Fantasy Football: NFL's High Risk/High Reward Players for Week 15 and Playoffs

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IIDecember 15, 2010

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 28:  Running back Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 28, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Sadly, the fantasy football season is slowly coming to an end. It seems a lot slower at this point because we are all anxious to see how we perform in our league’s fantasy playoffs.

Right now, the fantasy football season is a lot like celebrating Christmas as a kid. You always were excited to see what Santa brought you, but the last couple of weeks before Christmas seemed to drag and drag and drag.

For the risky players like me, this article is for you. So many people want to stick with the safer plays, but the safer play doesn’t always get you the amount of points you need. Sure, you could start a consistent Ray Rice against a solid run defense, or you could start a guy like Brandon Jacobs going up against a poor run defense and hope for a big game.

So let’s show you some of the High Risk/High Reward plays for Week 15:

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego vs. San Francisco

Mathews starts us off with a Thursday Night matchup at home against San Francisco. Mathews is coming off of a solid Week 14, where he carried the ball 16 times for 64 yards and even got into the end zone.

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It’s looking good for Mathews to start getting his fair share of carries, but San Francisco’s run defense isn’t all that bad. Mathews could get the bulk of the carries this week, and does have break away potential. We just haven’t got to see it all that much this season. He could be worth a Flex look this week.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati vs. Cleveland

It’s sad that Carson Palmer can’t see to get back to his own self, but it’s worth noting that Palmer torched the Browns for 371 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4.

The problem is, it was under different circumstances. The weather was warm and nice, Eric Wright was starting and covering Terrell Owens, and the Browns had not yet established an identity. The Browns have looked a bit better against the pass thanks to Joe Haden starting, and this could be an entirely different game.

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore vs. New Orleans

Flacco has been a very solid fantasy quarterback in 2010, getting into double digit points almost every single week. But his Week 15 matchup isn’t the most favorable.

New Orleans has given up just eight touchdowns in the air all season. They’ve been very stingy letting teams in the end zone. The good news is that they don’t force many turnovers, and that Flacco does have Anquan Boldin, and the resurgent Derrick Mason who is on fire right now.

It’s a tough call.

Kyle Orton, QB, Denver @ Oakland Raiders

Orton just hasn’t looked like the QB he was all season since Josh McDaniels was fired. We obviously know Orton is capable of huge games, and he has the receivers and play makers on offense to do it.

But his below average play the last two weeks is scary, and Oakland is stingy in terms of overall yardage given up in the pass. Oakland doesn’t have any problems giving up passing touchdowns, though, which is the bright side. If Orton is going to have a good game, he’s going to do it by having 2-3 touchdowns, and most likely barely 200 yards. But without McDaniels in there, it seems as if the Denver offense has lost its stride.

Zach Miller, TE, Oakland vs. Denver Broncos

Miller has everything going for him this week. He’s healthy, he’s got a hot quarterback, and he’s facing the 28th ranked defense against tight ends in the league. Denver’s defense can’t stop anybody, let’s face it.

What makes Miller risky is that Jason Campbell has seemed to find Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford a bit more now while Miller was nursing an injury. We could see Miller’s targets decrease. Luckily, he’s still a top notch red zone target, and he’s going to catch passes. I’m taking the risk with Miller this week. When he’s healthy, Campbell should find him regardless.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City @ St. Louis

There are a few factors that make Charles risky this week, and last week really exposed one of the biggest ones. Matt Cassel. With Matt Cassel out, teams can stack the box to stop the run game of Charles and Thomas Jones, both who are quite capable of breaking big runs.

St. Louis has done a very good job of keeping running backs out of the end zone this season, and haven’t been terrible overall against the run. Cassel should be back, but if he doesn’t return, and Brodie Croyle starts, it may be worth benching Charles.

Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh vs. New York Jets

There’s no doubting Hines Wards ability to catch the football regularly. But he did have a few weeks where he caught either one or no passes, which was a bit worrisome. Big Ben isn’t 100% and seems to be struggling to find the end zone.

Add in the fact that Darrelle Revis will most likely be sticking to Ward, and you have a scary matchup. If for some reason Revis covers Mike Wallace (which is possible as he covered Davone Bess in Week 14), then Ward is a solid play this week. But it’s very risky, and the Jets defense will be hungry after losing their last two games.

Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota vs. Chicago

Harvin has the potential to be one of the most explosive wide receivers in the NFL. But migraines have held him out of the last two weeks, and Minnesota doesn’t quite have the most ideal quarterbacks playing this season. Brett Favre is struggling, and Tarvaris Jackson is a turnover machine.

Harvin is generally a very safe play when healthy, but if he’s not feeling well enough to be 100%, he could be quite the risk. Not to mention, the Vikings don’t have anything to play for, whereas Chicago is still in the playoff mix, and needs this win.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets @ Pittsburgh

Holmes has been held without a touchdown in each of his last two weeks, and what’s most notable about those weeks is that Mark Sanchez has struggled. I don’t forsee Sanchez to rebound, in fact, he’ll probably have another mediocre game at best.

When the QB isn’t playing well, the wide receivers will struggle. While Holmes has still had a solid amount of yardage, it’s a bit frustrating after being spoiled with three straight weeks of touchdowns for Santonio.

Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee vs. Houston

We all know that Houston can’t stop anybody defensively. Their injuries, and especially secondary struggles have really hurt them all season long. Collins is in a great situation with Chris Johnson playing very well, and having Kenny Britt back.

Collins could blow up in this game. He had three touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Colts on Thursday Night football, and he could easily repeat that success against this defense. But Houston has to win out for any sort of chance to make the playoffs, so look for their defense to be head hunting all game.