Fantasy sizzlers, fizzlers: Star emerges for Patriots despite crazy loss
A solid and steady running back — even if that player is not a ‘star’ — is essential for every team as a strong performance on the ground can usually compensate for deficiencies in other areas.
The Patriots got a monster performance at running back that put New England in position to score a road win in Las Vegas until a costly gaffe as time expired led to a Raiders celebration. The Denver Broncos also finally showed signs of life with a huge spark from their ground game.
The Carolina Panthers and New York Jets, on the other hand, fell flat in their rushing attacks leading to Sunday losses and dimming playoff prospects.
These players saw their fantasy values increase or decrease most based on their performances in Week 15:
RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots: Las Vegas did not have an answer for Stevenson as he almost single-handedly won the game for New England with 172 yards rushing and a touchdown until a bizarre and botched lateral by the Patriots gifted a win to the Raiders.
RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: With Atlanta switching to rookie Desmond Ridder at quarterback, it just makes sense for them to see what they have in fellow rookie running back Allgeier as well. What they discovered this past week against New Orleans was that if you give Allgeier the ball 17 times, he’ll rush for 139 yards and a touchdown.
RB Latavius Murray, Denver Broncos: We finally saw a spark from the Denver offense as they ran the ball well against an Arizona defense that had no answers for how to stop Denver’s ground game. Murray erupted for 142 yards combined and a rushing touchdown in a game that Denver didn’t have to frantically try to get back into.
WR Zay Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones and Evan Engram have led the way in Jacksonville’s late season surge as two of Trevor Lawrence’s most trusted targets. Jones found the end zone three times against Dallas, along with 109 yards receiving in an upset overtime victory. Jones continues to be heavily targeted each week and has a real chance at being a playoff darling in fantasy for those that have him rostered.
WR Russell Gage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Julio Jones wasn’t able to play, and Mike Evans appears to be in a funk so Tom Brady did some problem solving and targeted Russell Gage 12 times instead. Gage also scored a pair of touchdowns in what should be the beginning of a lot more looks, as Tampa Bay attempts to figure out who they can trust in their offense.
RB D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers: It’s never a good thing for fantasy production when you have less rushing yards than attempts but that’s what happened to Foreman in a tough loss to Pittsburgh. Foreman had 10 rushing attempts for just nine yards in a game that showcased why it is difficult to trust Foreman week-to-week in the fantasy playoffs.
RB Zonovan Knight, N.Y. Jets: His stock had never been higher than before the start of Week 15 as many had already anointed him as a top fantasy selection for 2023. Knight repaid those that trusted him in their lineups with just 23 yards rushing against a Detroit defense that has had trouble containing most players.
WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys: It’s safe to say that Gallup is no longer an option in the Dallas offense with the team not only adding T.Y. Hilton to the roster but Noah Brown seeing nine targets to Gallup’s two in a tough overtime loss to Jacksonville.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers: With Deebo Samuel out of the lineup for multiple weeks, Aiyuk should have been the one player with increased opportunities. Aiyuk has caught just four receptions over his last two games, and his target share has gone down instead of up as he was a much more stable contributor when Samuel was on the field.
TE Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers: ‘Muth’ has been reliably involved in the Pittsburgh offense all season long, but this past week against Carolina, Freiermuth managed his first zero of the season in a game where he didn’t see even one target.