By: Tyler Jesih @ffbreakroom
Updated: 12/17/2017

Week 15 Home

Perfect Fantasy Lineup Predictions
Week 15

Phil Hellmuth is known as the “poker brat”, and dually, one of the most profitable and successful professional poker players of all time.

Why do they call him the “poker brat”? It’s very simple. Any YouTube search of his extensive rants would prove to provide a series of him whining, cursing, and making a fool of himself on national television in poker tournaments. He was featured in Jon Bois’ highly popular series “pretty good” as well, highlighting that, no matter how hard Hellmuth believes he can change his luck, he is powerless to the cards he is dealt.

I bring Hellmuth into the perfect lineup prediction article because of a quote… and the relevance it has to our fantasy football endeavors.

“If there wasn’t luck involved, I would win every time.”

Now, Phil is obviously referencing his poker luck here. But, something feels oddly… close to home.

Fantasy Football advice is a calculation of luck. It’s a gamble. And sometimes no matter how much draft day / weekly research you put in, you are just going to lose.

Further proving this point of sometimes it doesn’t matter the moves you’ve made, the players you take, or the guys you start, here’s the story of my league this year.

A league with some of my good friends was down 1 player this past offseason, and we invited someone new to fantasy football that we all grew up with. We didn’t think he would even pay attention to it, and honestly I thought his buy-in was essentially a donation to the league.

Our suspicions of him not doing any prior fantasy research were confirmed on draft day. He had the 4th pick in the draft and took… Tom Brady. We all laughed. He drafted a defense way too early, a backup kicker. It was a mess.

He went all year barely setting his lineup, making a few waiver moves, and he actually squeaked into the second to last spot in the playoffs. He played the number 2 seed this week. And beat him…The league is currently shocked as he makes his playoff run with players featured on the starting lineup like: Demarco Murray, Alex Collins (Surprisingly good waiver move from the rook), Torrey Smith, Sammy Watkins, and Julius Thomas.

Now, our rookie here had a great week from a few of these guys, allowing him to beat the #2 seed in the league with ease. But, this #2 seed rolled all year, going 9-4 in the regular season, he did the research, made smart draft day decisions, set his lineup all year… and it DIDN’T MATTER? This guy drafted Tom Brady in the first round, and beat someone who actually knew what they were doing? Absurd. Call it the “Luck Factor”, if you will. I liken it to a kind of “Fantasy Football Predestination”. The NFL’s randomness coincides with fantasy football’s randomness… and this causes a rook with no skill to beat a season fantasy football veteran, all bases on a lucky week.

Point I’m making: Fantasy Football is a series of random actions. Random actions that lead to random events. We try to calculate stats to predict these events, but you just can’t predict a random guy from the bench will run for an 80 yard touchdown.

It’s calculated luck… and we just can’t fix our luck on our own. The more skilled players should win because of all the research they put in, but luck comes into play and outweighs any skill you may have. So, because luck will always be a factor, skill does not always win. Thanks for helping me prove that point, Hellmuth.

Now the randomness is present every single week in fantasy football, and for just a small sample size of this, avert your eyes to Week 14’s Perfect Fantasy Lineup:

PPR Scoring
QB: Ben Roethlisberger (28.7) (vs BAL)
**RB: Le’Veon Bell (39.5)** (vs BAL)
RB: Rod Smith (33) (vs NYG)
WR: DeAndre Hopkins (35.9) (vs SF)
WR: Antonio Brown (32.3) (vs BAL)
TE: Trey Burton (24.1) (vs LAR)
K: Chris Boswell (19) (vs BAL)
D/ST: Broncos (16) (vs NYJ)
(Bolded players appeared in last weeks perfect lineup article).

Not a surprising pattern, but when an offense is rolling, every single player benefits. Obvious with this Pittsburgh offense. Admittedly, I believed my hometown team would just feed Bell the whole game without second thoughts. I thought Brown’s workload would decrease this game, and yet it seems the entire offense was firing on all cylinders.

But, who would have predicted a top 2 game for Rod Smith? What kind of lucky, fortune telling, fantasy miracle is this? This is where the Hellmuth quote / my league story comes into play. Who in their right mind started this guy in the fantasy playoffs? His 81 yard touchdown surely gave some lackluster opponents you faced an edge, and probably left you scratching you head. That’s the dumb play that would eliminate a smart player from a league. Rod Smith? RB #2? If only luck wasn’t involved…

In a response to last weeks article, and every perfect lineup article from me moving forward, I am merely predicting breakout candidates that could land certain players on that weeks “perfect lineup”.

I was not saying last week that Marvin Jones was at the top of my rankings for WR. Merely, that if I were predicting a breakout candidate to overtake the obvious top performers and have a great week, it was Marvin Jones Jr. (9.4 PPR points. Almost.)

“Why don’t you just name the article ‘breakout performers’, smart one?”
— Because I type the article, wise guy… and where’s the fun in that when you can just continue completely missing on picking a perfect lineup every week? (Hey, I got one pick right last week. Cut me some slack).

Perfect Fantasy Lineup Predictions for Week 15

QB: Ben Roethlisberger (vs NE)

Big Ben comes off a 506 yard, 2 touchdown game against the Ravens. On the contrary, the Patriots defense comes off an embarrassing primetime performance. You may think the Patriots defense has revamped themselves in the second half of the season, in reality Matt Patricia’s defense has had a cupcake schedule for the past 5 weeks (Den, Oak, Mia, Buf, Mia). Anyone watching MNF this past week saw Jay Cutler… (yes, JAY CUTLER?) shredding a poor Patriots defense, putting up a top 5 performance in the process. Ben takes on the Patriots D at Heinz field, where he averages almost 70 more yards per week (obviously inflated by this past week against the Ravens). Give me Big Ben at home this week, with all the odds in his favor for a huge week.

Kenyan Drake (vs BUF)
Drake has posted two straight 100 yard rushing weeks with 20+ carries in each game, catching a few passes as well. As long as Damien Williams remains sidelined, Drake is a clear feature back in Miami. Now, the piece of research that has me ranking Drake so high, is the Bills defense continues to give up big numbers to opposing running backs. Look at the numbers over the past 6 games, beginning in week 9- (total rushing yards per team) — 181 yards (NYJ), 294 (NO), 139 (LAC), 7 (KC… um, yeah.), 188 (NE), 153 (IND). That is a serious deficiency that the skilled Kenyan Drake will be sure to exploit. The loss of Marcell Dareus seems to be the direct cause of this catastrophe. Love myself some Kenyan Drake this week.

LeSean McCoy (vs MIA)
On the opposite side of Kenyan Drake this week, Shady has an opportunity to shred a Miami defense that allows 25.8 PPR points to running backs, on average, every week. He is coming off a debacle of a game in which he received 32 carries during a blizzard. He has yet to play Miami this year, but the Dolphins normally give up most of their points to RBs catching passes out of the backfield. If Shady catches 5-6 balls out of the backfield, and gets 20+ carries he could easily slot himself in a top 2 spot due to his playmaking ability.

Antonio Brown (vs NE)
Yes, another repeat performance in my predictions. It’s clear many are seeing the potential in a high scoring affair, but if I predict Ben to have another huge game, it’s only right to place his favorite target at the top as well. Brown has posted 4 straight 100+ yard weeks with a stat line of 39/627/6. The Patriots give up the 3rd most points to WRs, and their poor defensive showing was evident on MNF giving up 2 touchdowns to Jarvis Landry, and fantasy’s #1 wideout will thrive against this struggling defense. It will be a close game, with both offenses gunning, and Brown is a clear-cut top wide receiver every week, a career day is in sight for week 15.

Julio Jones (vs TB)
There are few picks to make easier than this one. Julio had a career day against the Bucs, posted a stat line of 12/253/2 for 50 fantasy points. This may be another obvious pick, but how do I pick against him? The Buccaneers have given up the most points against WRs, and Julio looks to have a repeat performance of Week 12. Allowing an average of 41.7 PPR points, the Buccaneers defense has given up some big days to big name receivers, and Julio looks to add his name to that list a second time this season.

TE: Zach Ertz (vs NYG)
The only time the Giants have not ceded double digit fantasy points to the TE position was Week 12 against Washington. Every single other week, it has been easy pickings for QBs to hit up the position for easy gains. The Giants went 9 straight games to open the season giving up a touchdown to a TE, and last week also found a TE in the end zone against this defense. Now, it’s no secret that the QB change in Philly may scare some away from Ertz, but I wouldn’t sleep on him yet. Foles comes into a surging offense with a ton of weapons around him, but the man he has the most chemistry with in prior years is Zach Ertz. Ertz was around during Foles’ 2013 season where he was selected to the pro bowl. There may still be a connection between the two against the defense that allows the #1 most points to Tight ends. If Ertz can remain healthy this week (a concussion sidelined him week 14) he is my breakout pick to sneak into the perfect lineup.

This is a more ridiculous part of the perfect lineup, I am really only keeping this in to brag on Twitter if I somehow get the perfect kicker right. Let’s give it a shot.

Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo (4) celebrates his game winning field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers with teammate cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. Jacksonville won 20-17 in overtime. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Kicker: Josh Lambo (vs HOU)
I mean… it’s a dart throw. Come on. Lambo has only missed one FG in his short tenure with the Jaguars. So, he has that going for him.
Also, seriously thought I nailed this pick until Boswell messed around on SNF and made that game winner. Damn. Can’t win ‘em all.

D/ST: Ravens (vs CLE)
They play the Browns, they are the 2nd best scoring defense, and predicting the highest scoring defense is kind of a dart throw as well. This one did seem like an easy pick for the top defense, though.

Want to argue the analysis? Sing my praises? Hunt me down for bonehead errors? @ffbreakroom is a great place to reach me! I’ll make sure to post updates on how the perfect lineup predictions are faring throughout the week!