Brace yourselves, folks. The water cooler is going to be surrounded by fantasy football chatter Tuesday morning.
Week 15 marked the championship or semifinal round in many season-long fantasy leagues, and with raised stakes come more chances for thrilling victories or heartbreaking defeats. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably involved in one of the two.
Maybe you trailed in your playoff matchup before Cam Newton rode in on his white horse Monday night to save the day. Or maybe you’re on the outside looking in because you benched that one guy who went off and started that other guy who didn’t do anything. Or maybe you’re not in the playoffs at all, but your friends have been bugging you about their teams all morning and you just wish they’d shut up.
Whatever your reason, it’s worth examining the biggest studs and duds from what was a wild Week 15 on the fantasy front. First, let’s start with the stars, who we’ll call “season-savers” (or, if you were facing them, season-ruiners).
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints. Brees went into a tough matchup against a stout Arizona Cardinals defense and blew doors. His 389 passing yards and four touchdowns easily made him the top-scoring QB of the week, and if you stuck with him in a bad matchup after two horrible weeks, you deserve to be playing for a championship.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints. See above. Cooks was the highest-scoring player of the week in standard leagues (half-point PPR), racking up seven catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Like Brees, he was in a bit of a rough stretch entering Sunday, and if you benched him, you paid the price.
Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Green Bay Packers. Montgomery was a gamble given Green Bay’s apparent aversion to the ground game. But he paid off in a huge way Sunday, going off for 162 rushing yards and two TDs on 16 carries as Aaron Rodgers was hobbled with an injury. Pat yourself on the back if you started him.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons. The San Francisco 49ers are the gift that keeps on giving. Freeman had a field day against the NFL’s worst run defense with 139 rushing yards and three TDs, rewarding fantasy owners who stayed loyal to him after his six-carry, 6-yard dud in Week 14.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. We knew Brady would have a tough time throwing on the Denver Broncos, but we didn’t know it’d be this bad. TB12 deflated fantasy owners’ dreams with just 188 passing yards and zero TDs, marking the first time this season he’s been held to under 10 fantasy points.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings. Temptation is a deadly beast. If you rolled the dice on Peterson in his return against the Indianapolis Colts’ vulnerable run defense, you got burned big time, as the one-time fantasy stud rushed for just 22 yards while coughing up a fumble. Nice knowing you, Adrian.
Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Cleveland Browns. Maybe you thought Pryor would get some garbage-time points against an erratic Buffalo Bills defense. Well, he didn’t. Pryor caught four passes for just 19 yards, which is what you get for starting someone on the Browns.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins. There’s nothing worse than a Monday night letdown, and Reed collapsed in spectacular fashion. He caught just one pass for 6 yards while battling a painful shoulder injury, then got himself ejected in the third quarter to end any chance of your comeback.
Thumbnail photo via Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Images