NFL Predictions Week 15: Final Odds, Projections and Fantasy Stars to Watch

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2014

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) drops back to pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Bill Feig/Associated Press

It is not often that fantasy and reality align, but the playoffs are on the line in both realms in Week 15 of the NFL season.

The actual standings will be impacted by critical showdowns between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, among others, while fantasy playoffs across the country depend on the performances of the respective superstars in Week 15.

With that in mind, here is a look at the schedule, odds, predictions against the spread and fantasy stars to watch for in the Week 15 slate. Point spreads are courtesy of Odds Shark, as of Friday at 12 p.m. ET.

NFL Week 15 Spreads, Picks and Fantasy Stars
MatchupSpreadPick ATSFantasy Star
Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta FalconsPIT -1FalconsJulio Jones
Washington at New York GiantsNYG -7.5GiantsEli Manning
Miami Dolphins at New England PatriotsNE -9PatriotsRob Gronkowski
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City ChiefsKC -11.5ChiefsJamaal Charles
Houston Texans at Indianapolis ColtsIND -7.5ColtsT.Y. Hilton
Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore RavensBAL -15.5JaguarsJustin Forsett
Green Bay Packers at Buffalo BillsGB -4.5PackersAaron Rodgers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina PanthersCAR -3PanthersJonathan Stewart
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland BrownsEVENBengalsA.J. Green
New York Jets at Tennessee TitansNYJ -2.5JetsGeno Smith
Denver Broncos at San Diego ChargersDEN -4BroncosDemaryius Thomas
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit LionsDET -8.5LionsCalvin Johnson
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle SeahawksSEA -10.5SeahawksSeahawks defense
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia EaglesPHI -3EaglesLeSean McCoy
New Orleans Saints at Chicago BearsNO -3SaintsDrew Brees

Fantasy Stars

QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Bill Haber/Associated Press

Despite a disappointing 5-8 record, the New Orleans Saints are still third in the NFL in passing yards per game and should shred a struggling Chicago Bears defense behind Drew Brees’ arm.

The Bears are dead last in the NFL in scoring defense, are allowing 29.1 points per game and have given up a combined 75 points in their last two contests.

To make matters worse, Chicago is 30th in the league against the pass, and Brees has thrown for at least 235 yards in every single game this season and topped 300 yards six times and 400 yards once.

While Jimmy Graham’s decline the last four weeks (yardage totals of 25, zero, 47 and 29) is somewhat concerning for those relying on Brees in fantasy football, the Saints quarterback has involved other receivers in that span, such as Kenny Stills.

Graham is a proven superstar and capable of going off at any time and may reward fantasy owners against the vulnerable Bears secondary, but it is Brees who should have the monster day. 

There is also shootout potential in this game, which is always music to the ears of fantasy owners for quarterbacks. The Saints have allowed at least 27 points in each of their last five games and are second-worst in the league in yards allowed per game (398.7).

Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte should put up some points against New Orleans, and Brees will be forced to respond. 

He certainly will deliver.

RB Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 07:  Running back Justin Forsett #29 of the Baltimore Ravens runs for fourth quarter yardage against the Miami Dolphins during a game at Sun Life Stadium on December 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Ravens defeated the D
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Michael Fabiano of NFL.com believes Justin Forsett is a must-start in fantasy for Week 15:

The top waiver-wire pickup of the season, Forsett has scored no fewer than 10.5 fantasy points in each of his last six games. He should continue his streak of success against the Jaguars, who have been generous to running backs. In fact, no team has surrendered more fantasy points to home runners this season than Jacksonville.

Forsett has been one of the best backs in the league down the stretch of the season and likely won’t slow down against the abysmal Jacksonville Jaguars. In his last four games, he has tallied 471 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

The Ravens are fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game behind a powerful offensive line and should carve up a Jacksonville front that is 28th in the league against the run.

What’s more, the Ravens should establish a lead early in this contest against the 2-11 Jaguars, especially since the game is in Baltimore. The Ravens will then look to run the ball even more with a lead and keep the clock running, which will result in more touches, yards and a couple of touchdowns for Forsett. 

Continue to ride Forsett’s hot hand into the playoffs.

WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 07:  T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates his game winning touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 7, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Indianapolis won the game 2
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

T.Y. Hilton loves playing against the Houston Texans.

In five career games against the division foe, Hilton is averaging better than 120 yards per contest and has six touchdowns. Throw in his 223-yard performance against Houston earlier this season, and there is reason to expect big things yet again.

Houston cornerback Kareem Jackson discussed Hilton’s greatness, via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:

He’s fast and explosive. They use him in a lot of different spots, in a lot of different formations and get him the ball. A guy like that, you have to account for him every play.

He’s very good at changing his pace (on) his routes. He can come off jogging, and he can explode and go for 60 yards at the drop of a hat. He does a great job with yards after the catch, so we have to prevent him from catching the ball, but if he does, we have to tackle him.

On paper, this is a dream matchup for fantasy owners. The Colts are No. 1 in the league in passing yards per game, and Hilton is Andrew Luck’s clear-cut top option.

The opposing Texans are horrible against the pass and rank 28th in the league in yards allowed per game through the air. Indianapolis undoubtedly knows this and will attack the vulnerable secondary from the opening drive.

David Richard/Associated Press

Even when the Colts offense struggled in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns, Hilton racked up 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

He is Luck’s security blanket when the Colts need a big play, and time will be limited in the pocket with J.J. Watt attacking the Indianapolis quarterback. That means Luck will look toward his No. 1 option on plenty of passing plays, because he won’t have as much time to go through his progressions. 

The result will be another huge day for No. 13 against the Texans.

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