NFL Week 15 Recap - The Fantasy Usage Model

Dec 19th 2023

Hayden Winks

Posted every Tuesday, The Fantasy Usage Model combines my expected fantasy points model with his film notes to recap the previous week's game. An explanation of this is here, but it basically turns targets, carries, air yards, goal line touches, and other variables into expected fantasy points. We have the sickest fantasy show ever on Tuesday nights going over this column. If you have time for 1 hour of fantasy content, make it this one.

Week 15 Fantasy Points vs. Expected

These are averages from Weeks 12-15. Best viewed on desktop/laptop. Watch our YouTube show on this column. People who viewed Stats vs. Film watched for over 30 minutes last week. It's our most engaging content. It's live on Tuesday night.

Some quick notes on players: The Colts are 1st in neutral pass rate this month, but we'll see if Michael Pittman (concussion), Jonathan Taylor (thumb), or Zack Moss (shoulder) can suit up. It sounds like Taylor is expected back ... Joe Flacco is on a full send, bringing the Browns up to 2nd in neutral pass rate. Amari Cooper is the WR21 in usage as David Njoku's sidekick (TE2 in usage). It's a fun story, one that could be spoiled by even more OL injuries ... Meanwhile the Panthers are dead last in neutral pass rate, opting to give Chuba Hubbard a bellcow workload. He's the RB9 on RB5 usage this month under a new play-caller. Bryce Young can't keep anyone alive through the air right now en route to one of the worst statistical rookie seasons. Adam Thielen is the WR45 in usage this month. Age matters.

The Falcons are so back. Desmond Ridder's weekly red zone brain melter sends him to the bench for Taylor Heinicke, who isn't exactly known for his poise either. Arthur Smith will establish it again (31st in neutral pass rate), but that doesn't mean Bijan Robinson is an elite play after another fumble in Week 15. Bijan is the RB14 on RB17 as the biggest fantasy tease of the year. Oh, and right when you think you can trust Drake London, you can't (3.8 expected half PPR points in Week 15). I think the entire fantasy community is rooting for the Bucs in that division. Also, ban divisions. America is about freedom ...

The Rams are also so back. Kyren Williams fumbles twice but still is a "guy you need" in Week 15. He is averaging 5.2 more expected points than the second-closest RB this month because Matthew Stafford is going ham again. Cooper Kupp is the WR10 on WR16 usage this month, with the trend line pointing up and to the right now that he's weeks healed from nagging injuries. Puka Nacua (WR11 usage) is in the WR1 mix still, too. It's not hyperbole to question if Stafford is a top-5 real life QB right now. Sean McVay has him that in the zone.

Travis Etienne is a major positive regression candidate, pending Trevor Lawrence's health. He's the RB17 on RB6 usage this month. The same story can be told about Calvin Ridley, WHO IS THE WR40 ON WR3 USAGE THIS MONTH. COME ON. If Zay Jones is out, too, you guys will hate my Ridley ranking this week. In fact, I'll also hate it.

Aaron Jones had 17.7 expected half PPR points without AJ Dillon (thumb) in his return. There are RB1 paths down the stretch in an improved offense ... Raheem Mostert (21.3 expected half PPR points) is the clear lead back in the red zone over De'Von Achane, who had his usual workload despite a toe injury. The rookie just didn't have his typical 50-yard score, perhaps because the Dolphins OL is missing multiple starters ... James Cook is the RB2 on RB10 usage this month, coming off a career-best game. The Bills are a balanced offense with new OC Joe Brady. Adjust ... Rachaad White is a game-breaker as a receiver, and Baker Mayfield is a legit mid-level starter. Adjust ... Devin Singletary had a season-high 21.7 expected half PPR points with Dameon Pierce fully benched. He had a walk off TD called back, too. It'd be a big surprise if Singletary wasn't a featured part of the offense in Week 16, with or without C.J. Stroud.

It's time to be concerned with Breece Hall after the Jets are fully eliminated from the playoffs and with Trevor Siemian potentially in-line to start. Hall had 4.2 expected half PPR points in last week's embarrassing loss. The Jets OL is a war zone ... It's time to be even more concerned with Austin Ekeler after a 6.7 expected half PPR performance in the Chargers' burial. He's an expiring contract, underperforming player, and attached to a brutal backup QB. It's sadly Joever ... David Montgomery (RB23 usage this month) and Jahmyr Gibbs (RB24 usage) are upside options, with Gibbs looking better last week after getting to the edge multiple times. The OL is healthy again and when this team is at home, they can really cook ... D'Andre Swift is the most overrated RB in the NFL. I have no idea how he didn't score on that red zone run last week. He's the RB42 on RB27 usage this month, almost impossible to do behind that elite Eagles OL ... Ty Chandler had 17.7 expected half PPR points as the VIkings' bellcow. He's very clearly better than Alexander Mattison even if the veteran was able to get healthy. Chandler is an upside RB2 right now ... It absolutely sucks that Kenneth Walker only has RB29 usage because he puts on a show every time he touches the ball. 9.9 and 10.9 expected points in his last two starts just puts a lid on the ceiling chances ... It sucks even more than Keaton Mitchell is out for the season and likely for much of 2024 with a multi-ligament knee tear (see: JK Dobbins). It'll be Gus Bus driving the ground game with Justice Hill as a change-of-pace option. Edwards had an 8-game stretch of averaging 11.1 expected half PPR points in the middle of the season. That's a fine starting point for expectations.

Trey McBride is the TE2 on TE1 usage this month. He's in consideration for TE1 overall going into next season. That's not a bit ... Ditto for Sam LaPorta, who already has the most fantasy points of any rookie TE ever (with 3 games to go) ... The age cliff has come for Travis Kelce. The YAC and contested catches have been cut in half, as have the Chiefs red zone chances. Kelce is the TE7 on TE5 usage this month ... T.J. Hockenson is just the TE6 on TE7 usage this month now that Justin Jefferson is back with a backup QB ... Isaiah Likely has upside TE2 usage but has the speed and QB for spike weeks, like we've seen in back-to-back games ... Taysom Hill only played 12 snaps despite not having Chris Olave. The Saints have found another TE in his 30s to scheme up goal line looks: Jimmy Graham. It's hard not to laugh at the Saints from afar ... Dalton Kincaid isn't the scheme fit they envisioned back in the offseason. The Bills want to run more than ever, and Dawson Knox is far more physical. Kincaid's targets and routes aren't worthy of TE1 consideration right now ... Darren Waller returned after I forgot he was a football player. He wasn't a full-time participant but his targets per route were strong. Full practices will get me more confident as a top-12 play in the fantasy semis.

Post-Bye Rookie Bump Rashee Rice is now the WR6 on WR8 fantasy usage this month. Man do the Chiefs need him to continue to develop ... Fellow rookie Jayden Reed has 15.4 and 12.1 expected half PPR points without Christian Watson, as Reed has fully lapped Romeo Doubs in targets. Reed is a must start right now ... Justin Jefferson had 11.1 expected half PPR points with Nick Mullens, with the absurd TD scores instead going to Jordan Addison. The rookie seems to keep inventing ways to score. I don't think Jefferson is the elite WR1 he was without Kirk Cousins. I get that's not a bold take ... Jaylen Waddle had his best usage since Week 8 with Tyreek Hill (ankle) ruled out. Screens were there early before a sideline deep shot paid off ... It took one Jacoby Brissett drive for Terry McLaurin to be a thing again, but the Commanders continue pretending Sam Howell is a franchise QB. Beats me. McLaurin is the WR20 in usage this month ... The #WifeNarrative is real with Chris Godwin (WR24 usage). The Packers are also embarrassing covering the middle of the field.

Stefon Diggs is the WR26 in usage with the new offense taking over. Adjust ... That's 17.3 expected half PPR points for Noah Brown in Week 15 without Nico Collins and Tank Dell. We'll see if Collins or C.J. Stroud can return to the lineup. He's a built-in flex play either way with room for more ... Jaxon Smith-Njigba hasn't been overly involved and hasn't popped off the tape much this season while acclimating to a new offense. His walk-off TD was his best play of the year by a wide margin ... Same with Tee Higgins' TD grab near the pylon. I still don't know how he scored that, but hopefully this version of Higgins continues as Ja'Marr Chase (shoulder) is questionable to play.

Week 15 Fantasy Football Charts