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Week 15 Fantasy Football Winners & Losers | James Cook + More

Fantasy Football Winners & Losers: Week 15

by Steve Lawson

Well, that was something. The first week of the fantasy football playoffs in traditional leagues, treated us to some of the most inspired and painful performances we’ve seen this season. From monster touchdown totals to absolute vanishing acts, Week 15 had it all, and we are here to share with you the fantasy football winners and losers.

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Fantasy Football Winners & Losers: Week 15

Fantasy Football Winners

Sam LaPorta (TE, Detroit Lions)

This could actually just say the Lions’ offense, and we’d be fine with that. If you rostered almost any Detroit starter this week, you are thriving. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta or Jared Goff; it didn’t matter which you played because they were all elite.

However, LaPorta was the king of the mountain this week for the Lions and perhaps the most significant fantasy football winner. Catching three touchdowns, he was a key player in a ton of teams moving on in the fantasy football playoffs. As he has been all season, LaPorta showed that being a rookie tight end doesn’t mean you can’t succeed anymore. He is now firmly the Points Per Reception (PPR) TE3 on the season, where he sits within a point of Travis Kelce and four points from T.J. Hockenson for the position lead. The matchups might stiffen some down the stretch, traveling to Minnesota and Dallas next, but it matters less when you have someone as hot as LaPorta.

I don’t say this lightly, but he may well be the dynasty TE1.

Jaylen Waddle (WR, Miami Dolphins)

No Tyreek Hill? No problem for Jaylen Waddle. It seems the Jets are beginning to turn on Robert Saleh, and frankly, this defense shouldn’t have been shredded like they were. But they were, and Waddle was a major fantasy football winner in the process, posting eight receptions, 142 yards and a touchdown. This amounted to a massive scoring day of 28.7 Points Per Reception (PPR) fantasy points for “The Penguin,” his highest total of the season and just his second game above the 20 mark. Ahead of must-win games against Dallas, Baltimore and Buffalo, maybe this was enough to remind head coach Mike McDaniels of the damage Waddle can do opposite of Hill. If you rostered him, congratulations, and waddle on!

James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)

“Let James Cook!”

We got a massive output from a player who has done nothing but thrive since Joe Brady took over at offensive coordinator for the Bills. The Georgia product put up 179 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards and two touchdowns, totaling a career-high 36.1 PPR points. That’s a BEAST kind of week and makes Cook the RB3 on a points-per-game basis since Week 10 and the overall RB7 on the season. Cook will continue to flourish under Brady, and if Brady moves on to another offensive coordinator gig after this year, we now know he is a bell-cow kind of coach!

Rostering Cook was your first good choice; keeping him through the rough spells has proved to be the key! It’s another smash spot for Cook in Week 16 against the Chargers in Los Angeles before rounding out the fantasy football season with the Patriots at home.

Fantasy Football Losers

Bijan Robinson (RB, Atlanta Falcons)

This is Arthur Smith’s fault. He sucks at maximizing players for fantasy football purposes, and we all know it.

But Bijan Robinson has now suffered for his crimes, and so has everyone who rosters him. Seven carries for 11 yards and a fumble, plus one catch for three yards on three targets, resulted in Robinson scoring .4 PPR points and negative points in half-point and non-PPR formats.

He was subsequently benched after his fumble, meaning his day was a disaster. If you survived the Smith special, breathe a sigh of relief and pray he doesn’t do this shit again. The Colts and Bears are up next for the Falcons, both of which are top-six matchups for the position over the past month. Yet, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not Robinson will get the opportunity to exploit them.

Austin Ekeler (RB, Los Angeles Chargers)

What happened to Austin Ekeler? He looked great in Week 1 but has steadily declined since then. So much so that he made this fantasy football losers list in Week 7 and could have been nominated for any of his four single-digit PPR-Point performances since. Now he looks like a shell of that dynamic player he has been since becoming a featured player for the Chargers in 2019. He’s averaging a career-low 3.6 Yards Per Carry (YPC) and 36 receptions per game, his lowest mark since 2018.

An ankle injury caused him to miss three weeks. Did he come back too soon? Who knows, but this is awful to watch, and the Chargers are equally as awful to watch, ultimately leading to Brandon Staley’s firing after Thursday Night’s 63-21 loss to the Raiders.

Without Keenan Allen active, you’d expect Ekeler to be a PPR nightmare, even with Easton Stick at QB. He was, just not for opponents. With the Bills and Broncos both becoming negative matchups for RBs over the past month, fantasy managers who survived have to seriously consider benching Ekeler moving forward.

Derrick Henry (RB, Tennesee Titans)

Derrick Henry is… well, not the same player he used to be. Granted, the Tennessee offensive line never got going this season, but Henry just looks a step slower. And in the NFL, one step is everything.

Is this the end of Henry altogether? Probably not… probably. But I don’t feel he’s a top-24 player like he was drafted to be. Now, could he turn it around if he signs with a team with a great line and a lack of running back skill? Maybe. But with no receiving production, his upside looks increasingly capped without the 20+ carries per game he averaged the past four seasons.

No disrespect to “The King,” but time is undefeated. And when you’ve put the miles on your body like he has, carrying a sorry-ass franchise like the Titans, your body breaks down. Henry now has five performances this season of single-digit PPR points and is becoming more touchdown-dependent by the game. Fantasy managers will remember that stink if they choose to play him in either Week 16 or 17.

Not What It Seems: Fantasy Football Panic Meter

The following players were fantasy disappointments in Week 15, but my concern is low moving forward:

The following players were disappointments in Week 15, and I am concerned about moving forward:

Thanks for reading my Week 15 fantasy football winners and losers. I hope you have enjoyed yourself, and keep an eye out for entertainment and fantasy content from me here at In-Between Media (IBT)! For more entertainment and sports takes, find me on Twitter, @Steve_Lawson93.

*Photo Credit: Bill Streicher – USA TODAY Sports*

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