Welcome to your Start/Sit for Week 15!
What a Thursday game.
You know, I can’t quite remember the last time I’ve seen a quarterback clean up a game so quickly. I knew the Ravens were going to win that game, but the way Lamar’s going about it is unreal. The MVP front-runner was nothing short of spectacular.
Moving forward, another exciting round of fantasy goodness awaits us. Congrats if you’ve advanced in your playoffs, and sorry if you haven’t. This week should prove once again to be quite challenging as we edit our rosters (I just had to replace D.J. Chark). I’m excited to get into it, so let’s jump right in
As per the usual, here’s my master key to give you an idea of how I break down these players:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Must Start: Zach Ertz (TE)
Who’s the No. 1 wide receiver in Philadelphia? It’s not Alshon. It’s not Agholor.
The Redskins really hate to defend tight ends (10th-most points given up). That, coupled with the lack of outside weapons on Philly’s offense, sets up Ertz for an even larger timeshare.
Start: Miles Sanders (RB)
Despite leaving last week’s game and ceding a touchdown to Boston Scott, Sanders is the top back. The ‘Skins are one of the most ran-on teams in the league, 2nd in the league with 31.0 rushes per game on average. Sanders should see a nice workload on the ground and through the air, especially with limited options for Wentz to target.
Flex Start: Dallas Goedert (TE)
Goedert is like Zach Ertz little brother. I like him as a red zone option. Though more touchdown dependent than in past weeks, he has a higher upside here than he’s had recently.
Wentz production came late last week in a late-game drive that put them up. His weapons are few and far between, and while he can succeed with Ertz out there, I don’t feel comfortable enough rolling him out.
Boston Scott enjoyed a great game, but it was piggybacked off of Sanders’ brief absence. His limited involvement beforehand is an indicator that this was a result of game flow, so I’m not counting on him with a healthy Sanders in to make much of an impact. Howard still hasn’t cleared for contact, which is funny because he also hasn’t been cleared to even touch my roster.
This wide receiver core is sad and now I’m sad thinking about it. Poor Carson Walch.
Flex Start: Terry McLaurin (WR)
Terry got his first touchdown since Week 6 (remember Case Keenum?) against Green Bay last week, and he has an opportunity to build upon that in this game. The Eagles are one of the easiest teams to throw on (6th-most points to wide receivers), aiding McLaurin’s bid for a flex spot.
I don’t feel like I have to explain why to not play Haskins. Also, the Eagles are pretty difficult to run on.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
The Watson-Hopkins duo should connect plenty in this divisional matchup.
Start: Will Fuller V (WR)
Assuming he’s in, Fuller is a must-play. The Titans can be thrown on, and playmakers like Fuller can expose their secondary. Keep an eye on him leading up to Sunday’s kickoff, as his history of hamstring injuries could ultimately sideline him yet again.
Flex Start: Duke Johnson (RB)
The PPR back (and I mean just PPR) is passing Carlos Hyde in fantasy relevance and as Watson’s preferred check-down option. He’s a nice option to consider.
Hyde’s goal line dependency is a huge roadblock on the road to a fantasy championship. Detour to Johnson.
Fells is game script-dependent as well, but call it a gut feeling; I don’t think he’ll have much a game through the air. Stills’ lack of fantasy relevance also continues this week.
** Quarterback Start of the Week **: Ryan Tannehill (QB)
Tannehill’s Pro Bowl (yes) season chugs on as his Titans host the Texans in Nashville this week. The Texans seem to be terrified of the sky. Houston allows the 3rd-most points to QB’s (22.8 ppg), setting up Tannehill for a Randy Orton-style fantasy smackdown.
Must Start: Derrick Henry (RB)
The questions surrounding the back this week should be noted. His workload is too heavy to ignore, but if he’s out, keep an eye on Khari Blasingame. The depth chart hits continue with Dion Lewis‘ less than stellar play, and Blasingame has big-play potential.
Start: A.J. Brown (WR)
Brown doesn’t like to be tackled, and he loves to catch passes. He’s 16th in the NFL in yards-after-catch (out of every qualifying position) and is a break-away type of player. His ascendance to WR1 means he’s a late-season league winner.
Flex Start: N/A
None of these guys have proven fantasy-valuable, except Jonnu. His issue is attention from Tannehill, and he may not see as much here. If you need a tight end, you can take a shot on him, and I wouldn’t one surprised if he got the first touchdown. I’m not rolling him out myself, though.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Giants
Start: Devante Parker (WR)
While I have doubt for his availability Sunday, Parker’s volume cannot be denied. His unfortunate early exit last week was a certainly a stain on many rosters. If he’s in, he’s easily a start against a Giants secondary that is now without Janoris Jenkins.
Flex Start: Patrick Laird (RB)
Laird’s prowess as a pass-catcher aids his flex consideration this week, especially if Parker is out. His inefficiency on the ground (2.7 YPA) is outdone by his PPR upside.
Fitz and Gesicki were relegated to benchwarmers as the Dolphins decided that Jason Sanders was the offense. The Giants are pretty stout against tight ends, making Gesicki hard to trust.
Must Start: Saquon Barkley (RB)
Barkley’s fall from fantasy grace this season takes a detour for this matchup. The Dolphins are the exact opposite of the Eagles rush defense. They’ve already opened up a nice camping ground for Saquon in the end zone for when he arrives into town, and I expect him to settle in quite comfortably.
i.e. Start him.
Manning was a slight disappointment last week, finishing as QB18 on the week. Still, a good game is in the cards. Manning’s targeting of Slayton surely comes on the back of Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard‘s injury woes. Slayton is in line for another monster outing, so roll him out with confidence.
Flex Start: Golden Tate (WR), Sterling Shepard (WR)
This feels like a holiday movie, because anything is possible against the Dolphins (if you just believe). You can take a shot on either of these wideouts, but I expect Slayton to see the majority of attention from Eli. These guys are “Risky Business“, so don’t expect to “Tom Cruise” into your playoffs.
Sit: Kaden Smith (TE)
“Don’t worry about it.”
– Tommy Wiseau, The Room
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Lindsay’s season perplexes me. In the games in which it seems like he’s a smash play, he falls off. In the games you wouldn’t even touch him in, he’s Superman. Unfortunately, his volume and upside can’t be ignored, so roll him out once again.
Sutton’s past three weeks have been a rollercoaster with Lock under center, but his two-touchdown game against the Chargers show his upside. The Chiefs are dominant against wideouts (2nd-fewest points allowed), but his season-long greatness makes him a solid play.
Flex Start: Noah Fant (TE)
Fant’s monster game last week was inevitable. His ceiling is so high that I really can’t rule out starting him this week against a Chiefs team that’s allowed the 7th-most points to tight ends (14.1 ppg).
Lockdown is entering his third start, and perhaps his first loss. The Broncos rookie has drawn comparisons to his own GM John Elway, but his chances of upsetting the Chiefs are slim. Freeman is also a change-of-pace back now, so his previous touchdown upside (like when he scored against the Chiefs last time…and got me my first sleeper pick W as a writer) is no longer there.
The mediocre performances from these guys back in Week 7 (mostly due to Mahomes’ exit) isn’t likely to repeat. Andy Reid doesn’t doesn’t flop after big wins, and the dominating performance from his team last week is an indicator that this offense is hot. Start these guys.
Flex Start: N/A
Committees and roster clogs not only hurt your rosters, but those around you. If you care about your fantasy well being, avoid these guys.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
Must Start: Allen Robinson II (WR)
The past month for Robinson has been fantasy gold. He’s a great player and is the Trubisky’s go-to guy.
Start: David Montgomery (RB), Mitch Trubisky (QB)
It’s been hard to trust Montgomery lately, so if there’s ever a time to salvage his season, it’s now. He’s a nice RB2 this week against a Packers team that’s allowing the 6th-most points to running backs this season (27.8)
I had to go back and edit myself. I was putting Trubisky on the bench, but I had to think about what he’s done. His absolute dismantling of Dallas last week was enough to convince me that he’s a viable option for this Packers matchup. While there’s potentially better options floating on the waiver wire, he’s a playable quarterback due to his recent playmaking abilities.
The secondary options for Trubisky have proven reliable PPR guys in tough games. Take a shot on flexing Miller, as I prefer him over Tarik if you have the options available.
Keeping the faith in Jones proved rewarding last week as he led the way for another dominating performance. He gets another matchup against a Chicago team that’s been falling off the rush defense wagon in recent weeks.
Despite a shaky showing last week (I was actually backwards on these guys), Adams has no injury designation carrying into Sunday’s game. He’s a WR1.
Flex Start: Jamaal Williams (RB)
Williams was nothing more than a benchwarmer while Jones enjoyed the spotlight last week. He’ll be a flex again this week, and should see a little more work as a change of pace back.
Never thought I’d write an article where Trubisky is a start and Rodgers is a bench.
Aaron Rodgers is no longer matchup-proof (not the first time I’ve said that), and Chicago ranks among the toughest challenges for signal-callers. Him and his wide array of mouths to feed aren’t on my radar to start this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions
** Wide Receiver Start of the Week **: Chris Godwin (WR)
Mike Evans is done for the season, leaving Godwin as the de facto number one. Start him.
Jameis can be a league winner this year, finishing the season with three teams in the Top 8 for most points given up to quarterbacks. If you’re okay with 3 interceptions and 6 touchdowns, that’s the sort of upside Winston offers.
Perriman perhaps has the the most to gain from Evans’ departure. The Lions are allowing 38.3 points a game to wideouts (9th-most), making him an interesting streamer this week.
I’ll gladly take the L if I’m wrong on both of these guys. Bruce Arians hate fantasy football, that much is clear. I’m choosing both of these guys simply because they are the best options at their respective position, with massive upside and big-play potential. The Lions are susceptible to the run and tight ends, so keep these guys in consideration if you’re looking for last-second changes.
Risky plays mean not taking a risk. Sit them.
Sleeper: Justin Watson (WR)
I agree with Jason Moore. Justin Watson superstar season is upon us.
He actually has a fantastic opportunity to be a surprise top receiver this week. Arians’ air-raid with Winston marks Watson as a potential end of season grand slam.
Must Start: Kenny Golladay (WR)
With Marvin Jones on IR, it’s Golladay SZN.
Flex Start: Danny Amendola (WR)
There’s a chance for Amendola to be a solid WR2 if Blough remains the starting Qb for the rest of season. We’ll see how this week goes, but he should see enough volume to be a flex play.
Light yardage and usage makes these guys avoidable disasters this week.
New England Patriots @ Cincinnati Bengals
Must Start: Julian Edelman (WR)
He’s a WR1 for a reason.
Flex Start: James White (RB)
White’s ceiling as a pass-catcher makes him a great pivot against a weak Bengals rush-defense that’s struggled against dual-threat running backs all season.
This offense has struggled, and these are the culprits.
Flex Start: Joe Mixon (RB)
The volume and passes out of the backfield are what’s going to save Mixon’s day, so make sure it’s a PPR format if you’re rolling him out. The Patriots defense is still top of the league despite a short drop-off.
This is a tough game for a one win team. I’m not confident on any of these guys.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
Must Start: Chris Carson (RB)
With Penny out for the season, Carson is the undisputed king of the backfield. The Panthers are giving up the 3rd-most points to running backs (30.2 ppg), meaning he’s set up for a fantastic outing. This offense is explosive, so keep Carson locked in as a top back this week.
Start: Russell Wilson (QB)
Wilson is a Top 5 QB on the season despite being the QB25 over the past 5 weeks. There’s a risk to playing him, but just and equal (if not bigger) risk to benching him, in the off chance that he has an absolutely elite performance. He’s more of a QB2 this week, as I expect the Seahawks to lean on Chris Carson for this one.
It’s been over a month, has anyone seen Tyler Lockett? Ever since his 2 touchdown performance versus Tampa Bay, he’s been the WR No. 89. That’s no bueno. His upside is there, but so is the bust potential.
Metcalf has been more serviceable over that time, butte’s still a risky flex play.
Until they get more integrated into this recent offensive change, I’m down on Gordon and Hollister moving forward.
** Tight End Start of the Week **: Ian Thomas (TE)
Thomas enjoyed a great game last week (shocker), and he’s in line too repeat it against an even worse tight end defense. With Olsen already ruled out ahead of Sunday’s contest, Thomas is a no brainer.
Must Start: Christian McCaffrey (RB)
Every week (is there an echo in here?).
Start: D.J. Moore (WR)
The struggles of the offense as a whole and the changeover from Ron Rivera‘s departure were felt in last week’s game. Moore is still a focal point ofd the attack, and should be left in starting rosters.
Flex Start: N/A
The possibility that Allen could be replaced by Will Grier is too real to leave him in as a valuable option. This caps Samuel’s upside as well.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Oakland Raiders
Must Start: Leonard Fournette (RB)
Two teams, two equally-shallacked defenses in recent weeks. Gruden’s surprise release of some of his defensive players shows just how pissed the man really is with his team’s performance. Fournette has been the exact opposite of disappointment however, as he’s been running amok on opposing defenses all season long. Start him up again.
Start: Gardner Minshew II (QB)
Minshew’s ceiling for this porous pass defense is very high. Despite a lackluster performance last week, Minshew is a startable player and would find more success in multi-quarterback leagues.
The low passing volume in recent weeks lowers expectations for these two, but the absence of Chark raises it. I’m finding myself stuck somewhere in the middle. I like both of these guys as good, not great, options this week.
Sit: D.J. Chark (WR), Keelan Cole (WR)
Consider this a courtesy reminder that Chark is out. Also, Keelan Cole, where u at??
Jacobs is willing to go this week, but its ultimately up to the training staff if they’re going to roll him out there. If they do, he gets a Duval defense that’s had their teal curtains ripped down. The Jags are being ran on to the tune of 30.7 points a game allowed to running backs (most in the league). If Jacobs is out, DeAndre Washington gets a massive bump-up.
Waller, man…get it together. Renfrow came in and snagged his targets. Then he’s gone. Okay, Waller SZN.
But no. Foster Moreau thinks it’s his time.
Now Moreau is gone. Waller SZN? God I hope so. If there was ever a time to put up a he fantasy performance, it’s now.
Flex Start: DeAndre Washington (RB)
Washington might be a great flex play, regardless if Jacobs is in or not. The Raiders may want to limit Jacobs’ involvement, so Washington could see an increase in play time. If he’s ruled out, Washington easily becomes a Top 10 back this week.
I’m parking the Carr and those that rely on it (really just Tyrell).
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Chargers
Must Start: Dalvin Cook (RB)
Cook is the only player I’m high on for the Vikings this week. He’s been sluggish recently, but that’s also a result of some poor coaching decisions. He’s an easy RB1 for this week after another healthy week of practice.
Flex Start: Stefon Diggs (WR)
Diggs has a tough matchup ahead and takes a hit to his workload with Thielen returning to the lineup. He’s a low-end flex for me in a tough game.
Thielen’s return means a decrease in looks at Rudolph, though he could certainly make something happen with his limited opportunities. The chances of re-aggravation for a hamstring injury is extremely high, and even though the Vikings have been cautious and slow in bringing him back, I’d rather him score on my bench than goose me in my lineup (hey, anybody remember Week 9?).
Cousins should be plenty busy trying to not throe interceptions against a tough pass defense, so keep him and these other guys out of consideration.
Must Start: Hunter Henry (TE)
I believe Henry has a solid game this week, and I don’t think 2 touchdowns is out of the question for the big-bodied bruiser. The Vikings have struggled in all-around receiving coverage this season, so don’t hesitate on plugging him in.
This offense is too talented to be 5-8, yet here we are. Allen, Ekeler, and Gordon all had great games in last week’s breaking of the Jaguars. I expect that to continue this week, albeit much more difficult.
Flex Start: Mike Williams (WR)
I was wrong on Williams last week. He’s coming into his own after last year’s seemingly statistical anomaly. Even Cynthia Frelund couldn’t predict this much of a rollercoaster season for the embattled wideout, but I feel another strong outing in the horizon.
Sit: Philip Rivers (QB)
I’d rather be wrong than to trust Rivers in my lineup. He’s been too inconsistent and just plain bad this season.
Cleveland Browns @ Arizona Cardinals
** Running Back Start of the Week **: Kareem Hunt (RB)
Hunt has been awesome in his return to the field, rising to RB No. 12 since his first game action in Week 10. The Cardinals are tanking (again), and just got rid of Terrell Suggs. Enjoy.
The Cardinals rank in the bottom-10 across the board in all around defense, and should be treated by your roster as such. Njoku had just one catch last week, but I’m calling for a monster performance this week for the young star. This is a premiere matchup for fantasy playoffs purposes, so don’t hesitate on any of these guys this week. After all, Landry’s been the No. 3 wide receiver since Week 8.
Baker gets the easiest defense to throw on this week, but he didn’t do anything with the Bengals (who are also very easy to throw on) last week. He needs to right the ship this week for what should be an easy win. He’s not the best option, but the upside is there.
OBJ gets a bump up from his flex spot for a one-week rental this week with the Cards on the table. Here’s to some hopeful production.
Flex Start: N/A
Start: Kyler Murray (QB)
Murray’s been stumbling recently, but he was staggering before the brief regression hit. I expect the Browns to get up early, so Kyler made need to do plenty of damage through the air and with his legs to make an indent on the scoreboard. He’s a low-end QB1 for me.
Kyler’s wide receivers will need to be plenty available Sunday. Like I said, I expect them to be down, so airing it out only aids the flex candidacy for each of these talented wideouts.
Inconsistency leads to inefficiency.
Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers
Calvin Ridley is out for the rest of the season. That’s the only silver lining Jones and Hooper have for a salvageable fantasy day. More targets to both of them keep them in a starting tier, but you’re not happy about it. Jones has been a WR2 for most of the season, and that should continue this week.
Flex Start: Devonta Freeman (RB)
Freeman’s saving grace is his volume and pass-catching portfolio. This is a tough game with a lot of coverage and not a lot of mouths to feed. Benching him is a possibility, but his upside is still there.
The 49ers can shut down quarterbacks, and Ryan’s play has been anything but consistent. Him and these lesser options shouldn’t see the daylight of your roster this week.
** Note: Sorry I forgot to write about Matt Ryan last week. That’s the third time that;’s happened this season, and the second time it’s been him (Baker was also forgotten).
While this is in no way an endorsement, I think that Raheem Mostert is the most explosiveness running back on the roster.
Oh, maybe it is an endorsement.
For this 49ers offense that won a shoot out last week against Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans, this should be a step down from the teams they’ve faced in recent weeks. Atlanta is giving up 20.9 points a game to quarterbacks (7th-most) and 38.1 points a game to wide receivers (10th-most). That, mixed with Mostert’s big-play ability, warrants starts across the board.
Also, George Kittle is super good at football.
Start: Emmanuel Sanders (WR)
While Sanders had the big game last week, Deebo has been the more consistent one. If you had to pick just one, I’d lean Samuel. Other than that, this is an all-around plus matchup for an offense that looks like it’s on a roll.
Flex Start: Matt Breida (RB)
A tough game on the ground means limited work for running backs, but Breida is a strong-runner and has shown impressive playmaking abilities already this season. He’s a nice flex.
Sit: Tevin Coleman (RB)
Coleman’s lack of playing and the committal of Mostert to the lead-back makes Coleman a great stash for never.
Sleeper: Kendrick Bourne (WR)
I’m sorry that I doubted this offense last week, because they came through in a huge way. Bourne is a bit more touchdown-dependent, but you can certainly piggyback off of his effectiveness if you need a WR and Deebo & Sanders are already claimed.
Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
The best playmakers for a Rams team that had a shocking win last week are must starts. Woods has passed Kupp as Goff’s security blanket, and has risen his fantasy stock considerably. Dallas is a tough matchup, but the volume and looks these guys receive weekly is enough to keep them in the high-end starting category.
Start: Cooper Kupp (WR)
Kupp should see glances from Goff, as he’s scored in each h ion the last two games. His volume has been down lately, playing a career-low 29% of snaps last week. His upside is there, but cap it in this away game.
Flex Start: Tyler Higbee (TE)
Higbee has been a season-saver for many the past two weeks as an outside threat in the passing game. The Cowboys aren’t as bad in coverage of tight ends as the Cardinals and Seahawks (the two worst teams in the league against tight ends), but they’re still allowing an average of 13.0 points a game to the position (11th-most).
Goff can beaten through the system and Cooks isn’t the player he’s been in the past. Best to avoid these two.
While the Rams aren’t a cakewalk by any means, their defense has been too middling to not start against this season. Despite the presence of Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, passing and running on this team hasn’t proven detrimental to your roster. You can comfortably start these guys.
Flex Start: Michael Gallup (WR)
Gallup has seen at least 6 targets in every game this season except for one (4 targets), and is a fine volume play as a WR3.
Witten and Cobb simply don’t offer as much upside as these other guys. Jarwin is also less utilized, so you can safely downgrade this group for this game.
Buffalo Bills @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Must Start: Josh Allen (QB)
While the Steelers defense has certainly proven hard to beat this year, Josh Allen can make plays happen. This is a creative offense ran by a defensive-minded head coach. Don’t be surprised if Sean McDermott can find a way around this Steelers team.
While I’ll play these skill-position players, I’m going to be down on them slightly due to the difficult matchup. Allen gets his players the ball though, so don’t be afraid of any of these guys come Sunday.
Welcome to my weekly segment entitled “Don’t play Dawson Knox or Frank Gore“.
Start: James Conner (RB)
If Conner is in, you play him. He’s a fantastic running back, and if there’s one place the Bills defense is weak, it’s the run. Conner has big-play upside to his name, and is a start if he’s cleared to play.
Flex Start: N/A
I don’t expect many fireworks from this team this week. Sit these guys.
Indianapolis Colts @ New Orleans Saints
Despite the up and down fantasy production and the nosediving season, this Colts team has its playmakers. Brissett gets a nice matchup against a Saints team that’s giving up 20.1 points a game to quarterbacks (10th-most), so he’s a play in a pinch. Pascal and Doyle should be the reciprocates of that work, so expect to see plenty of air traffic.
Mack was a bust last week despite his touchdown. he’ll face a similar tough outing this week against the Saints, who’ve kept running backs to 21.0 points a game (8th-fewest). Johnson has a crazy high ceiling, but his uncertain consistency (based upon our limited exposure to him) makes him more of a question mark. Still, there will be volume through the air, and he’s bound to attract some of it.
Hines saw a season-high snap percentage last week…and did nothing with it. Hilton is still practicing in limited fashion, and has a history of re-aggravating injuries. Don’t try it.
Must Start: Michael Thomas (WR), Drew Brees (QB)
These guys are really good at football and should be in your lineup this week. Thomas should be in your lineup every week anyway. The man could probably finish Top 5 on a bye week. Wouldn’t surprise me.
Kamara’s been such a disappointment this year, and this is yet another chance for him to rebound in a big way. He’s such a big part of the offense that you cannot take him out of your lineup, but you’re stuck if he’s left in and makes a dud. Keep him locked in, as he carries no injury designation for this week.
Cook was upgraded to a full participant this week, which is an encouraging sign. He’s a huge part of the air attack when he’s healthy, something the Saints will be relying on this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Limited work means not up for consideration.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, doing voice impressions, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.