Here are a trio of options for FantasyDraft’s Thursday-Monday slate:
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks, $11,000 – If looking solely at the over/under of the Rams/Seahawks tilt on Thursday night, the game does not seem like an appealing one to target in terms of fantasy. For the most part, the game is severely lacking in fantasy potential, but all of the fantasy allure comes from the Seahawks side of the ball. Amazingly, the Rams are only implied to score 11.25 points on Thursday which is the lowest projected total in three NFL seasons. On the other hand, the Seahawks are implied to score 27.3 points and Thomas Rawls is reasonably fresh having only carried the ball 12 times against the stout Packers rushing defense last week. The strongest correlation between a high Vegas total and fantasy production comes via the RB position and at least one RB from the Thursday Night Football game has scored 19-plus fantasy points in every week since Nov. 10 (Ravens versus Browns)…and neither of those teams have a true featured back. Expect Rawls to receive a heavy workload and continue that trend this week against a horrendous Rams team overall that will struggle to possess the football for long.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, $12,300 – Even though the Seahawks are expected to put a beat down on the Rams, Russell Wilson will still need to go to the air occasionally and Doug Baldwin’s individual matchup stands out. Not only has Baldwin eclipsed double-digit fantasy points in six consecutive games but he has been targeted at least six times in all but one of those contests. Over the course of the last three games, he has seen at least seven targets in each and hauled in at least six passes. He will face a Rams defense that allowed a long TD to Taylor Gabriel last week and one that ranks 22nd in defending third WRs and beyond (encompassing the slot). Although Trumaine Johnson has played well this year, Baldwin has a talent advantage on him (according to Pro Football Focus) and he also has moved around the formation some this season. While other targets fade in and out of the offense, Baldwin has proven to be the one true reliable receiver. If looking for a receiver with upside, who also will likely not kill a lineup, Baldwin makes a ton of sense.
Seahawks Defense, $7,800 – Last but not least, the absolute best play from Thursday Night game is none other than the Seahawks defense playing at home. To reiterate, the Rams are only implied to score 11.25 real points. Although the Seahawks were torched by Aaron Rodgers last week, Jared Goff on short rest is not exactly an equal in terms of formidability. Prior to Week 14, the Seahawks had only allowed 15 real points or less in three consecutive games and had scored at least 7.00 fantasy points in every game during that streak. Additionally, the Seahawks defense has scored at least 7.00 fantasy points in every game at home this year other than against the 49ers (which came in Week 4). There is no safer option at the position this week so playing the Thursday slate makes sense if only because the defense’s combination of talent and matchup stands out above and beyond any other unit.
…and other options that have not been mentioned in articles on the website so far this week:
Bilal Powell (included in Thursday-Monday slate), Jets, $10,600 – After leaving last week’s game due to injury, it is sounding more and more like Matt Forte is going to miss this week’s tilt against the Dolphins at home. Consequently, Bilal Powell, the NFL’s leader in yards per carry (min. 70 attempts), will draw the start after rushing for 145 yards and two TDs after Forte exited last week’s game early. In 2015, Powell caught the 11th most passes of any RB (47) and he ranks ninth once again this year so his game is well-rounded from a fantasy perspective. At $10,600, there is simply too much value to pass on here almost regardless of matchup because of his incredible volume out of the backfield (29 carries last week) plus a healthy amount of involvement in the passing game as well. It should be noted the Dolphins rank 22nd in rushing DVOA so the matchup is a positive as well. All signs point to a solid outing from a sneakily solid fantasy producer (even just as a chance of pace back) who now has his time to shine.
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers, $8,700 – Speaking of guys having their time to shine, Melvin Gordon may or may not return this season and Danny Woodhead is already done so it is now time for Kenneth Farrow to handle the load. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken, the Chargers could use Farrow and newly signed Ronnie Hillman in a “platoon” if Gordon were to sit this week (which looks extremely likely). After Gordon went down with injury last week, Farrow carried the ball 16 times for 55 yards (3.4 yards per carry (YPC)) and caught 6-6 targets for 23 yards. Like Powell, the potential volume supersedes all other factors even though the matchup against the Raiders is a favorable one as well (26th in rushing DVOA). Although Farrow is not a special talent, and the possibility remains Hillman gets the hot hand and runs with it, he still is worthy of rostering in tournaments in case he receives a similar workload to last week. If so, especially if the passing game work comes close, he could crush value.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns, $8,000 – Everyone is talking about just how amazing Le’Veon Bell is this week but no one seems to be mentioning Isaiah Crowell now draws a matchup against the same defense Bell torched. Sure the game was snowy but the Bills ranked 26th in rushing DVOA even before the Bell beat-down (29th now). Last week, Crowell rushed for 100-plus yards himself against a Bengals defense that coincidentally will face Bell now in Week 15. With Robert Griffin III under center, Duke Johnson is not going to see a whole lot of action in the passing game as supporting a receiving back really is not in Griffin’s skill set. Either Griffin has enough time to find his receivers downfield or he takes off and runs. Therefore, Crowell remains the most valuable in this backfield because he is the one used to pound the ball on the ground a majority of the time. Assuming the team commits to Crowell once again this week, 100-plus yards and a TD are well within reach.
Jordan Reed, Redskins, $10,300 – Jordan Reed is playing with one healthy shoulder right now but he should be in for a monster game as long as he can handle the pain. The matchup could not be much better as the Panthers have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing TEs and 10 TDs to the position. Furthermore, Vegas implies the Redskins will score a hefty 28.5 points on Monday Night Football which is well within reach because all of their top pass-catching options draw favorable matchups. Sans Luke Keuchly, Reed may draw the best matchup of them all as he literally graded as Pro Football Focus’ top cover linebacker. Without him, Reed, one of the game’s best TEs, should be free to roam against a defense devoid of other players capable of covering him one-on-one.