BY: ZACHARY KRUEGER
I woke up yesterday to snow falling outside my apartment, and a freezing cold bedroom. That's when I knew that Sunday would be a big football day, that some players were going to thrive in the frigid weather, while others looked to be completely lost in frozen tundras.
I was also reminded just how excited I am about the Monday Night Football tilt that is set to take place between the Ravens and Patriots tonight.
Not because I'm a Ravens fan. Nor is it because I have Tom Brady and Dion Lewis on my fantasy team, and need 51 points from them to win tonight. It has nothing to do with any of that.
I just love football, and Ravens vs. Patriots games. They have been some of the best played, most exciting games I have had the privilege of watching over the last eight or nine years. This week's matchup will be just like most, where the Ravens bring a top ranked defense into Foxborough to take on a top ranked offense in the Patriots.
That is exactly what we'll get tonight.
I'll crank out a couple of bold predictions for tonight's Monday Night Football matchup, remind you about a big named backup in Buffalo and explain how one of the juiciest fantasy football games of the season turned into a total dud.
There will also be a few stashes and starters for you to consider for your Week 15 playoff matchup in this week's Monday Rundown!!
12 Bold Monday Night Football Predictions
This isn't even going to be long. Just short, sweet and to the point. The Ravens and Patriots have been one of the most exciting matchups in the NFL pretty much since Flacco came into the league in 2008. Why hype up a matchup that has hyped itself over the years?
Here are 12 bold predictions for tonight's Patriots vs. Ravens bout!
- Joe Flacco goes 27-for-44 passing for 2 TDs, 2 INTS, 274 yards.
- Tom Brady counters with 30-for-45, 4 TDs, 0 INTS, 320 yards. Two TD's to Malclom Mitchell.
- Breshad Perriman continues his emergence, hauls in 6 passes for 107 yards and one TD.
- Kenneth Dixon looks like Baltimore's most explosive back (again), but still has a TD vultured by Terrence West (again).
- Dixon finishes with 60 rush yards and 25 receiving yards. Out touches West 18-11.
- LeGarrette Blount has 10 carries for 37 yards, but the story of the night is Dion Lewis.
- Lewis finishes with 48 rush yards, 60 receiving yards and one touchdown.
- Some guy on the Patriots who nobody considered doing something tonight, will have a big night. Doesn't that always happen?
- Terrell Suggs records two sacks and a forced fumble on Brady.
- John Harbaugh goes 1-for-2 on coach challenges tonight.
- Justin Tucker drills a 60-yard field goal.
- Patriots win 31-24
Tyrod, It's Time For Cardale
The Buffalo Bills, despite their 27-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, more or less got shellacked on Sunday afternoon.
On the ground, the Bills couldn't get anything going, totaling 67 rush yards on 18 runs, while getting one late touchdown run out of LeSean McCoy when the game was just about out of reach.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was just extended this offseason (6 yr./$92 mil.), went 15-for-25 passing for 228 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, thus continuing his fairly mediocre play in 2016.
In 13 games, the Bills are 6-7, and Taylor has 13 passing touchdowns to go with six rushing touchdowns. Hardly an acceptable stat line for a quarterback who was just recently extended and given the reigns to a struggling franchise.
In Taylor's defense, he has been without several wide receivers for a large portion of the season, however at the end of the day you're expected to produce regardless of injuries, no matter how fair/unfair that may seem.
With the Bills all but being out of the playoffs, it could be time for them to consider other options at quarterback, perhaps even somebody like 2016 4th round draft pick Cardale Jones.
You probably know the story on Jones at this point. He became the starter for the Ohio State Buckeyes at the end of their 2014-2015 campaign, leading the team to a Big 10 championship and a National Title over the Oregon Ducks just a month later.
Jones entered the following season as the starter for the Buckeyes, however some lackadaisical play, and a stat line of 109-for-175 passes completed for 1,459 yards, eight touchdowns and five INTs over 10 games, and a benching during the season led to a drastic drop in Jones' draft stock.
He fell to the Bills in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, and now the strong-armed, deceptively fleet footed quarterback could be in line for a few late-season starts for the Bills this season, and the timing couldn't be better.
Buffalo is virtually out of the playoffs, and they have a soft remaining schedule for their final three games of the year.
The Bills will finish out their regular season with back-to-back home games against the Browns and Dolphins, before traveling to the Meadowlands in Week 17 to take on the Jets.
If ever there was a time to see what you might have in a player, why not give him a few cupcake games against two teams that are likely to finish in the bottom five in the league (Browns and Jets), and a team that just lost their starting quarterback for the season (Dolphins)?
At one point in time, the slogan was "Fail for Cardale." While that died early in the 2015 season, the once highly coveted college quarterback could drive his demand up a bit in 2017 with a few solid games to close out his rookie campaign.
Bucs vs. Saints Fantasy Bust in Week 14
If you're in the fantasy football playoffs and have players like Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Doug Martin or some other player in those offenses, you have likely been stoked for the Week 14 and 16 playoff matchups these two divisional foes bring to the table.
Then you started all of those guys and expected a big haul in points in return, and got, whelp, close to nothing.
Brees and Winston both failed to throw a touchdown, and for the second game in a row, Brees has yet to complete a pass in the end zone.
Surprisingly enough, both defenses who have been shied away from for the majority of the season, posted extremely stout performances, with the Buccaneers walking away winners in a low-scoring 16-11 affair.
The only player to find the end zone on the day was Doug Martin, who finished the day with 23 carries for 66 yards and one rushing touchdown, while hauling in another two passes for 19 yards.
The fantasy gods took a metaphorical dump on teams across the globe, and have likely left several fantasy GM's shaking their heads, wondering how this was possible.
Perhaps it was because of the way fantasy experts, myself included (although far from an expert) overlooked the recent performance of the Buccaneers defense.
In their last four games leading up to Week 14, the Buccaneers have reeled off four straight wins, while outscoring opponents 81-53, allowing an average of 13.25 PPG over that span.
Furthermore, they also recorded 12 sacks, seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns during that time, an absurd amount of production for anybody, much less for a team that was heading into a game against a deflated Saints offense.
The Bucs managed to force another three interceptions off of Brees on Sunday, and got to him for a sack as well. It was a road matchup that did nothing more than further exploit the downward spiraling Saints, who have now hit 5-8 on the year and are about one loss away from playoff elimination.
The Saints and Bucs face one another in a Week 16 tilt in New Orleans, but it's hard to say just how trustworthy anybody not named Drew Brees will be for the Saints.
For the Bucs, I would still feel comfortable rolling out Winston, Evans, Brate and Martin in Week 16.
Stash and Start Fantasy Week 15
There isn't much time left, or many other names to stash or start for fantasy football in Week 15. As a matter of fact, you'll noticed I completely rid the article of sleepers, because how many are really left out there at this point?
Now we are either holding or starting guys to give us a slight edge in our final weeks of the 2016-2017 fantasy football season. Here are a few names that could turn into league winners for your squad if you're still hanging around!
Stash: Kenneth Farrow - Running Back (SD)
Percent Owned in Yahoo! Leagues - 4%
For now, stash him. If Melvin Gordon can't go against the Raiders, start him.
Rookie running back Kenneth Farrow found himself replacing Melvin Gordon early in the first quarter of Sunday's matchup against the Panthers after Gordon was carted off the field with a hip injury.
At this point, the hip injury is not being viewed as a significant one, and perhaps Gordon could return for Week 15, but if he can't, it's Farrow all day.
Farrow finished his Week 14 game with 16 carries for 55 yards (3.4 YPC), and six receptions for 23 yards. Gordon has been the bell cow for San Diego all season, and Farrow has the size and ability to carry the load for the Chargers if needed.
The added bonus to playing Farrow aside from the potential volume that could come his way is the fact that his bulky frame makes him an ideal goal line back if the situation calls for it.
Start: Dontrelle Inman - Wide Receiver (SD)
Percent Owned in Yahoo! Leagues - 23%
If you are still looking for a solid WR3 to plug into your lineup, look no further than another San Diego Charger, Dontrelle Inman.
In the last Chargers' last three games, Inman has been targeted 18 times, hauling in 14 receptions for 239 yards and three touchdowns.
Inman is looking more and more like Rivers' favorite target on offense, and if Gordon is unable to play next week, he could continue to see an uptick in targets and scoring opportunities.
The Chargers play the Raiders in Week 15 and Browns in Week 16, creating two very favorable matchups for Inman in games that could be a shootout (vs. Raiders) or a blowout (@ Browns).
Start: Robby Anderson - Wide Receiver (NYJ)
Percent Owned in Yahoo! Leagues - 2%
Go ahead and grab him and start him, folks.
New York Jets rookie wide receiver Robby Anderson just might be the most unpredictable player to hit the fantasy postseason, but he is looking more legit every week.
He was quarterback Bryce Petty's favorite target in practice and the preseason, and now Anderson has managed a blistering 23 targets in the last two weeks, which has led to 10 receptions for 160 yards and a score.
The rookie speedster out of Temple has been working all season to make a name for himself this year, and has had a surprisingly successful rookie campaign.
Even with Petty not playing most of the season, Anderson has still managed six or more targets in seven of the 11 games he has played in this year, and looks to only be going up from here.
He gets a matchup in Week 15 against the Dolphins, who could surrender several scoring opportunities to the Jets. If you're looking for an explosive boom-or-bust player next week, look no further than Robby Anderson.
Stash: Adrian Peterson - Running Back (MIN)
Percent Owned in Yahoo! Leagues - 45%
What?!?!?! Adrian Peterson is actually going to be fantasy relevant in 2016?!
The seasoned veteran is coming off an MCL tear suffered in Week 2, and was thought to be lost for the season. Fortunately (maybe) for fantasy owners, he just might suit up and start Week 15 against the Colts.
Peterson was quoted as saying that he would like to play this season if the Vikings are still in contention for the postseason. Whelp, with a win Sunday against the Jaguars, the Vikings are still alive in the postseason race, and they play a Colts defense that can be easily gauged on the ground.
The Vikings have a banged up offensive line, and prior to his injury Peterson had 31 carries for 50 yards (1.6 YPC).
Based on those reasons alone, you may not want to consider doing anything with ADP this fantasy postseason. That being said if you're looking for a gutsy play to lead you to fantasy glory, he just might be your guy.
Keep an eye on news concerning Peterson as Week 15 draws closer, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him suit up this week against the Colts. A good performance and a touchdown might be pushing it, but if you're desperate for a win and an edge over your opponent, you have to consider him.
Follow Zachary Krueger on Twitter at @CentralBirdland!