Awakening the Dead: 3 players poised for big fantasy football returns in week 15

by Zach Krueger ·

Imagine a stereotypical scene from your favorite cheesy horror film. The camera pans across a graveyard where bodies lay lifeless beneath the earth. In this case, names of former prominent fantasy players such as: Greg Olsen, Kerwynn Williams, and Robert Woods headline the tombstones as the ground begins to shake. Then, these players spontaneously emerge from the earth, ready to roam the fantasy football world again. Coveted fantasy football championships are within the sights, and armed with advanced stats, metrics, and analytics player profiles, these three players could serve as the final piece for a successful fantasy playoff push.

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals

Adrian Peterson isn’t coming back, and Kerwynn Williams has feasted in his absence. He has totaled 185 yards over the last two weeks against the Rams and Titans. Williams will look to continue his rise this week against Washington, a team that is allowing +1.36 points above league average to opposing fantasy running backs this season.

Williams looks the part of a productive NFL satellite back. He recorded a 13.6-percent College Target Share (88th-percentile) and a 6.9 college YPC (92nd-percentile). The diminutive running back who boasts a 4.48 40-yard dash (81st-percentile), has logged only one reception over the last two weeks. However, Williams has seen a career high in carries. Though miscast as a workhorse back, opportunity is opportunity. Williams’ is a top option on fantasy football league waiver wires based on a virtuous combination of excellent speed, 75-percent projected Opportunity Share, and an effective offensive line, which offers an 83.1 (No. 12) Run Blocking Efficiency Rating on Player Profiler.com.

Kerwynn Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

As it stands right now, there’s not a running back on the Cardinals who is threatening Williams for touches. Moreover, his 36 carries for 170 rushing yards over the last two weeks indicates he will be Arizona’s primary back for the remainder of the season. Williams checks the necessary boxes to produce low-end fantasy RB2/high-end fantasy RB3 numbers the rest of the way.

Robert Woods, WR, Rams

Robert Woods was finally peaking as the Rams primary wide receiver, before being grounded with a shoulder strain that resulted in him missing the last two weeks. Prior to his injury, Woods saw a three week stretch in which he amassed 26 targets, logging 20 receptions for 322 yards and four touchdowns, finishing those weeks as the WR6 (Week 9), WR1 (Week 10) and WR15 (Week 11).

Since joining the Rams this past offseason, Woods’ stock has been on the rise on a team that featured a young roster, and no wide receiver worth speaking of (pre-Sammy Watkins trade). Just as those preseason predictions finally looked to be coming true, Woods went down with an injury for two weeks. He looks to re-emerge in Week 15 against the Seahawks, who have recently fallen victim to injuries in their secondary with the loss of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.

Instead, Robert Woods gets to make his return against cornerback Byron Maxwell, who currently ranks as the 109th best cornerback on PlayerProfiler’s Cornerback Matchup Rankings. Maxwell has allowed opposing quarterbacks to hang a 131.3 Passer Rating on him this season (no. 65) and was even cut by the Dolphins mid season prior to returning to Seattle. Over the last two weeks, Maxwell has allowed opposing receivers to secure 14 of 17 targets for 266 yards, and doesn’t look to fare much better against a now healthy Robert Woods.

Robert Woods has been one of the most efficient wide receivers in football this season, posting a +18.9 Production Premium (no. 12) and 10.0 Yards Per Target (no. 10). In addition, his quarterback has enjoyed a 118.9 Passer Rating when targeting him. Pair Woods’ efficiency with Byron Maxwell’s inefficiency, and you have everything you want for a pending breakout in Week 15.

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

Greg Olsen has been in the fantasy football doldrums all season. He suffered a fractured foot in Week 2 causing him to miss nine straight games. Since returning in Week 12, he has only secured one reception for 10 yards on five targets, while participating in only 25 routes. Olsen has slowly been worked back into the lineup, and saw his highest Snap Share post-injury in Week 14. He logged a 70.5-percent Snap Share against the Minnesota Vikings.

Olsen looks to continue his return from injury in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers, who currently rank as the second best defense in points allowed to opposing tight ends, holding them to -4.90 points below league average. Despite the Packers ability to stop tight ends, Olsen has long been one of the most prolific tight ends in fantasy football. He is only one year removed from a season in which he was No. 5 among tight ends in fantasy points per game (12.8), second in targets (129), second in receiving yards (1,073) and fourth in receptions (80).

When healthy, Olsen is one of the best tight ends in football. With a 4.51 40-yard dash time (97th-percentile), a 125.9 Speed Score (99th-percentile) and a 10.18 Catch Radius (81st-percentile), Olsen has been a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses for years. What’s also unique with Olsen is his usage in the slot. He ranked first among tight ends in 2016 with a 37.5-percent Slot Rate and recorded a 11.6 Target Distance (No. 3). As he gets healthier and his Snap Share continues to trend upwards, Olsen could turn into a late season gem for the final weeks of the fantasy football playoffs. We’ve waited for long to post his Return From The Dead story, and now it is here in week 15!