Fantasy Football Reaction: Top-Ranked Rushers Cost Owners In Week 15

Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris were among those who may have led owners to a first-round exit


December 21, 2021

It was a very bizarre Week 15 for fantasy football owners and unfortunately that meant an early playoff exit with the slate serving as the first week of the postseason in many leagues.

Three of Yahoo’s top eight running back entering Week 15 scored outside the top-33 players at the position in full-point PPR leagues. It was essentially as if the players who got fantasy owners to the playoffs then were the reason they were eliminated.

Well, here are the winners, losers and surprises from Week 15 in fantasy football. Of note, all statistics are courtesy of SportRadar.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor finished as the exception to the aforementioned rule. The Patriots, and therefore opposing fantasy owners, kept Taylor in check for the better part of 57 minutes before a 67-yard touchdown resulted in a dozen crunch-time fantasy points and helped him finish RB2 in scoring. Taylor saw the second most touches in the league (29) and turned them into 23.00 points. He finished with 170 yards from scrimmage, but had just one run of 10 or more yards before his fourth-quarter score. It wasn’t a top performance for Taylor, but given other results around the league, owners were lucky to have him come through.

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Dolphins
Johnson was owned in just 2% of Yahoo leagues entering Week 15 and was RB71 entering the slate. Johnson played 58% of offensive snaps against the New York Jets, and made the most of it before finishing as the league’s highest-scoring running back. Johnson finished with 1.12 points per touch on 23 touches from scrimmage (25.70 points). He went for 127 yards from scrimmage with 64.5% coming after contact on a league-best four broken tackles. Johnson finished with four rushes of 10 or more yards and two touchdowns.

Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Gage, who was owned in 50% of Yahoo leagues and ranked WR29 entering the week, finished sixth in scoring among wideouts (and out-scored all running backs besides Johnson) behind 2.89 points per touch. Gage caught eight of the 11 balls thrown his way with five receptions of 10 or more yards, which were second in the league. He scored Atlanta’s only touchdown in a one-sided loss to the 49ers, but more than doubled his projection.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce was the highest-scoring player in all of fantasy football, edging WR1, and teammate, Tyreek Hill. Kelce finished with 4.11 points per touch on 10 touches (!!). He went off against the Los Angeles Chargers while recording 191 yards from scrimmage on four explosive receptions of 16 or more yards. His performance Thursday night set up a lot of owners for the weekend.

Honorable mentions: Tyreek Hill, Mark Andrews, Tyler Huntley, Brandin Cooks, Amon-Ra St. Brown

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Kamara led the list of running backs with uninspiring Week 15 performances. He entered as Yahoo’s RB4 going up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and there were 42 running backs who scored better than he did. Kamara finished with just 5.10 total points on merely 13 touches from scrimmage. The Bucs defense, along with Saints quarterback Taysom Hill getting carries, hindered Kamara as he finished with 11 rushes for 18 yards.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Much of the same can be said about Mixon. The Bengals’ leading rusher was Yahoo’s RB5 entering the week and finished 34th in scoring. He mustered just 0.39 points per touch on 18 touches. Of his 60 yards from scrimmage, 77.6% came before contact. He had just as many negative rushes (one) as runs of 10 or more yards.

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
… Yup, you get the idea. Harris ranked Yahoo’s RB6 entering the slate and finished 47th in scoring. His 14 touches went for 26 yards against the Tennessee Titans with two negative rushes. He finished with a brutal 0.33 points per touch.

Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Pittman’s third-quarter ejection cost fantasy owners mightily Saturday night. Pittman, who was a top-25 play entering Week 15, finished in a tie for 88th in scoring among receivers. He recorded a seven-yard catch on the Colts’ first play and then didn’t register another one.

Honorable mentions: James Conner, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ja’Marr Chase, Dak Prescott

Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
Davis was added in 16% of Yahoo leagues leading up to Week 15, and if you’re an owner who immediately threw him in the starting lineup, you were treated to a great debut. Davis, who was Yahoo’s WR44 entering Week 15, finished as the third highest-scoring wideout in fantasy football behind Hill and Brandin Cooks. He concluded with 3.64 points per target on seven targets. He finished with five catches for 85 yards and 5.10 points per touch — which was the most of any player with more than one touch.

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots
Henry served as the Patriots’ biggest red zone threat, and he turned it into a week where he finished as the third tight end in points scored. Henry, who was Yahoo’s TE14 entering the week, caught a pair of touchdowns before finishing with 4.28 points per touch on six touches (25.70). For reference, it was the same point total as the highest-scoring running back. He totaled 77 total yards (62 air yards) with four receptions of 10 or more yards.

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