NFL Nation Fantasy Fallout – What to make of Falcons, Titans backfields

If you were lucky enough to advance through the first week of the fantasy football playoffs, kudos. But that means another stressful week of lineup decisions, and we’re here to give you all the information you need to make key calls for your lineups.

Each Tuesday during the season, ESPN fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask NFL Nation reporters what to make of the fallout after games are played and the most pressing questions heading into the next weekend. Who is primed for a big performance, who is impacted by injuries and what roles might change? Here’s what our crew had to say about some of the biggest storylines after Week 15 as we head into Week 16.

With a favorable run-game matchup coming up this week, which Falcons backfield player will be relied upon more, Bijan Robinson or Tyler Allgeier?

It might depend on who the quarterback is between Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder. But what has been clear this year is that figuring out what the Falcons are going to do on a week-to-week basis is an unpredictable task. Being indoors and going on the non-weather games, it’s easy to surmise Robinson will once again get a lot of the work, but it could also depend on the health of the offensive line. Falcons coach Arthur Smith said he hopes to get right guard Chris Lindstrom back this week, but it’s still a line missing starters. So all that is to say, if your fantasy life is depending on it, consider looking elsewhere first (but Robinson is probably your better bet). — Michael Rothstein

Is Dontayvion Wicks’ role in the Packers passing game going to expand with all the wide receiver injuries?

Wicks was already the second-most targeted receiver in their last game, Sunday’s loss to the Bucs. It’s clear that Jordan Love has trust in the rookie. But he’s still a rookie, so there are going to be some growing pains, like the time on Sunday when he and fellow rookie Jordan Reed both mistakenly ran to the same spot. Also, Wicks’ targets might go down when Christian Watson returns from the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the last two games, and Watson could be trending toward a return this week. — Rob Demovsky



How will Titans RBs rank after Week 15 dud?

Daniel Dopp shares how he’s ranking Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears after they both busted against the Texans.

With the Titans out of playoff contention and Derrick Henry headed to free agency, will we see Tyjae Spears getting more touches as an audition for next season?

Henry is facing what could be his final three games as a Titans running back. That doesn’t mean Tennessee is going to force the ball to him. Mike Vrabel rarely shies away from an opportunity to compliment Spears’ playmaking ability. He called Spears one of the most elusive players in the league. Spears is especially good at making the first defender miss. The rookie only got 10 touches last week against the Texans, but expect that number to increase over the last three games. Spears presents a favorable matchup for the Titans when they get him against linebackers. Given the problems the offensive line has with pass protection, Spears should get to catch quick passes out of the backfield to get the ball of the quarterback’s hands in a hurry. — Turron Davenport

How will the Ravens’ backfield rotation look without Keaton Mitchell?

The only player who can help replace Mitchell’s explosive runs is quarterback Lamar Jackson. He has had double-digit carries in three straight games, which hasn’t happened since last season. As far as the backfield rotation, the loss of Mitchell means Gus Edwards will return to being the No. 1 back and get the majority of the running back carries. Justice Hill will get increased touches, but his issues with fumbled exchanges with Jackson could limit his overall opportunities. The Ravens will promote Melvin Gordon from the practice squad to fill Mitchell’s spot on the 53-man roster. But Gordon is more of a fallback option at this point. — Jamison Hensley

Is Rashee Rice the long-term answer as Patrick Mahomes’ No. 1 WR?

It’s unlikely the Chiefs will look at the situation this way. Rice doesn’t have the downfield speed the Chiefs would prefer to see in their WR1. He has also dropped too many passes. Many of the passes he’s catching are schemed plays like screens that are designed to let him run after the catch, which he does well. Rice is part of the solution, but the Chiefs will need more top-end receiving help. — Adam Teicher

The Browns’ O-line line has been decimated by injuries and the running game has struggled. Are they officially a pass-first offense with Joe Flacco under center?

If and when the Browns get center Ethan Pocic (stinger) and guard Joel Bitonio (back) back on the field, they still have the ability to re-establish the run. But with their top three tackles (Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones, Jedrick Wills Jr.) all out for the year, the Browns are probably going to continue struggling to run the ball at times. It’s still hard to call Cleveland a pass-first offense. But the best thing the Browns have going offensively right now is Flacco’s big arm. And that’s likely where the fantasy value on the Browns is going to be going forward. — Jake Trotter

After a couple subpar performances, should we still have confidence in Sam Howell?

Howell appears to have plateaued several games ago and remains under a stiff learning curve. With upcoming games against talented defenses such as the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, it’ll be tough for him to turn it around. So, yes, it’s hard to have a lot of confidence right now. He does a nice job making off-schedule plays, but he and the offense need to make more plays on schedule. It’s not all on him, but his stats are the result of a number of factors, from scheme to protection to his own performance. He has thrown only two touchdowns to six interceptions in the past four games combined. In the previous four games he had thrown a combined 10 touchdowns to three interceptions. — John Keim

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