. Watkins has had big games in the past, but as the end of the fantasy season approaches, most fantasy managers want a bit higher floor at the WR position which is why Watkins is not recommended this week.
The third WR position is generally a committee approach between Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson but both are minor contributors to the offense. Robinson has been the more productive of the two but he’s still been unable to top 50 yards or find the end zone in the last four weeks. Hardman provides some upside to fantasy managers in leagues that reward special teams TDs but otherwise, these two are not recommended in Week 15.
You remember all that good stuff I said about Hill in the first paragraph of this section? Yeah, well Kelce has surpassed Hill in almost every statistical category other than TDs…as a TE! Kelce has been a monster again this season, leading the team in targets (120), receptions (90), and receiving yards (1,250) and is behind only Hill with nine TDs. Kelce is almost a cheat code at TE this season as he is putting up numbers that rival the top-tier WRs and is an auto-start any week he’s playing. Just like Mahomes, don’t overthink it; start him.
New Orleans Saints
Taysom Hill (Start, QB2 with QB1 upside)
Before Drew Brees suffered his most recent injury, fantasy managers thought the best case for Taysom Hill as a fantasy asset would be a player who could provide RB-like rushing statistics with some passing upside. What has been proven over the last few weeks, however, is that Hill is a capable passing QB with rushing upside. In the three games in which Hill has been tasked with throwing 20+ times, he has completed more than 73% of his passes and has two passing TDs in each of the last two games. Hill still is a rushing threat although last week the game script forced the team into a more pass-heavy approach. Vegas is expecting a Kansas City victory which may lead to another game with a higher-than-normal pass percentage which is why Hill projects as a QB2 this week. If Hill can utilize his running ability, he could sneak into the low-end QB1 conversation.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1), Latavius Murray (Sit)
There was some legitimate concern that Brees’s injury torpedoed a good portion of Alvin Kamara’s production as his targets bottomed out with Hill at QB in Weeks 11, 12, and 13. The presence of Hill was already a little worrisome as it was expected he’d steal some carries from Kamara but the lack of involvement in the passing game was quite surprising. Fortunately for fantasy managers, things look to have gotten back on track last week as Kamara saw 10 targets, converting seven for 44 yards. Kansas City is also among the worst rush defenses in the NFL, allowing 126 yards per game. If last week’s production in the passing is a harbinger of the future, fantasy managers can easily expect an RB1 performance from Kamara. If his passing game production dips again, he should be a solid RB2 with RB1 upside in Week 15.
Latavius Murray is a much better NFL RB than fantasy RB as his fantasy value is tied directly to the health of the player in front of him. Fantasy managers got a nice surprise if they started Murray in the blowout victory over Denver in Week 12 but Murray has otherwise been borderline unstartable in any format. Murray doesn’t see enough opportunities to be trusted this late in the season and should remain on the benches of fantasy managers this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (Start, WR2), Tre’Quan Smith (Sit), Emmanuel Sanders (Sit), Jared Cook (Sit)
It’s hard to imagine that with many fantasy leagues in the midst of their playoffs that the slam-dunk #1 WR at the start of the season would be a WR2 recommendation, but here we are. The change at QB from Brees to Hill is a bit of a downgrade for all the Saints WRs but Thomas looks to be the least impacted. In the four games with Hill as the starter, Thomas is averaging nine targets per game which is only slightly lower than the 11 per game he averaged in 2019. Thomas has yet to find the end zone this season, but that could change this week in a game that looks like the Saints will have to try and keep pace offensively. Thomas should easily finish as a WR2 this week and could sneak into the bottom of the WR1 tier if he ends his TD drought.
Because of the decreased passing volume with Hill at QB, no other Saints receiving option can be trusted as a starting option this week. Even in the last two games in which Hill was tasked with throwing 35+ passes, no player other than Thomas and Kamara exceeded six targets in either game. Fantasy managers would be wise to sit all of Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, and Jared Cook in Week 15. If I were forced to choose one, only Cook has the upside to make it as a potential flex option as a TE2.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)