Though losing is not a common theme for USC’s sports teams, it’s even harder to swallow for the men’s volleyball team, which has followed up its 2012 championship appearance with three straight losses and a 2-4 record.Nonetheless, the Trojans will look to shake off their slump Friday night as they take on Long Beach State to try to salvage a victory from their three-game road trip.Tough times · Sophomore Robert Feathers and the Trojans have dropped matches to UCSD, Pacific, Pepperdine and Cal State Northridge. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanAfter a 2-1 start that saw USC avenge their finals loss to 2012 champion UC Irvine, the Trojans have dropped three straight games by a 3-1 score. Following a loss to Pacific to end the homestand, the team failed to establish momentum en route to losses against Pepperdine and then Cal State Northridge on Monday and Wednesday night.“There’s been some bad and there’s been some good,” USC head coach Bill Ferguson said. “Our digging has got to be better. That’s our hallmark and we’re typically one of the better digging teams in the country. Our blocking has been fantastic, so we just need to settle down our offense a bit.”Before the match against Pepperdine, Ferguson wanted to see more impactful performances from various players, including redshirt junior opposite Tanner Jansen and redshirt freshman outside hitter Austin Rysyk. Indeed, those two powered the offensive attack against the Waves, as Jansen notched a team-leading 16 kills, while Rysyk chipped in 10 of his own. With the exception of blocking, however, Pepperdine edged USC in digs (28-22), service aces (8 to 5) and attacking percentage (.255 to .208), all of which contributed to the decisive victory (23-25, 18-25, 27-25, 22-25).“We did some very good things; we blocked very well,” Ferguson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do so well on defense on the back row. We had a real solid match from Tanner Jansen, which helped spread out our offense and helped the left-side attackers a little bit. We got key blocking from [sophomore] middle blocker Ben Lam.”Jansen enjoyed a field day against Cal State Northridge, recording a career-high 24 kills to pace the Trojan attack, but it wasn’t enough, as the hosts pulled away with a 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 25-22 victory. The Trojans hit well at .324 (with Jansen reaching .475) but the defense failed to contain the Matadors, who hit .471 on the strength of 40 kills between opposite hitters John Baker and Brandon Lebrock.While the losses are tough to swallow for a team that registered just seven total losses last season, Ferguson stressed the need to continue improving and making any lineup changes that would benefit the team.“We’re going to try to solidify who’s going to play on the left side for us,” Ferguson said. “Rysyk played well against Pepperdine and [sophomore outside hitter] Cristian Rivera has come in and done well. We need more production from our pin attackers on the left side. As far as the match is concerned, Long Beach State has great fan support and is playing some of the best volleyball in the country, so we’re going to take things day by day and refine what we do.”Following the match against the 49ers, the Trojans will return to the Galen Center for a four-game homestand, starting with a match against Cal-Baptist Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
MORE WEEK 15:Waiver pickups | FAAB planner | Stock watch | Snap counts | Fantasy playoff tipsWeek 15 Fantasy RB RankingsMORE WEEK 15 DFS: Values | Stacks | Lineup BuilderThese rankings are for standard, non-PPR leagues.RankPlayer1Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. SEA2Dalvin Cook, MIN @ LAC3Saquon Barkley, NYG vs. MIA4Derrick Henry, TEN vs. HOU. Henry didn’t finish the Titans’ Week 14 game due to an injury that he appeared to initially be playing through. It’s an important one to watch, since he’s an obvious starter but also because Dion Lewis would rocket up the rankings if Henry was out. 5Leonard Fournette, JAX @ OAK6Nick Chubb, CLE @ ARZ7Ezekiel Elliott, DAL vs. LAR8Chris Carson, SEA @ CAR. With Rashaad Penny dealing with what Pete Carroll called an ACL sprain, it looks like it’ll be all Carson in this backfield going forward, and the Panthers allow the most fantasy points to running backs, so lock and load Carson in your lineups.9Josh Jacobs, OAK vs. JAX. Jacobs could be removed from these rankings very soon depending on the results of an MRI of his reportedly fractured shoulder. DeAndre Washington moves into back-end RB2 territory the rest of the way if Jacobs is done, while Jalen Richard is in play for PPR owners. 10Phillip Lindsay, DEN @ KC. The Chiefs allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so while Lindsay hasn’t totally seperated from Royce Freeman, you can feel great about him this week even in a timeshare. 11Aaron Jones, GB vs. CHI12Todd Gurley, LAR @ DAL13Mark Ingram, BAL vs. NYJ14Le’Veon Bell, NYJ @ BAL. Bell was forced to miss Week 14 due to an illness, and the Jets turn around quickly and play on Thursday night. If Bell is out again, Bilal Powell could be looking at close to the 21 touches he received Sunday.15Melvin Gordon, LAC vs. MIN16David Montgomery, CHI @ GB17Alvin Kamara, NO vs. IND. Kamara continues to disappoint on the ground but remains a player you can’t take out of your lineup due to talent and passing-game involvement. 18James Conner, PIT vs. BUF. Early reports suggest Conner will make it back from his shoulder injury to play in Week 15, and even though the Buffalo run defense is solid, you’d want to play Conner if he’s healthy. Benny Snell Jr. would be more of a toss-up if Conner remained out.19Devin Singletary, BUF @ PIT20Marlon Mack, IND @ NO21Carlos Hyde, HOU @ TEN22Joe Mixon, CIN vs. NE. New England isn’t inherently dominant against running backs in regards to yards per carry – the biggest issue with RBs against New England is that the Pats have allowed two total TDs to running backs all year. If you’re playing Mixon, you’ve got to be aware his touchdown odds are pretty low. 23Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. MIN24Raheem Mostert, SF vs. ATL. One week could be considered a fluke, but two weeks start a trend, and it looks like Mostert will be the leading back in a good rushing attack down the stretch, putting him in RB2 range.25Kareem Hunt, CLE @ ARZ. Each and every week, Hunt produces at least at a FLEX level despite being second fiddle to Nick Chubb, and against Arizona, that should remain the case. 26James White, NE @ CIN. White has been too involved in the New England offense of late for us to be too concerned about potential game flow issues keeping him down in this favorable matchup.27Miles Sanders, PHI @ WAS.28Devonta Freeman, ATL @ SF. Freeman will get enough touches that he should probably still be in fantasy lineups against the 49ers, but there’s definitely serious bust potential here. 29Adrian Peterson, WAS vs. PHI. Derrius Guice will be out, so count on 15-plus touches for Peterson and cross your fingers that he can fall into the end zone.30Kenyan Drake, ARZ vs. CLE31Ronald Jones, TB @ DET. The Lions give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so if you feel confident enough that Ronald Jones (or Peyton Barber) will get the heaviest workload in this backfield, you can use him as a FLEX.32Peyton Barber, TB @ DET33Sony Michel, NE @ CIN34Patrick Laird, MIA @ NYG. Laird’s 15 rushes and five targets Sunday suggest his offensive involvement will remain solid the rest of the way, and the Giants aren’t an intimidating matchup.35Boston Scott, PHI @ WAS36Bo Scarbrough, DET vs. TB. Keep an eye on Scarbrough’s rib injury, but you might want to steer clear here anyway from the Tampa Bay defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2019.37Latavius Murray, NO vs. IND38Royce Freeman, DEN @ KC39Jamaal Williams, GB vs. CHI40Matt Breida, SF vs. ATL. Breida was the second-most involved 49ers back behind Mostert in his return, so if you’re holding a San Fran back that’s not Mostert, apparently it should be Breida.41LeSean McCoy, KC vs. DEN42Tarik Cohen, CHI @ GB43David Johnson, ARZ vs. CLE. Johnson came out of nowhere to catch a touchdown pass down the sideline Sunday. He’s still been one of fantasy’s biggest busts.44Spencer Ware, KC vs. DEN45Duke Johnson Jr., HOU @ TEN46Nyheim Hines, IND @ NO47Ty Montgomery, NYJ @ BAL. Bilal Powell is out and Le’Veon Bell is healthy. Nothing to see here.48Dare Ogunbowale, TB @ DET49Jaylen Samuels, PIT vs. BUF50C.J. Prosise, SEA @ CAR. If Penny is out, Prosise takes over a change-of-pace role for Seattle, but probably not enough of one to make him worth considering in fantasy. 51Rex Burkhead, NE @ CIN52Gus Edwards, BAL vs. NYJ53Frank Gore, BUF @ PIT54Tevin Coleman, SF vs. ATL. If you look at your team and don’t see a reason to use Coleman the rest of the fantasy playoffs, you can drop him – his workload probably isn’t coming back in the short term.55Brian Hill, ATL @ SF56Malcolm Brown, LAR @ DAL. Brown vultured a touchdown from Gurley on Sunday night, but he remains just a handcuff at this point.57Darwin Thompson, KC vs. DEN58J.D. McKissic, DET vs. TB. McKissic and Ty Johnson could split work if Scarbrough has to miss this one, but that’s not appealing against a good Tampa run defense.59Dion Lewis, TEN vs. HOU. Keep an eye on Derrick Henry’s injury status – Lewis could be in line for a big workload if Henry is out, as he’s the only other RB on Tennessee’s current roster (along with fullback Khari Blasingame).60Tony Pollard, DAL vs. LAR61Myles Gaskin, MIA @ NYG62Giovani Bernard, CIN vs. NE63Javorious Allen, NYG vs. MIA WEEK 15 NON-PPR RANKINGS: Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | KickerIt’s also pretty simple in Washington — if Guice (knee) is done, Adrian Peterson should see a ton of work after getting 20 carries and a touchdown in Week 14. It could be the last hurrah for the future Hall of Famer, although facing the Eagles’ stout run defense isn’t exactly a dream matchup in Week 15.Penny’s knee injury mostly means Chris Carson owners need not worry about competition the rest of the way, making him a rock-solid RB1 going forward. Scarbrough’s rib injury, if serious, would mean you can ignore the Detroit backfield the rest of the way unless Kerryon Johnson (knee) does indeed get activated from Injured Reserve for Week 16. WEEK 15 PPR RANKINGS: Running back | Wide receiver | Tight endBeyond the injuries, beware of tough matchups for Devonta Freeman and Joe Mixon in Week 15, as they face off with the 49ers and Patriots, respectively. Conner is expected back from his shoulder injury, although a matchup with Buffalo isn’t a great one. On the other side of the matchup coin, we’d like to recommend a Tampa Bay back against the brutal Detroit run defense and would suggest Ronald Jones if we had to, but there’s not enough certainty in that backfield to do anything more than play Jones and Peyton Barber as FLEX backs.WEEK 15 DFS LINEUPS:FD Cash | FD GPP | DK Cash | DK GPP | Y! Cash | Y! GPPKeep an eye on our Twitter account @SN_Fantasy this week as we provide injury updates as they become available to many of these important running backs.Reminder: These rankings will be adjusted throughout week, so check back often for the latest updates and analysis! Our Week 15 fantasy RB rankings will be affected by injuries — it’s just a matter of which players actually wind up dropping out. Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry both are every-week fantasy starters who are hurting a bit (Jacobs more than Henry). There’s also a Le’Veon Bell illness ahead of a Thursday Night Football game to account for, along with new injuries to Derrius Guice, Rashaad Penny and Bo Scarbrough and existing injuries to James Conner, Damien Williams, and Jordan Howard. If you’re still alive in the fantasy playoffs, there will be a lot of practice reports to pay attention to throughout the week.Some of the situations seem straightforward. If Jacobs (shoulder) misses Week 15 like he did Week 14, DeAndre Washington becomes a solid fantasy play against the Jaguars. Henry (hamstring) looks less likely to miss time, although if he did, we’d expect Dion Lewis to be the main beneficiary. And if Bell continues to be sick, Bilal Powell would be coming off 21 touches and likely to repeat a similar workload as the Jets try to keep Lamar Jackson on the sideline Thursday.