Fantasy Football Week 15: Big Board and Advice for 'Monday Night Football'

Richard Janvrin@@RichardJanvrinFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2015

Fantasy Football Week 15: Big Board and Advice for 'Monday Night Football'

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    What a game to close out the fantasy football semifinals—the Detroit Lions at the New Orleans Saints.

    This game has the makings of another NFL shootout. Whenever the word "shootout" is uttered, that usually means fantasy points galore.

    As you may know, the Saints are by far one of, if not the worst defense in all of the NFL this season, allowing 36 passing touchdowns on the year.

    While both teams are out of playoff contention, never discount the idea of playing for pride.

    To this point in Week 15, we've seen a total of 12 teams score 30 or more points. Both of these teams should reach the 30s Monday night.

    Odds Shark has the Saints as a 2.5-point home favorite.

    I'm taking the Lions, 34-31. 

Big Board

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    Here's the Monday night big board:

    1Golden TateWRDetroit Lions 
    2 Brandin CooksWRNew Orleans Saints
    3Matthew StaffordQBDetroit Lions
    4Drew BreesQBNew Orleans Saints
    5Calvin JohnsonWRDetroit Lions
    6Theo Riddick RBDetroit Lions
    7Willie SneadWRNew Orleans Saints
    8Tim Hightower RBNew Orleans Saints
    9Eric Ebron TEDetroit Lions
    10Benjamin WatsonTENew Orleans Saints

Injury Report

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions

    • Eric Ebron, TE, Questionable (Illness)
    • Lance Moore, WR, Probable (Ankle)
    • Calvin Johnson, WR, Questionable (Ankle)

    New Orleans Saints

    No injuries

    Injury reports courtesy of


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    Tom Gannam/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford

    OK, where to begin.

    First things first—the New Orleans Saints are bad.

    Bad to the point where the Saints have allowed 18 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks nine times this season. Additionally, the Saints have given up multiple touchdowns in all but three games this season.

    As far as quarterback Matthew Stafford is concerned, he was the QB13 heading into Week 15.

    However, in games where Stafford has 40 or more attempts, he has averaged over 300 yards passing. The Saints have allowed eight quarterbacks to throw for 300 or more yards this season.

    This game is going to be nuts, and Stafford should throw a ton, rack up some yardage and throw multiple touchdowns.

    Projections: 330 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT

    New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees

    Over his last six games, Saints quarterback Drew Brees has thrown two or more touchdowns five times.

    As mentioned above, this game should be a shootout. The last time Brees was in a shootout, he threw for seven touchdowns.

    I'm not saying he'll throw seven again, but he should throw a few.

    Projections: 300 passing yards, 3 TDs

Running Backs

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions: Theo Riddick

    With the Lions struggling to run the ball (just three rushing touchdowns from the position this year), the running back who plays the most snaps is utilized more as a pass-catcher.

    On the season, Lions running back Theo Riddick has received five or more targets 10 times, and has seen that many for the last four games in a row.

    Here is another crazy stat: Riddick has 67 receptions on 79 targets. That is more receptions than Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker heading into Week 15.

    Lastly, the Saints have given up five receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs, which is tied for the most in the league.

    Projections: 20 rushing yards; 6 receptions, 65 receiving yards, 1 TD

    New Orleans Saints: Tim Hightower

    In his first start after fellow Saints running back Mark Ingram was placed on injured reserve, Tim Hightower carried the ball 28 times in Week 14.

    In his second start, Hightower gets a plus matchup against the Lions, who have surrendered 14 rushing touchdowns on the season.

    Projections: 80 rushing yards, 1 TD

Wide Receivers

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson

    Believe it or not, Calvin Johnson is not my favorite Lions wide receiver in this game.

    Over the course of the season, the Saints have given up an approximate average of five receptions for 82 yards and less than a touchdown on eight targets to opposing teams' No. 1 wide receivers (in terms of snaps that week).

    On the season, Johnson has seen double-digit targets four times, has four total touchdowns in those games and eclipsed 100 yards just once.

    Also of note, in games in which Johnson has gone up against a top-15 cornerback (according to Pro Football Focus), he has averaged approximately five receptions, 54 yards and zero touchdowns on eight targets.

    Heading into this game, Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux is the 12th-ranked cornerback.

    Due to the anticipated shootout, Johnson should find the end zone, but he's still not my favorite Lions wide receiver this week, especially when you factor in the ankle injury he's been dealing with.

    Projections: 8 receptions, 85 receiving yards, 1 TD

    Detroit Lions: Golden Tate

    Here he is—my favorite Lions wide receiver this week.

    Among the 21 receiving touchdowns the Saints have allowed to opposing wide receivers this season, nine of them have come from the slot receiver.

    Heading into Week 15, Lions wide receiver Golden Tate was seventh in the league in routes ran out of the slot, and third in the league in total routes ran.

    Also, among the defensive backs that have played 100 or more snaps covering the slot for the Saints, they have surrendered an average completion percentage of 72 percent.

    Although this projection may be aggressive, Tate is in the line for a big game.

    Projections: 10 receptions, 125 receiving yards, 2 TDs

    New Orleans Saints: Brandin Cooks

    Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been on a hot streak lately.

    Over his past six games, Cooks has caught seven touchdowns, and he is also averaging over seven targets per game over the last three contests.

    Cooks could have his work cut out for him if he sees a lot of Lions cornerback Darius Slay, but all bets are off in this game.

    Projections: 7 receptions, 80 receiving yards, 2 TDs

    New Orleans Saints: Willie Snead

    In the two games since he did not record a catch in Week 12, Saints wide receiver Willie Snead has combined for 11 receptions and 172 receiving yards.

    Although he hasn't found the end zone in the last two games, he did go over 100 yards in one of those.

    Snead will look to add to already stellar campaign in Week 15.

    Projections: 5 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 TD

Tight Ends

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron

    Coming into this game questionable to play due to illness, Lions tight end Eric Ebron draws a matchup made in heaven if he suits up.

    To this point in the season, the Saints have given up over 1,000 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in total.

    Additionally, the Saints have also given up 81 receptions to opposing tight ends, which is tied for the most in the league.

    However, Ebron has not eclipsed 30 receiving yards since Week 7 and has scored just one touchdown since then.

    Projections: 5 receptions, 55 receiving yards

    New Orleans Saints: Benjamin Watson

    In what has been a random breakout season, Saints tight end Benjamin Watson has been a steady option this year.

    Over his last three games, Watson is averaging five receptions for close to 54 yards on eight targets—paving the way to a TE9 ranking in that span.

    Projections: 4 receptions, 50 receiving yards

Defense/Special Teams

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions Defense/Special Teams

    The Lions are the 26th-ranked fantasy unit on the defensive side of the ball.

    In what will likely be a shootout, they are not an option.

    Projections: 31 points allowed, 3 sacks

    New Orleans Saints Defense/Special Teams

    I would not start the Saints defense in a 33-team league, if that tells you anything.

    Projections: 34 points allowed, 1 INT, 2 sacks

Best Sleeper Add

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Lance Moore, WR, Detroit Lions (Owned in 2.1 percent of ESPN Leagues)

    In a game that could very well exceed the score predicted in this column, we could see some different players score a touchdown.

    With four touchdowns on the year, and clearly being the Detroit Lions No. 3 wide receiver, Lance Moore could steal a touchdown.

Start or Sit?

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    Due to the projected shootout nature of this game, you should feel confident in starting everyone mentioned in this column.

    All advanced stats courtesy of Pro Football FocusAll fantasy numbers courtesy of

    Follow me on Twitter @RichardJanvrin.