Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills
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I did not have a great day Sunday. Though the week is not over, it looks like my season is finished in all but three leagues, despite entering the week with eight teams still playing for something. 

I've still got those three leagues left to play for in Week 16 (and hopefully, Week 17), but my Fantasy season is now dangerously close to being finished. And there isn't any one player I can blame for it: Puka Nacua let me down in a few spots, as did Antonio Gibson in a few more; Josh Jacobs and Keenan Allen's injuries put me in a bind in three of the leagues where I lost, too. If I had to pin my losses this week on one player more than any other, though, it's probably Josh Allen, who had his worst Fantasy game of the season at the worst possible time.

What's funny about that, of course, is that Allen was my No. 1 QB this week under the assumption that the Bills would put up a bunch of points in a shootout with the Cowboys, and well, I was half right; the Bills dropped 30 on the Cowboys only the third team to reach that mark. The problem is, they did it on the strength of their running game and their defense, with Allen attempting just 15 passes – he completed seven of them, and after the game likened his performance to "the kid that didn't do anything in the class group project and got an 'A'." 

It was a heck of a performance by Buffalo, but it came at the worst possible time for those of us with Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalton Kincaid in our starting lineups. It's been a brutal Fantasy season for injuries, but that high-end trio made it to the Fantasy playoffs healthy only to fall well short of expectations at a crucial moment.

That's a tough break. I hope you survived it. I hope you benefited from uncharacteristic performances by Tee Higgins and Chris Godwin and Devin Singletary. I hope you've still got something to play for, and a reason to read this newsletter for Week 16. And if so, well … you're probably gonna need some more help to get through next week's games, too.

In my preview of the Week 16 waiver wire Sunday night, I wrote about key injuries to Ja'Marr Chase, Zack Moss, and Michael Pittman during Saturday's trio of games, and of course, those didn't end up being the only injuries of the week. It wasn't an awful day of injuries Sunday, at least not until the nightcap, when Keaton Mitchell suffered a gruesome, likely season-ending knee injury and Trevor Lawrence suffered a concussion late in the game, putting his availability for Week 16 into question.

Mitchell's is the more severe injury of the two, and it's just devastating. Mitchell has been one of the more fun out-of-nowhere breakouts of the season, consistently making big plays for the Ravens despite never getting the kind of workload we all wanted. That workload might have never come, but now it definitely won't, and he could have a long recovery ahead of him that puts his breakout appeal for 2024 in doubt, too. Gus Edwards ended up with 16 carries Sunday, his most in a game since October, and he could be a TD-or-bust RB2/3 in Weeks 16 and 17 against the 49ers and Dolphins, but his upside just isn't as high as Mitchell's could have been. It's a bummer.

As for Lawrence: We've counted him out early in the week on two separate occasions only to see him play this season, so we can't rule him out. But a concussion isn't the kind of thing you can just tough out; Lawrence is in the concussion protocol and will have to be cleared before he can play. That may happen in Week 16, but we can't assume it. That means we have to prepare for the possibility of a C.J. Beathard start, and that means a downgrade across the board in what looks like a very good matchup otherwise in Week 16 vs. the Buccaneers. Deciding whether you can trust Calvin Ridley, Evan Engram, and Zay Jones with Beathard starting is going to be one of the key storylines of Week 16. 

But we'll get to that in due time, beginning in tomorrow's newsletter, when I unveil my first Week 16 rankings. For now, we're looking back on Week 15 one more time, with my typical winners and losers newsletter. One thing you'll notice today, is I'm trying to view things with an eye on 2024 as much as the next few weeks now because there's only so much that can change at this point. So, why not start to think about 2024. In those leagues where I've already been eliminated, that's easy. 

Biggest winners and losers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 3: Quarterback Jordan Love #10 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates the win mid-field following an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on December 3, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. USATSI

Here's who has the arrow pointing up or down coming out of Sunday's action:


The Fantasy Football Community's Season-Long Vendetta Against Arthur Smith

The Fantasy Football world is rarely unified in anything, but the collective dislike of Arthur Smith's approach has been refreshing – and, from Smith's public comments, the feeling is mutual. Whether you want to pin the blame entirely on Smith or not, there's no question that Altanta's offense remains one of the biggest disappointments in the league. They've got a top-10 pick at RB, WR, and TE, and yet they don't even have a top-10 player at any of those positions – and the bar is still very low at TE. I hate to call for anyone to get fired, so I'll just say that I hope the Falcons' 9-7 loss to the Panthers of all teams Sunday serves as a wake-up call to this franchise. Whether they need a better coach or a better QB (or, perhaps, a combination of both), there's just no way a team with legitimate playoff aspirations can look at this loss and think they don't need a significant shakeup. Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London combined for 75 yards and 11.5 PPR points this week. Let's hope this is rock bottom. 

James Cook, RB, Bills

I don't think the takeaway here should be that Ken Dorsey was holding the Bills back, or anything, but the change in Cook's value since Dorsey's firing has been stark. In four games since, Cook is averaging 141 yards from scrimmage per game, with 16 catches and three receiving touchdowns. He's still coming off the field near the goal line, which might only be the difference between him finishing the season as an RB1 vs. as one of the best players in Fantasy. Cook is now third in the league in scrimmage yards for the season, despite his inconsistent usage. He's a special player, one who is proving he can be one of the best players in Fantasy if the Bills use him that way. With matchups against the hapless Chargers and Patriots on the way, he might just carry you to a Fantasy championship. 

Ty Chandler, RB, Vikings

The Vikings have struggled to get the running game going this season, and while that's certainly not the most important thing in Kevin O'Connell's offense, it would have been nice to pivot to when the offense has struggled in a post-Kirk Cousins world. Making his first start in Week 15 with Alexander Mattison sidelined by an ankle injury, Chandler put together the best game by a Vikings running back since Dalvin Cook, rushing for 132 yards on 23 carries and adding 25 yards on three catches in the passing game. Chandler dominated playing time, logging 81% of the snaps for the Vikings, and was ripping off chunks of yards every time he touched the ball. I think it's unlikely the Vikings will just put Mattison on the bench after Chandler's big game, but I do think Chandler seems like a near-certainty for double-digit carries moving forward, and may just be the lead back here. At the very least, he looks like a must-start player if Mattison can't go in Week 16 against the Lions

Jordan Addison, WR, Vikings

One of the theories for why Addison would be the best rookie wide receiver among those picked in the first round came down to the situation. He was going to step onto the field as the No. 2b option in a high-volume passing game, with Justin Jefferson demanding a ton of defensive attention. Addison was unexpectedly thrust into WR1 duties as a rookie when Jefferson went down, and while he had his moments, there's no question it was a tough assignment. Saturday, we saw what a comfortable Addison could do with Jefferson drawing the eyes of the defense away – six catches on six targets, 111 yards, and two touchdowns. He can't replicate that kind of efficiency every week, but it's a nice reminder of what Addison is capable of under the right circumstances. There are going to be questions this offseason about the Vikings QB spot, but if they have anyone competent, Addison is going to be a popular breakout candidate. 

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins

Waddle hasn't been bad this season, but there's no question he's been a bit of a disappointment, ranking as WR28 in PPR scoring per game entering Week 15 – made all the more frustrating by the fact that Tyreek Hill is having a historically great season in the same offense. That Waddle has dealt with a few nagging injuries throughout the season hasn't helped matters. But Sunday against the Jets was a reminder that, yeah, he might not be Tyree Hill. But Waddle is still one of the league's most dynamic playmakers in his own right, and he's always capable of a 28-PPR-point effort. You draft him as a WR2 with gigantic upside, and that's more or less what he's been. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers

There's been a lot of profit to be found in Tampa's offense for Fantasy this year, with Rachaad White and Mike Evans having top-10 RB and WR seasons in an offense that too many analysts and players were too confident wouldn't be any good. However, Godwin's 2023 season has been a real struggle, as he was outside the top 50 in per-game scoring entering Sunday. Godwin has struggled to get on the same page as Baker Mayfield consistently enough, and he's also really struggled with injuries, too. And then he goes out and has his best game of the season by far this week when it wasn't even clear he was going to play – he missed the first two days of practice this week with a knee injury before getting out there Friday. I've been too high on Godwin all season, and I'll admit, I didn't see a 10-catch, 155-yard performance coming from him this week, certainly. But, this is another one where, while it may be too late for him to have helped most of the people who drafted him, we got a nice reminder that Godwin is still very much capable of being a difference maker. I'll be buying low next season, too. 

Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions

LaPorta is going to single-handedly ruin rookie tight ends for a whole generation of Fantasy players because you are not supposed to do what he has done as a rookie. Tight ends are effectively learning two positions at the same time at the NFL level, and yet LaPorta ranks second in receptions, third in yards, and first in touchdowns among all rookies, not just tight ends – he's got 10 more catches, 264 more yards, and seven more touchdowns than Dalton Kincaid, who is having a fine rookie season of his own. Obviously, this week was a bit of an outlier, with LaPorta scoring three touchdowns, but he's also now just the third tight end ever with 200-plus PPR points in his rookie season, and he still has three more games to add to that total. Georgia TE Brock Bowers may be a better prospect than LaPorta was, but if you're expecting him to replicate what LaPorta did this season, you might end up disappointed. 


Sam Howell, QB, Commanders

Ron Rivera gave Sam Howell the vote of confidence after Sunday's game, but there's no way any Fantasy player can have any confidence in him at this point. Howell was benched mid-way through Sunday's game against the Commanders after going 11 for 26 for 102 yards, and the offense immediately came to life with Jacoby Brissett at QB. It's not that long ago that there was talk that the Commanders might have found their long-term starter in Howell, but he has two touchdowns to six interceptions through the air over the past four games, and now faces the Jets and 49ers defenses to close out the Fantasy season. Howell has been one of the better stories at the QB position for much of the year, but now I'm not sure if the Commanders will even give him the job for 2024. They might be clearing house, top-to-bottom, here. 

Antonio Gibson, RB, Commanders

I ranked Gibson as an RB2 like everyone else in Week 15, but I did note in our pre-game stream Sunday morning that I was concerned his role might not change as much as hoped with Brian Robinson out. Rightly or wrongly, the Commanders coaching staff just doesn't seem to view Gibson as a trustworthy three-down back, and they went to little-used rookie Chris Rodriguez ahead of Gibson in the running game Sunday – Gibson ended up with his fairly typical four carries Sunday. I still think Gibson is an intriguing talent, and he'll be 25 when the offseason opens, so hopefully he lands somewhere with a coaching staff that is more willing to give him a chance. But this is almost certainly the last time we ever trust him in a Commanders uniform. 

D'Onta Foreman, RB, Bears

Given how tough the Browns are to run against, it's not surprising that the Bears leaned on Roschon Johnson a bit more heavily Sunday in a pass-heavy script. What is hard to make sense of is Khalil Herbert's increased role. Last week, Foreman was the clear lead back for the Bears, playing 55% of the snaps and running it 11 times; Herbert played 17% of the snaps and had just three touches. Sunday, however, Herbert matched Foreman with six carries each, and even had a reception, while Foreman didn't earn a target; Herbert also played 17 snaps to Foreman's 16, while Johnson led the team with 36. This is a gross three-way split with no clear hierarchy, and you're better off avoiding this backfield entirely moving forward. 

George Pickens, WR, Steelers

Given their obvious playcalling and coaching deficiencies, plus their QB issues, I think it's fair to say we don't know how good Pickens can be yet. But it increasingly feels like the Steelers aren't going to have him around long enough to find out. He hasn't been put in the doghouse yet, but Pickens has received pointed criticism from coaches in Pittsburgh this season, and his effort on a block on a key running play near the end zone earned special attention following Saturday's game. Pickens is a talented player, and his frustration with his usage in Pittsburgh is understandable. But this situation isn't getting any better anytime soon, and this feels kind of like Elijah Moore last year, where the team might be willing to move on from a talented player after a difficult season where the fit just doesn't seem right. That might not be a bad thing for Pickens' Fantasy appeal, but it's hard to see how he turns it around in Pittsburgh as things stand. 

Rashid Shaheed, WR, Saints

With Chris Olave out with an ankle injury and Shaheed back after missing a few games, it seemed like a perfect situation for Shaheed to turn his occasional glimpses of big-play ability into something more. Unfortunately for those of you who rolled the dice on him, Shaheed failed to do much of anything, catching just three passes on four targets for 36 yards. Now, just because Shaheed flopped in this opportunity doesn't mean he can't take on an expanded role and be more than just a boom-or-bust guy. But he certainly didn't pass this audition, and we'll be viewing him with much more skepticism if Olave is out in Week 16.