Welcome to Week 15! In the immortal words of Jim Mora, “Playoffs, you kidding me?! Playoffs??? We’re just trying to win a game!”
Whether it’s trying to ensure total domination, continuing to build momentum from barely sliding into the last playoff spot, or just trying to avoid a last place punishment, let’s scour the waiver wire and see what we have to work with. Last week, the game plan to focus on teams facing off against an opponent from New York backfired spectacularly. It turns out that Zach Wilson is most dangerous when he hits rock bottom, and seeing this guy on the opposing sideline can be pretty intimidating. Now that we’ve got those pleasantries out of the way, it’s time to get down to business for Week 15; let’s see if we can get some defenses that are rostered in around 50 percent of leagues or fewer.
Please note: there’s a decent chance that better teams above this 50 percent threshold are out there in your league, but we can’t assume they’re out there for everyone. We have to draw the proverbial line somewhere, so stay active and monitor the league home page; someone might drop a desirable defense after waivers clear.
Opponent: @ Carolina Panthers
ESPN % Rostered: 50%
Yahoo % Rostered: 33%
Carolina has had one game all season where they gave up fewer than seven fantasy points to opposing defenses. They’ve surrendered double-digit fantasy points in four of their last six games so this seems to be one of the safer bets as Atlanta competes for first place in the NFC South against their division rival. The Panthers are on a three-game streak of allowing four or more sacks per week; they are averaging at least one turnover per game since their bye seven weeks ago. The Falcons boast a Top 10 defense in passing yards allowed per game and square off against the Panthers, who own the league’ second-lowest passing yards per game average. Atlanta also ranks in the Top 10 in both QB hurry rate and knockdown percentage. They’ll look to pressure Bryce Young in an effort to repeat their double-digit fantasy performance against the Panthers in Week 1, when they generated three turnovers.
Las Vegas Raiders
Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
ESPN % Rostered: 13%
Yahoo % Rostered: 8%
Coming off their bye last week, the Las Vegas Raiders held the Minnesota Vikings to three points. The Raiders, who tallied five sacks last week, boast an impressive pass rush led by Maxx Crosby; only Khalil Mack and T.J. Watt have more sacks through the first 14 weeks of the NFL season. Next on the menu are the slumping Los Angeles Chargers, who are now forced to start Easton Stick at quarterback. In addition, they’ve got the hottest coaching seat in the NFL as the season winds down. Los Angeles gave up six sacks and two turnovers to the division-rival Denver Broncos last week and now travels to Las Vegas, where the Raiders managed two sacks and a turnover in Week 4 against the Chargers. They held Herbert to less than 200 yards passing on just 13 completions in that game.
Opponent: vs. Houston Texans
ESPN % Rostered: 5%
Yahoo % Rostered: 6%
Don’t look now, but the Tennessee Titans have strung together three solid D/ST performances in a row including their last game on the road against a powerful Miami Dolphins offense. Now they come back home to host the Houston Texans and their impressive collection of questionable tags on offense: C.J. Stroud starts the week in concussion protocol, Nico Collins re-injured his calf, and Dalton Schultz has yet to play a game for Houston in December. One definitive is that they will not have Tank Dell in this matchup; he is out for the remainder of the season. Tennessee has 12 sacks in their last three weeks and forced at least one fumble in each of those games. So if Houston is forced to roll out Davis Mills and the B Team on offense for this game, I love the Titans at home. Also of note: Derrick Henry’s absolute ownership of the Texans since 2019; if this trend continues, it will lead to a very lopsided time of possession battle.
If you see something I don’t leave a comment or hit me up with feedback @MikeoftheFF on Twitter!
Photos by Zach Bolinger & Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)