Week 15 Fantasy Football Fallout

by Emerson Beery · Fantasy Football

In the heart of the fantasy football playoffs, Week 15 brought about compelling storylines that are reshaping the landscape for both the remainder of the season and in dynasty leagues as well. As we navigate the critical second week of the fantasy football playoffs, this article delves into the standout performances and developments that demand our attention. From rising stars securing prominent roles to seasoned veterans facing challenges, we explore the rest-of-season outlook for key players and assess their long-term dynasty fantasy football outlook as well. Buckle up for a comprehensive review of the biggest headlines from Week 15 as we decipher the impact on fantasy football rosters for the remainder of the playoffs.

Rashee Rice’s Remarkable Rise

Fantasy managers should lock Rashee Rice into their lineups for the next two weeks as he has finally secured a full-time role in the Chiefs’ offense. After bringing him along slowly for most of the season, he received a season-high 92-percent snap percentage. More importantly for fantasy managers, Rice also finished as a WR1 three out of the last four weeks. With a 26.5-percent target share over that span, he’s locked in for a huge role through the fantasy playoffs.

However, in dynasty leagues, I would encourage fantasy managers to be cautious when valuing Rice this offseason. He ranks No. 94 in the NFL in average depth of target and isn’t asked to run very complicated routes. In addition, he has a 35.4-percent win rate vs man coverage compared to 67.6-percent vs a zone defense. While Rice has a bright future, he may not have the skill set of a typical No. 1 receiver in the NFL.

Even though I expect the Chiefs to add to their wide receiver room this offseason, Rice will still be a focal point in 2024. Regardless, the offense would run better through a receiver who can provide more success downfield. Rice is excellent with the ball in his hand but has a long way to go in terms of route development. With Kelce likely returning for at least one more season too, Rice will be the third option in the offense.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire

Gus Edwards Gains Ground

Keaton Mitchell suffered a season-ending ACL injury and is out for the remainder of the season. After deploying a running back by committee approach for several weeks, the Ravens will return to Gus Edwards for the remainder of the season. For a team that is No. 2 in the NFL in run plays a game, the Ravens will use him heavily near the goal line, and he’s a great bet to score a touchdown in week 16. Edwards is now a borderline RB2 in fantasy football leagues in a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

For dynasty fantasy football purposes, the biggest question is how Keaton Mitchell will recover from ACL surgery. Given how late the injury occurred in the season, he won’t be at full strength to start 2024. His status for Week 1 will certainly be in doubt which significantly dampens his dynasty fantasy football value. Entering the top 24 running backs before the injury, Mitchell will now fall into the borderline RB3 conversation. Additionally, the Ravens will be a strong candidate to add to their running back room through the draft or free agency.

Barkley’s Bleak Outlook

Saquon Barkley is not a must-start option in the final two weeks of the fantasy football playoffs. The Giants have run fewer than 55 plays in four straight games, ranking near the bottom of the NFL. Barkley is on pace for a career-low in receiving yards per game and is rushing behind a bad offensive line as well. Furthermore, he is No. 33 in True Yards Per Carry and No. 23 in Evaded Tackles. Most concerning of all though, Barkley has received less than 15 touches in three of his past five games. He will be a borderline RB2 option based on volume against the Eagles, but a bad offense limits his upside.

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Saquon Barkley Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Saquon Barkley‘s value in dynasty leagues will be based on his landing spot in 2024. Set to become a free agent and entering his seventh season in the league, Barkley no longer has his youth to lean on. Additionally, the better offenses in the league will be hesitant to give a large contract to a running back. If Barkley is looking to cash in one more time before the end of his career, it will be in another bad offensive situation. Given his declining explosiveness and receiving usage, he should be firmly outside the top 12 running backs in dynasty fantasy football leagues.

Warren Wrestles Control of the Backfield

For the first time this season, Jaylen Warren took a clear lead in the Pittsburgh backfield over Najee Harris. Warren played 69-percent of the snaps in Week 15 and received six targets compared to zero for Harris. While Harris received two more rush attempts, Warren was on the field on third down and in the two-minute offense. To make matters worse for Harris, he had some glaringly bad runs where he missed wide-open opportunities.

Harris is a physical runner and could succeed in other offensive situations around the league. However, Harris ranks No. 56 in Run Block Rating among running backs, which doesn’t mesh with his lack of explosiveness. The Steelers would be much better served turning to Warren who can generate big plays with his athleticism despite the offensive line. Despite limited opportunities, he is No. 4 in evaded tackles and No. 9 in the NFL in Breakaway Runs. As a result, Warren will be an RB2 option for the final two weeks of the season, and Harris can be left on fantasy benches.

Even though Harris is under contract for the 2024 season as well, there is no reason to have him ahead of Warren in dynasty rankings. Warren should enter as the lead back in 2024 with Harris still taking a large early-down role. If the quarterback situation improves, Warren could have top 15 fantasy upside in 2024. Consider him a top 20 running back in dynasty leagues and a good buy candidate for contending teams next year.

Howell’s Dynasty Dreams are Dwindling

Sam Howell‘s miracle run has ended, and fantasy football managers can now cut him from redraft leagues. Following two straight poor performances and upcoming matchups against the Jets and 49ers, Howell won’t be a top 15 quarterback for the rest of the season. In Week 15, he finished with only 3.9 yards per attempt as he struggled with his accuracy. Ultimately, Howell was benched in favor of Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter, putting his future as the starter in Washington in doubt. However, head coach Ron Rivera did confirm that Howell would be the starter in Week 16.

While Howell sits as the QB7 in fantasy football leagues in 2023, his production has been predominantly based on volume. He sits at No. 22 among quarterbacks in QBR and No. 25 in yards per attempt. The leash will be short for the remainder of the season, and the Commanders will certainly consider their options in the offseason.

Howell is tough to evaluate in dynasty fantasy football leagues as a result. The 2024 NFL Draft class will be one of the deepest in recent memory, and there will be several potential free agents too. Sitting at pick No. 4 overall right now, a player such as Jayden Daniels may be hard to pass up. Howell is a borderline QB2 in dynasty leagues and could have a similar career trajectory as Gardner Minshew.