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Sunday Scaries: Week 15

Week 15 Matchups:

Miles Sanders vs. Joe Mixon +0.5

This story is all about TDs. In Miles Sanders' first forty (40!) games, he scored 12 TDs. In 13 games this season, he scored 11. On the season, Sanders is the RB12 in fantasy points per game, 5th in rushing yards, 5th in TDs, 8th in breakaway runs, 9th in true yards per carry, and has benefitted from the best game script. He's in a smash spot on Sunday against Chicago, where the Eagles are a projected 8.5-point road favorite against the Bears. The Bears' defense has struggled, and mightily as of late. They allow the 4th most fantasy points to opposing RBs. And the Eagles are projected to dominate the trenches as PFF grades Philadelphia at a 65% OL/DL advantage over Chicago. Sanders has finished as the RB3 overall or better in two of the last three weeks, so we've seen ceiling games from him as of late.

Joe Mixon returned from his concussion protocols last week and handled the majority of running back work for Cincinnati. There was a lot of chatter in the postgame aftermath about how much Samaje Perine was involved, but that would have been squelched if Mixon, and not Perine, had fallen in the endzone as Mixon still went 14-96 on the ground and caught 2 passes for 10 yards. We've seen ceiling games from Mixon this year, as he finished with 53 fantasy points in Week 9 against Carolina. But, the matchup isn't exactly ideal for Mixon on Sunday. The Buccaneers give up the 3rd fewest rush TDs and 7th fewest fantasy points to RBs.

Final Pick: Miles Sanders. The half-point juice isn't enough.

Juju Smith-Schuster vs. Michael Pittman +0.5

Joining the Chiefs on a 1-year deal this offseason, Juju Smith-Schuster has been the best WR fantasy option this season with Marquez Valdes-Scantling running wind sprints, Mecole Hardman spending time in the Injured Reserve, and the faceplanting of rookie 2nd round WR Skyy Moore. We've seen some solid ceilings from Juju on the season, as he's had four top-15 finishes, and three top-7 weekly finishes among WRs. And he seems to be fully recovered production-wise from the concussion he sustained against Jacksonville. Houston's secondary may grade poorly in most efficiency metrics, but they allow the 4th fewest fantasy points to WRs on the season. Slot corner Tavierre Thomas has played well for the Texans over the last six weeks, only allowing 7 receptions and 13 targets on 121 coverage snaps with a 60.7 PFF coverage grade.

Pittman had a tough game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13 before the bye. He finished as the WR75 and only caught 2 passes for 16 yards on 4 targets. We did see ceiling weeks for Pittman this season against plus matchups, however. In Week 1 against Houston, Pittman finished as the WR5. In Week 6 against Jacksonville, Pittman finished as the WR6 on the week. But the last three-week stretch has been brutal squaring off against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. The Minnesota secondary should be a breath of fresh air for Pittman. The Vikings allow the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing WRs and the most receiving yards. This is an outlier plus matchup.

Final Pick: Michael Pittman +0.5. We saw CeeDee Lamb fail to hit a ceiling against the Texans last week. While both games have 47.5 or higher projected game totals, the Chiefs may not need Juju much in the 2nd half.

Isiah Pacheco vs. Latavius Murray +1

Young vs. old. Rookie vs. Veteran. Pacheco vs. Murray. There's a 10-year difference in age between these two RBs.

Latavius Murray has yet again seen a resurgence in his career, handling double-digit carries in six of nine games this season. He's finished as the RB33 in all nine games this season, showing a nice floor due to his increasing volume after Javonte Williams' ACL tear, Melvin Gordon's release, and Mike Boone's IR stints. Murray projects to handle a large load in Week 15 against Arizona as backup Brett Rypien is the most likely candidate to start with Russell Wilson still working through the concussion protocol. There aren't many metrics to suggest a needle-moving matchup either way against Arizona. The argument for Murray is volume.

The rookie Isiah Pacheco has really come on strong over the last five weeks, leading the Chiefs in rushing and handling 13+ carries each of those games. Pacheco is RB22 in yards per touch and RB26 in both Breakaway runs and breakaway run rate on the season. He's a speed back with a 99th-percentile 40-yard combine. And this matchup against Houston is the juiciest of the week, as the Texans allow the most fantasy points to RBs on the season. The biggest question for Pacheco is: Can he access a ceiling with Jerick McKinnon also in the backfield? McKinnon has finished as the RB16 and RB1 over the last two weeks.

Final Pick: Isiah Pacheco. I'm not afraid of Jerick McKinnon's involvement. I'll lean toward the rookie in a very plus matchup where the Chiefs are 14.5-point favorites.

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Week 14 Update (3-0):

Tyreek Hill vs. Austin Ekeler +1.5. Tyreek Hill kept me sweating during this one. He recovered a fumble for a TD but also dealt with an ankle injury during this matchup. Somehow squeaked out a W.

CeeDee Lamb vs. Amon-Ra St. Brown +1. Lamb only went 5-33 in this game on 6 targets. Amon-Ra outscored him going 6-68. Another nice W.

D'Andre Swift vs. Jamaal Williams + 1.5. Swift was bad, but Williams had his worst game of the season & didn't fall into the end zone. 3-0 record this week.

Running Season Record: 27-15. - 64.3% correct on the season.

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