Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes will leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 15 Lames in the comments section below.
Not so ‘Money’ Mahomes bankrupting backers
Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB (98 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $36)
Matchup: vs. Den
Vegas Line/Total: KC -9.5, 45.5
I can already hear the backlash: “Mahomes a Lame?! During the fantasy playoffs?! Evans, you need to check yourself into Betty Ford, immediately.” Full disclosure, this viewpoint was written at hyper-speed while wearing one of these special holiday sweaters, but it’s a clearheaded and justified perspective.
Let’s call a spade a spade: Mahomes, a consensus Round 2 or Round 3 selection in 12-team drafts back in August, hasn’t pulled his weight, not even remotely close. The regression monster has dragged him under the surface after a historic 2018. Currently QB6 in overall production, he trails No. 1 Lamar Jackson by an astounding 6.3 fantasy points per game. Most alarming, he’s fallen shy of the 20-fantasy-point mark in seven of his past eight contests. QB23 since Week 4, Mahomes has been greatly outproduced by waiver gems Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Josh Allen. Yet his unwavering followers continue to stand by their man through thick and thin. Folks, let Mahomes’ downturn remind you to never, ever overpay for a passer post-career year.
So, why the dramatic drop-off? Mahomes’ adjusted completion percentage and deep passing numbers are in alignment with 2018. Pressure also hasn’t overwhelmed him. His clean pocket percentage has jumped 7.1 percent compared to last year. No, the reason for the slippage has everything to do with inefficiency near the goal line. Last season he ranked No. 14 in red-zone completion percentage. This year, he stands at No. 36.
This week, the now-dinged passer squares off with division rival Denver, a team he suffered a gnarly dislocated knee against earlier this year. The Broncos, led by DB Chris Harris, have given up just 6.9 pass yards per attempt, 228.8 pass yards per game, 1.2 passing touchdowns per game and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to QBs. Additionally top-five in total air yards and average depth of target (7.4) allowed, they’re not exactly a cakewalk matchup. Playing Ryan Tannehill (vs. Hou) or Jameis Winston (at Det) ahead of him isn’t lunacy.
Fearless Forecast: 274 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception, 12 rushing yards, 15.2 fantasy points
Hellish TD plight to continue for Saints’ Kamara?
Alvin Kamara, NO, RB (96% started; Yahoo DFS: $23)
Matchup: vs. Ind
Vegas Line/Total: NO -9, 45.5
The last time Kamara crossed the chalk (in Week 3), Marcus Mariota was the Titans’ starter, Will Dissly had taken the tight end position by storm, Case Keenum — yes that heap of bland — was the ninth-most valuable quarterback in fantasy and the Bengals were still in playoff contention. Heck, Jason Sanders has drilled something, like, 249 field goals since then. Yep, an eternity.
Pin the blame on the high-ankle sprain, Latavius Murray/Taysom Hill thorn, his general red-zone ineffectiveness or some voodoo curse, but the popular top-five overall pick’s end-zone determent is nothing short of flummoxing. His 3.22 yards after contact per attempt and 24.3 missed tackle rates prove his skills haven’t sharply eroded. He’s still the tough-to-lasso rusher he’s always been. But adding to the confusion, here’s a fact that will blow your mind: Hill has one fewer carry inside the five than Kamara. ONE! Maybe, Sean Payton is the culprit.
Don’t bank on a drastic turnaround on Monday night. The Saints host Indianapolis, a team which features a terribly underrated run defense. The Colts have surrendered 4.1 yards per carry, 122.4 total yards per game, six total touchdowns and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to RBs. Also slotting inside the top-10 in adjusted line yards and run-stuff percentage allowed according to Football Outsiders, they’re a tougher customer than most think. Justin Houston (15 run stops) and Anthony Walker (20) deserve much credit.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 51 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.7 fantasy points
Jets’ unforgiving D-line to deny Ingram
Mark Ingram, Bal, RB (86% started; Yahoo DFS: $28)
Matchup: vs. NYJ
Vegas Line/Total: Bal -15, 45
Right place. Right time. It may sound cliche, but the popular expression applies to Ingram in two instances. For his first eight pro seasons the rusher played along one of the most accurate and prolific passers in the game’s history, Drew Brees. Operating as the between-the-tackles hammer in Sean Payton’s high-scoring offense, he powered his way to quality numbers year after year. Now thrust into another favorable situation, this time alongside dual-scoring freak and MVP lock, Lamar Jackson, Ingram has reprised his role as nail driver. Equally blessed in both scenarios with top-shelf offensive lines, he’s benefited massively from circumstance. If only Joe Mixon were so lucky ...
Ingram, who’s generated 3.03 yards after contact per attempt, currently stands at RB9 in total fantasy scoring primarily due to goal-line conversions. On 16 carries inside the five, he’s bulled across the line eight times. Chipping in 83.7 total yards per game, he’s turned a sizable profit based on his August ADP.
This week, however, New York’s blockade awaits. The Jets, to some’s surprise, are the stiffest team in the league. They rank No. 1 in fewest yards per carry (2.9) and adjusted line yards (2.8) allowed. For fantasy devices, Steve McLendon and Co. have given up 111.5 total yards per game, 10 combined TDs and the 10th-fewest virtual points to the position.
The gigantic spread favors Ingram, but don’t expect a celebratory jig this week .
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 59 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.2 fantasy points
Not enough Don Julio shots to numb Jones’ pain
Julio Jones, Atl, WR (83% started; Yahoo DFS: $27)
Matchup: at SF
Vegas Line/Total: SF -11, 47
Patriots. Investigation. Video crew. When strung together in a sentence, these words are the least surprising development of the NFL season. A close second is Jones’ continued underuse inside the red zone. It’s bewildering. The man is a damn 6-foot-3 athletic marvel yet he has 21 red-zone targets on the season. The same number as James White?! Unless touchdowns suddenly rain down from the heavens over the regular season’s final three weeks, Julio will finish with single-digit scores for the eighth consecutive year. Speaking as a Jones backer in multiple formats, there’s much angst harbored.
With Richard Sherman sidelined by a hamstring injury and Calvin Ridley (7.3 tgts/g) toast, some would believe Jones is destined for a gargantuan Week 15. Though his prospects have brightened in light of those absences, he’s more likely to finish in among WR3s than ignite for WR1 numbers. San Francisco’s assertive pass rush combined with its pass D resourcefulness arrow to a depressed total for the formal All-Pro. Akhello Witherspoon (66.7 passer rating allowed) is quietly one of the best cover corners in the game and Sherman’s replacement, Emmanuel Moseley (82.5), impressed in a handful of starts earlier this season. Collectively, the Niners rank No. 1 in lowest aDOT (6.5) surrendered and No. 5 in fewest fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.
Toss in the rowdy road environment and it’s uh oh, Julio.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.9 fantasy points
Vikings WR to Diggs a fantasy hole in LA
Stefon Diggs, Min, WR (87% started; Yahoo DFS: $22)
Matchup: at LAC
Vegas Line/Total: Min -2.5, 44.5
Rostering Diggs this season feels like a three-times over teacup ride after throwing down about a dozen churros. Yep, completely nauseating. Some people can endure the constant spins. Others, like this weak-minded individual, chock said cookies when the constant whirl mercifully ends. After an early season adjustment due to Gary Kubiak’s conservative influence, the receiver flourished Weeks 4-8, topping 100 yards in four contests while chipping in three touchdowns. Since then, however, he’s been the epitome of inconsistency. Vanishing against KC, Dallas, and Seattle, he reappeared versus Denver and Detroit, snagging 11 passes for 213 yards and score.
Adam Thielen’s continued hiatus has drawn increased attention on Diggs. As a result, the Vikes have reverted to their run-happy ways and incorporated TEs Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith into the flow. Heck, even Olabisi Johnson has captured Kirk Cousins’ attention.
This week, Diggs could again fall on tough times. His opponent, the LA Chargers, rank second only to New England in fewest fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Third in aDOT (7.1) and second in total air yards surrendered, it’s an undesirable matchup. Throw in Diggs’ expected clash with blanket corner Casey Heyward (76.7 passer rating, 0.66 yards/snap allowed) and going a different direction becomes even more sensible. Chasing the upside of an A.J. Brown (vs. Hou), for example, is advisable.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 49 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7.4 fantasy points
BONUS LAMES (Over 50% started)
RB: Marlon Mack, Ind (NO -9; $21) – The beat track in Mark Morrison classic “Return of the Mack” is one of my favorites. So is the song’s pinnacle line, “You LIED to me.” For fantasy managers seeking hardware, Indy’s Mack isn’t the truth, at least not in Week 15. After last week’s San Francisco gashing, the Saints should get back to their stonewalling ways. This season, they’ve conceded 3.7 yards per carry, 67.5 rush yards per game, five rushing TDs and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. Mack did find the end zone in an undesirable matchup at Tampa last week, but his lackluster yardage output and pass-game limitations define him as “TD or bust.” Netting just 2.81 yards after contact per attempt, he won’t stumble into the end zone to save his fantasy day. (FF: 15-56-0, 5.6 fpts)
RB: Devin Singletary, Buf (Pit -2.5; $17) – Come Round 3 of 2020 drafts, Singletary will look irresistible. Chances are he’ll enter the season as the bellcow back on a fast-rising franchise with a mobile QB, plus offensive line and top-five defense as support. Terrific since wresting away bulk touches from Frank Gore, the rookie has bowled through initial contact (2.96 YAC/att), exhibited above-average wiggle (No. 9 in elusive rating) and flashed capable hands. Also No. 3 among RBs in yards created per carry, Singletary’s future is blindingly bright. This week, however, Pittsburgh is an ominous dark cloud. The Steelers have surrendered 3.8 yards per carry, 127.2 total yard per game, six combined TDs and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to rushers. Kareem Hunt and exhumed corpse, David Johnson, are the only backs to eclipse 10 fantasy points against them this year. (FF: 15-60-0-4-22-0, 10.2 fpts)
WR: Robby Anderson, NYJ (Bal -15; $17) – In what’s become an annual occurrence, Anderson is again owning December. Mowing through the meek over the past three weeks, he’s hauled in 18 passes for 303 yards and a pair of touchdowns, which shakes out to the seventh-most valuable WR line over the stretch. Was his accumulated production against basement-dwelling Ds responsible for the upsurge? Probably. Oakland, Cincinnati, and Miami each rank near the top in fantasy points allowed to WRs. On Thursday, the speedster could run over tire spikes. Baltimore has given up the 10th-most air yards, but much of its struggles came early in the season. Anderson’s projected assignment, Jimmy Smith, has yielded a 57.8 passer rating and 0.72 yards per snap. Even in a game where Sam Darnold may chuck it 40-45 times, Anderson is a modest-only play. (FF: 4-62-0, 8.2 fpts)
TE: Hunter Henry, LAC (Min -2.5; $18) – When it comes to the tight end position, unearthing value weekly is a task akin to fighting back hell with a water gun. For every Noah Fant explosion, there are a half dozen gut-wrenching disappointments. Since returning from injury, Henry has mostly delivered on his giant promise. In nine games he’s scored four times and crossed the 60-yard mark on five occasions. Deflating efforts have been infrequent, but his matchup this week is a tough one. The Vikings are a classic bend-don’t-break defense facing tight ends. Henry could easily post an employable yardage total, but only one TE has hit the pylon versus the Vikes this year — Denver’s Troy Fumagalli in Week 11. Good, not great, best sums up Henry’s Week 15 potential. (FF: 5-52-0, 7.7 fpts)
DST: Green Bay Packers (GB -4.5; $15) – Prior to Week 13, Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t defeat a chest-passing participant in a Dr. Pepper Challenge. His passes fluttered. His decision making stunk. He refused to run. Then, in unpredictable fashion, he flipped a switch. The Trubisky of last season resurfaced against Detroit and Dallas. In those contests, he completed 75.4% of his attempts, averaged 291.0 yards per game and posted a 7:2 TD:INT split. He also churned the legs, piling up 67 rush yards. With his confidence growing and given the Packers’ inadequacies defending the run (4.9 ypc allowed), the Cheeseheads are not the smart stream most anticipated a couple weeks back. Be leery. (FF: 23 PA, 391 YDSA, 3 SCK, 1 TO, 5.0 fpts)
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Lames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
Reader record: 41-50
Brad’s record: 82-60
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”