Fantasy Football Busts to Avoid in Week 15

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Fantasy Football Busts to Avoid in Week 15

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    In the next couple of weeks, many fantasy football managers will overanalyze their starting lineups in an attempt to outscore their opponents for a league title.

    During the season, it's easier to stomach a bad decision to bench someone who eventually goes off for big numbers, but the playoffs leave no margin for error.

    Typically, the safe approach is the best method. You can plug in the same players who helped you qualify for the postseason. 

    On the flip side, conventional wisdom will lead some owners in another direction. When a top running back goes against one of the best run defenses in the league, he may be better off on the bench.

    Although it's not ideal to bench consistent starters, another option can give you an edge. Instead of suggesting six must-add pickups for Week 15, we'll go over potential busts—also commonly known as the fantasy football hate list. 

    Each player has a projected stat line, which gives managers an idea of what to expect and a chance to translate the forecast into their leagues' scoring formats (point-per-reception or non-PPR).

          

QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Since Week 8, Aaron Rodgers has posted pedestrian numbers, throwing for multiple touchdowns once over the last five outings. He's also accumulated fewer than 250 yards in each game during that span as the Green Bay Packers passing offense continues to work through rough patches under first-time head coach Matt LaFleur. The unit has eclipsed 277 yards in only two contests. 

    Next Sunday, the Packers will be facing the Chicago Bears, who rank fourth in passing touchdowns allowed. That doesn't bode well for Rodgers.

    In Week 14, on a short break for Thursday Night Football, the Bears surrendered a season-high 326 passing yards to the Dallas Cowboys. Now, with extra time to prepare for a division rival that's not flush with receiving weapons behind wideout Davante Adams, Chicago should be able to limit the aerial attack.

    As usual, Rodgers won't hurt his fantasy numbers with interceptions. He's only thrown two all season. However, the 36-year-old will probably have another lackluster performance against a defense that's stingy with touchdowns.

    Projected Stat Line: 220 passing yards, one touchdown

RB Mark Ingram II, Baltimore Ravens

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    The New York Jets aren't likely to shut down the Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked scoring offense, but their defense is capable of slowing down the rushing attack. Quarterback Lamar Jackson may have to shoulder the load Thursday. 

    The Jets have allowed a league-low three yards per carry, and prior to last week's game against the Miami Dolphins, they hadn't allowed more than 68 yards in five straight matchups.

    Baltimore has a three-man rotation that includes Jackson, who's eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Mark Ingram II leads the team in carries (181), and Gus Edwards chips in with 7.3 carries per outing. 

    Ingram didn't top 60 rushing yards in either of the last two contests. He faced the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, and those teams rank 22nd and 14th against the run, respectively.

    Furthermore, the ninth-year veteran logged a combined five catches for 32 yards over the last two games, which isn't appealing for PPR league owners.

    When Ingram went against average run defenses, his production didn't jump off the screen, so we shouldn't expect much from him against a unit that allows the second-fewest yards per contest.

    Projected Stat Line: 61 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards 

RB Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Running back Matt Breida's return from an ankle injury directly impacts Tevin Coleman's fantasy outlook. In Week 14, the latter logged just three carries for six yards in a crowded backfield.

    Before Breida went down with an injury in Week 10, he led the 49ers in rushing attempts (109) and yards (542). In his first game back, he broke off a 28-yard run, which is a good sign after an extended absence.

    Head coach Kyle Shanahan runs an effective ground attack that's featured three running backs for most of the season. Raheem Mostert had the hot hand Sunday, logging 109 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage.

    Shanahan could roll with any of those three tailbacks, with Jeff Wilson Jr. capable of handling a few touches in spot duty. 

    Fantasy managers should rely on players with predictable workloads in the postseason. Coleman's volume fluctuates week-to-week, which makes him a risky option. 

    Projected Stat Line: 45 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards

WR Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    Amari Cooper's numbers look impressive, but when you dig deeper, he's more inconsistent than one would assume.

    The 25-year-old wide receiver has recorded 70 receptions for 1,054 yards and eight touchdowns, but the bulk of his output came against subpar pass defenses, including the New York Giants (25th), Packers (21st), Philadelphia Eagles (17th) and Minnesota Vikings (16th).

    Cooper finished with fewer than 50 receiving yards in five contests. In Week 12, the New England Patriots left him without a catch. Furthermore, over the last four games, he's scored just one touchdown.

    Next week, Cooper will likely line up across from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who's a tough matchup for the best wideouts in coverage.

    The Cowboys' lead pass-catcher is dealing with a knee injury, which may explain some of his recent off days, and he may see few bright spots against a 10th-ranked pass defense that held Seattle Seahawks receivers scoreless Sunday.

    Projected Stat Line: four catches, 47 receiving yards

WR Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Quarterback Kyler Murray and wideout Christian Kirk have developed a decent rapport, but Larry Fitzgerald leads the Arizona Cardinals in receptions (64) and receiving yards (669).

    Kirk missed three contests with an ankle injury, which put a temporary halt on his growing connection with Murray. The second-year wide receiver had one standout showing, torching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for six catches, 138 yards and three touchdowns, but that's the only game he's reached pay dirt. 

    Though Kirk has two 100-yard performances under his belt, his inability to find the end zone keeps him out of consideration for a starting spot in a high-stakes playoff matchup.

    At 6-7, the Cleveland Browns have been a disappointment, but they're eighth in pass defense, holding three of their last four opponents to fewer than 200 yards. 

    In Week 14, Andy Dalton threw for 262 yards against the Browns, but he didn't log a score. Owners should be able to find a much better option than Kirk this week.

    Projected Stat Line: three catches, 54 receiving yards

WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    With Dalton under center, Tyler Boyd should be locked into the WR2 spot—except this week. The Cincinnati Bengals will host the New England Patriots, who field the No. 2 pass defense and have allowed a league-low nine touchdowns through the air. 

    In addition, Dalton hasn't thrown for multiple scores since he faced the Cardinals, who give up the most passing yards (294.2 per game) and touchdowns (32).

    The Bengals may have to throw more than usual if they're trailing, but fantasy owners should avoid challenging the Patriots secondary. The vaunted group features two players with at least four interceptions: lead cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty.

    New England will likely try to neutralize Boyd with Gilmore in coverage for most of the game. Fantasy managers should leave the Bengals wideout on the bench and reinsert him back into the lineup for Week 16 against the Dolphins. 

    Projected Stat Line: two catches, 28 receiving yards

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