The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Grantland Fantasy Island Week 15 Previews

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I’m still participating in the Grantland Fantasy Island contest (kind of). I haven’t had much time to submit content lately, but I sent in about eight game previews this week. The good news is that one was published. The bad news is that ONE WAS PUBLISHED. It’s a little snippet of why DeMarco Murray is going to have a surprisingly big week against the Steelers.

Here are the rest of the previews. . .

Redskins @ Browns

Player to Start: Josh Gordon

In deep leagues, Gordon is worthy of consideration as a flex. With 42 receptions and a ridiculous 17.4 YPC, Gordon has cemented his status as Cleveland’s primary (and only) threat on the outside. He was targeted 12 times last week, and you could see a similar workload in Week 15. The Redskins have allowed more passing yards than all but one team in the NFL, and they don’t have a cornerback who can keep up with Gordon—not even DeAngelo Hall, who easily ranks in the top 100 cornerbacks in the NFL. Maybe.

Lions @ Cardinals

Player to Start: Mikel LeShoure

The Cardinals are really an anomaly of epic proportions; what are the chances that three NFL quarterbacks would have two left hands and all be on the same team? It’s really a shame, because Arizona actually has an outstanding defense. Their pass defense in particular is stout; only four teams have allowed fewer yards through the air. Their run defense is middle-of-the-pack in terms of efficiency, however, and since the Cardinals’ trio of left-handed signal-callers ensures they’ll be losing every game, the defense gets run on a whole lot. Look for Detroit to lean on Stafford-to-Tron to get a lead and then the running game to LeShoure up the victory.

Seahawks @ Bills

Player to Start: Marshawn Lynch

Don’t be scared away by Lynch’s recent minor back injury. The Seahawks confirmed they plan to continue to ride Beast Mode right on into the playoffs, and playing the Bills is heaven for any running back. Having allowed 4.8 YPC and a ridiculous 18 rushing touchdowns, Buffalo’s defense simply isn’t going to be able to stop Marshawn. You can pretty much bank on at least one score and a decent chance at multiple trips to pay-dirt for the man whose second-favorite activity, after scoring touchdowns for your fantasy team, is eating at Applebee’s.

Chiefs @ Raiders

Player to Start: Carson Palmer

Here’s something you already knew: Palmer is a horribly-mediocre quarterback. Here’s something you didn’t: he’s seventh in the NFL in passing yards and eighth in touchdowns. If your league deducts two points for picks, go ahead and keep Palmer on your bench. If you lose only one point per interception, though, you might want to consider the quarterback-formerly-known-as-good. He’ll face a Kansas City defense that has given up greater passing efficiency and more touchdowns through the air than all but two teams, i.e. you can mark Palmer down for two touchdowns and close to 300 yards.

Jaguars @ Dolphins

Player to Start: Reggie Bush

Bush just called out the Dolphins’ coaching staff, claiming his lack of receptions is “just a matter of the coaches calling it.” The game’s most-feared pass-catching running back is right that he’s been poorly utilized this season, but that is beginning to change. Bush had more third-down snaps than usual last week, and as a result he hauled in five catches. That will continue in the first half against Jacksonville, and Bush will add second-half carries when Miami is winning late. Look for Bush to see 20 touches and be of particular value to PPR owners.

Vikings @ Rams

Player to Start: Christian Ponder

Just Kidding.

Panthers @ Chargers

Player to Start: Steve Smith

In the past two games, Smith has averaged six grabs and 115 yards per contest. He’s quietly on pace for 74 catches and over 1,200 yards. Smith’s problem has been getting into the end zone, but two touchdowns is a low number for someone with Smith’s workload, even if he stands 5’9’’, 185-pounds. Smith’s career touchdown rate is 8.0 percent; in 2012, it’s 3.3 percent. While others will see that as a reason to avoid Smith, it really means the receiver should have closer to five touchdowns than two. If you’re correctly projecting S-Squared to possess around a 40 percent chance of scoring instead of 15 percent, he’ll make his way into your lineup.

Jets @ Titans

Player to Start: Jake Locker

Let me be clear that if you’re the type of owner that is at the point that you’re starting Jake Locker in the playoffs, you probably should just stop reading and forget about setting your lineup. Having said that, it’s worth noting that Locker is a mildly-effective fantasy quarterback because he can run. With 213 rushing yards in eight games this year, Locker’ per-game fantasy total is actually just behind passers like Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, and Philip Rivers. The point is that if you’re considering any of those guys, just go ahead and keep them in your lineup ahead of Locker. I mean, you can’t really start the guy.

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