Week 15 fantasy football winners and losers

As we do each week, we recap the week's winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks of the week's best and worst.


Todd Gurley II, RB, Los Angeles Rams: What a thoroughly dominating performance, and one that looks all the more impressive considering it came against a Seattle Seahawks defense that hadn't allowed more than 19.3 non-PPR or 22.3 PPR fantasy points in a game and had allowed averages of 15.2 (third-fewest) and 19.7 (fourth-fewest) in those respective scoring systems to opposing running backs entering the week. Gurley's 45.0 PPR and 42.0 non-PPR fantasy points set new career highs for the third-year running back, and the latter was the best single-game score by any individual player all season -- the 45.0 PPR points were third-best behind only Julio Jones' 50.8 in Week 12 and Kareem Hunt's 45.6 in Week 1. Remarkably, Gurley did it despite not tallying a single carry in the game's final 22 minutes, after his Rams had a 40-0 lead. With those scores, Gurley recaptured the seasonal lead in PPR fantasy points among running backs, his 333.7 giving him a 12.8 point advantage over Le'Veon Bell (320.9), and he now has a massive lead at the position in non-PPR points (279.7, 38.8 more than Bell).

Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Where has that been for the past two months? Hunt scored 39.6 PPR fantasy points on Saturday night, the second-best total of his rookie season behind only his 45.6 in the Week 1 NFL Kickoff game. In doing so, he became just the fourth player since 1950 to score at least 39.6 twice during his rookie season, joining Gale Sayers (1965), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Adrian Peterson (2007). However, each of the other three reached the 40-point plateau in both games. Hunt now has 265.1 PPR fantasy points for the season, which is already 28th-best among rookie running backs in history (though note that Alvin Kamara already has more with 273.6), and his 216.1 non-PPR fantasy points is also 28th-best (but ahead of Kamara's total). Considering Hunt scored a combined 52.4 non-PPR and 62.4 PPR fantasy points in Weeks 14-15, which represent the two-week, semifinal matchup in standard ESPN leagues, it's a fair guess that many of his teams already in the fantasy playoffs -- that's 53.4 percent of ESPN leagues -- will also qualify for their championship matchups beginning in Week 16.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Make it 18 career games with at least 30 fantasy points. That gives Newton sole possession of third place at his position on the all-time list, as he scored 31.48, most among quarterbacks during the 1 p.m. ET games. Only Drew Brees (20) and Tom Brady (19) have had more 30-plus-point performances in their careers, but keep in mind that Brees had only two and Brady one before their 29th birthdays, and Newton won't turn 29 years old until May 11. Newton was started in 70.9 percent of ESPN leagues, fifth-most among quarterbacks in Week 15.

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: What a season Ingram is having. He reached the 30-point PPR fantasy plateau for the third time in 2017, with his 32.1 on Sunday setting a new career high. In the process, he pushed his season totals to 253.0 PPR and 202.0 non-PPR fantasy points, both of which also helped him set new personal bests. Ingram was started in 97.9 percent of ESPN leagues, fourth-highest among running backs in Week 15.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: His 28.9 PPR and 22.9 non-PPR fantasy points on Saturday night paled in comparison to Hunt's totals, but they were still excellent and the fifth-best single-game totals in his three-year, 41-game NFL career. Gordon, who is on playoff rosters in 52.7 percent of ESPN leagues (seventh-highest percentage among running backs) has given his teams an excellent chance at reaching the finals.

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Was that Carson Wentz under center for the Eagles on Sunday? Judging by Foles' numbers, it'd be understandable if you thought so, as Foles scored 25.48 fantasy points in his first start since 2016 Week 9 (then for the Chiefs). It was his sixth-best single-game total in his 37 career starts, and while it did come against a New York Giants defense that has allowed a league-high six games of at least 25 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, it did bode well for Foles and the Eagles moving forward. He gets another outstanding matchup against the Oakland Raiders in Week 16, and Foles, who was started in just 22.9 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday, remains available in 54.8 percent.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers: There's the Greg Olsen we've been waiting for in fantasy, as he scored 26.6 PPR points on Sunday, the best among tight ends in the 1 p.m. ET games and his biggest single-game total since 2016 Week 5. Yeah, that was 16 games ago. Coincidentally, 2016 Week 5 was the last time he caught as many as the nine passes he did on Sunday (he also caught nine in that game). Olsen, who was drafted in 100.0 percent of ESPN leagues and 46th overall on average but was on rosters in only 81.9 percent and started in only 22.8 percent on Sunday, now looks like a much stronger start heading into a favorable matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: What has gotten into Bortles? Often criticized for his mistake-prone play, the fourth-year quarterback has been excellent in fantasy for four weeks running, with the most recent three especially uncharacteristic. He scored 25.04 fantasy points on Sunday, but 23.12 of those came with the Jaguars ahead on the scoreboard. He has now scored 52.04 of his 68.62 fantasy points in the past three weeks with his team leading. To put that into perspective, consider that only 58.92 of Bortles' 271.10 fantasy points in all of 2016 came with his team ahead on the scoreboard. He was started in a season-high 18.9 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday but remains available in 61.8 percent. Keep this in mind: He faces the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 and Tennessee Titans in Week 17, a pair of favorable matchups to conclude his regular season.

Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Most impressive about Bortles' performance on Sunday was that he did it without Allen Robinson (IR, knee) and Allen Hurns (ankle), as well as Marqise Lee (ankle) for all but 12 plays from scrimmage to begin the game. With Lee sidelined, Cole was thrust into a starring role, and Mickens stepped into the spotlight, as well. The former scored 31.6 PPR fantasy points (most among wide receivers during the 1 p.m. ET games) and the latter tallied 22.1. Both scores helped the duo shatter their previous personal bests, but few fantasy teams capitalized, as Cole resided on 1.13 percent of ESPN rosters and was started in just 0.33 percent of leagues, while Mickens' respective percentages were both 0.01. Depending upon Lee's status for Weeks 16 and 17, Cole and Mickens are names you might need to know, as they'll also benefit from the aforementioned favorable matchups if pressed into starting duty.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: In this huge year for rookie running backs, McCaffrey's performance has fallen a bit beneath the radar. However, he has been excellent in PPR scoring leagues, and his 25.6 in that format on Sunday gave him a new career high and pushed him past 200 for the season, as he now has 210.4. McCaffrey caught six passes on Sunday to give him 73 for the season, putting him on pace for 83. Reggie Bush holds the rookie running back record for receptions with 88, set in 2006.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants: For the first time in his 26 career NFL games, Shepard reached the 30-point plateau in fantasy using PPR scoring, his 30.9 ranking second-best among wide receivers during the 1 p.m. ET games. Both that and his 19.9 non-PPR fantasy points helped him set new personal bests and extended what has been a pattern of excellence against the division-rival Eagles. Three of Shepard's five best fantasy performances have now come against the Eagles: Sunday's game, his 26.3 PPR/19.3 non-PPR in 2017 Week 3 and his 12.3/19.3 in 2016 Week 16. He also scored 11.0/14.0 against them in 2016 Week 9. Shepard, who remains available in 30.2 percent of ESPN leagues, might escape shadow coverage from Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson in Week 16 thanks to his slot-receiver role (though that remains to be seen).

Robbie Gould, K, San Francisco 49ers: What a run he has been on since Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback. With Garoppolo moving the 49ers' offense with much greater ease than his predecessors, Gould has scored at least 15 fantasy points in each of his past three games, culminating in a best-among-kickers 24 on Sunday. It exceeded Gould's previous career best by five points, and it earned him a tie for the seventh-best single-game effort by any placekicker since 1960.

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: He scored 27.5 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, marking the fourth consecutive week that he scored at least that many. That's only the 18th time since 1950 that any player has managed a streak of at least that length, and Bell joined Ricky Williams (2000 Weeks 6-9 and 2002 Weeks 11-14) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2003 Weeks 14-17 and 2006 Weeks 6-15) as the only players with multiple streaks at least that long. Despite Bell's big game, he lost his command of the top-scoring spot among running backs for the season, as mentioned above.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: For the 19th time in his career, Gronkowski scored at least 25 PPR fantasy points, his 27.8 leading all tight ends entering Sunday Night Football. In NFL history, only Tony Gonzalez (22) had more 25-point performances in his career than Gronkowski, who has played 100 games to Gonzalez's 270.


Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks: For the second consecutive week he was practically invisible, as Graham followed up his scoreless-on-two-targets Week 14 with 0.9 PPR fantasy points on three targets on Sunday. Using non-PPR scoring, Graham's game was worth minus-0.1 points, meaning that he was held scoreless or worse in back-to-back games in that format for the first time since 2010 Weeks 2-3, which were the first two games of his NFL career. He was started in 84.8 percent of ESPN leagues, fourth-highest among tight ends.

Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers: Few things are more frustrating in fantasy than seeing your player's quarterback with 31.48 points, only to find out that his No. 1 wide receiver scored a mere 2.9 PPR fantasy points on four targets. Olsen, mentioned above, was Newton's target of choice on Sunday, an odd development considering the opposing Green Bay Packers' seasonal difficulty reining in opposing wide receivers (36.1 points per game allowed entering the week, fifth-most) compared to tight ends (9.3, second-fewest). Assuming Funchess' fantasy teams find a way to get into the championship round, he'll face an even more favorable Week 16 matchup against the Buccaneers, who entered the week allowing the most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (41.7).

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers: The Chiefs certainly seem to have his number, limiting Rivers to just 7.08 fantasy points on Saturday night. That was Rivers' eighth consecutive game of fewer than 15 fantasy points against the Chiefs, and five resulted in fewer than 10 points. He has averaged just 9.4 fantasy points per game against his division rival during that eight-game span. For his career, he has averaged just 12.6 fantasy points against the Chiefs, his third-worst average against any AFC opponent (he has faced each of them at least four times).

Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins: He has provided frustratingly inconsistent weekly totals during the past month, his 1.8 PPR fantasy points on four targets on Sunday representing his third game in his past four with fewer than five points. Davis, the 11th-most-started tight end in ESPN leagues in Week 15 (32.8 percent), is now difficult to trust despite facing a favorable matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 16.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: His was a matchup nightmare, as he went head-to-head against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, plus drew double-coverage on a good number of his snaps played, but Andy Dalton's performance didn't help matters. Green scored just 5.0 PPR fantasy points on four targets in the game, continuing his season-long trend of struggling against top cover corners and elite pass defenses. He was started in 93.7 percent of ESPN leagues, seventh-highest among wide receivers, meaning that he has been a top-10-started wide receiver in both of the standard first-round playoff weeks. Green probably cost his teams a good share of matchups, and things might not improve much in Week 16 as he draws Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay in coverage.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: With Aaron Rodgers back in action on Sunday, Nelson became a much more popular fantasy start. His percentage leapt from 21.5 in Week 14 to 63.3 in Week 15, the latter landing him in the top 25 at the position. Unfortunately, things didn't play out as expected, as he scored just 5.8 PPR fantasy points on six targets, a considerably worse output than that of fellow Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (16.7 points on seven targets). Adams suffered a concussion, so Nelson might be pressed into duty as Rodgers' go-to guy in Week 16, but bear in mind that he'll draw a terrible matchup against the aforementioned Rhodes in that game.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers: For the first time since moving into the starting lineup in Week 11, Williams suffered a poor performance in fantasy, his 3.0 points by far the worst in any of his five starts to date. Though some of it can be explained by Rodgers' return to the lineup causing the offense to fall into a state of adjustment, it bears mentioning that Aaron Jones (6.3 PPR points) had a greater score on only four touches and 16 fewer snaps played (Williams 42, Jones 26, per Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke). Williams, who was started in 72.1 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15, is a matchups concern and could also be a workload concern heading into Week 16 against the Vikings.

Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: Though he hardly had an easy matchup against the Jags, Miller's 5.3 PPR fantasy points on 11 touches were surely disappointing to those who started him in 57.1 percent of ESPN leagues. That represented his worst single-week score since 2016 Week 13 (2.8), and his nine carries were a season low.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: After putting forth a solid score facing one of his toughest matchups in Week 14, Baldwin flopped on Sunday, scoring just 1.6 PPR fantasy points on four targets. Remarkably, only three times previously in his 108 career games did he have fewer, and two of those came in 2011, within the first six games of his career. Baldwin was started in 89.1 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 15, eighth-highest among wide receivers.

Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Only one other time this season did Hyde score fewer than his 5.9 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, that being his 2.8-point Week 5. Of greater concern, though, was his 1.6 yards-per-carry average in this game, which was the fifth-worst in any of his 48 career games and represented his eighth of 14 games played this season with an average beneath 3.5 (four have been beneath 2.5). Hyde, whose 84.8 start percentage in ESPN leagues was 10th-highest among running backs in Week 15, now faces a dreadful matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16. It's fair to question whether he's even a low-end RB2 for that matchup.