It’s crunch time as most fantasy football leagues enter their semi-finals. You’re supposed to dance with the ones that got you there, but what happens when those players are not on the dance floor this week? You’re going to need to make a lot of smart decisions to make it to championship week. Hopefully my Week 15 Starts and Sits can help you make it that one more week.
Week 15 Starts and Sits
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Start These Quarterbacks:
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos
*sigh… muffled sobbing* erm ok, excuse me. Here this goes. The Denver Broncos are officially in a death roll, tailspin, force chokehold… whatever you want to call it at this point. The loss of Chris Harris Jr. has completely solidified this point. Though a strong pass rush remains, the evisceration of the Broncos secondary displayed in last week’s dismantling versus the extremely injured San Francisco 49ers, showed in big bold light-up letters that fantasy points are OPEN for opposition passing games.
Mayfield will benefit from this instability. Though the Broncos also surrender their fair share of yards on the ground, they have been a relatively stingy unit when it comes to TDs allowed in that manner. To date, Denver ranks fifth leaguewide in terms of ground scores allowed and will still field the majority of their run stopping unit. The Browns will need to throw and will be able to. Trust Mayfield in Week 15.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans @ New York Jets
Though Watson technically is a QB1 on the season so far (QB10) his performances have been nothing short of enigmatic. One week, he’s the superstar we all witnessed last season. The next week he’s a middling QB2. Because of this, there could be some trepidation among managers making the decision to start him this week. But don’t fear, Watson will come through for us all this week.
The New York Jets are a defense that won’t be able to take advantage of Houston’s 31st ranked pass blocking O-line as they have their own problems pressuring the quarterback. So far this season the Jets have only recorded 28 sacks, the seventh-worst sack total in the league. The Texans defense should also be able to create extra possessions due to rookie QB, Sam Darnold’s, propensity to turn the ball over. With good field position all game and time to throw, Watson should have a big game this week. The fact that the Jets also allow the sixth most yards per game on the ground should allow Watson to run rampant as well.
Sit This Quarterback:
Andew Luck, Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys
Luck has displayed superstar talent this year but finds himself pitted against a formidable opponent in Week 15. A lot will be asked of Andrew Luck in this matchup against the eighth-best pass defense in the NFL by yardage. While I believe he has the talent to overcome this on a normal day, the fact that he will be without No.1 WR T.Y Hilton worries me this weekend. While Eric Ebron has shown he can be the focal point of this Colts offense, the lack of alternative targets will present the Cowboys with a clear blueprint to stopping these Colts and Luck by association. Worse still, the Cowboys have only surrendered 19 TDs through the air this season (seventh-best in the NFL) and ultimately those scores drive points. The fact that Dallas hasn’t ranked outside the top five in rush defense over the past four games wont help Indianapolis diversify their attack either. You could be find some Luck with another starting QB this week.
Start These Wide Receivers
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers
Expect a bounce-back from the formerly ineffective Chicago Bears offense in this game and expect Allen Robinson to be a big reason why. So far this season the Green Bay Packers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position and are a bottom-third unit when it comes to creating turnovers through interceptions. While the Packers overall pass defense numbers aren’t terrible, the Bears hold one of the slate’s highest implied point totals in Week 15 (25.5, 7th). If Chicago wishes to outscore Aaron Rodgers in this contest they’ll need to match him stride for stride through the air. Robinson should be at the heart of that effort.
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos
This recommendation comes in lock step with my previous suggestion to start Baker Mayfield against the struggling Denver Broncos this weekend. Though the Broncos have the second-best defensive DVOA against the pass so far this season, Landry will be the primary beneficiary of the absence of premier slot corner Chris Harris. Start Landry with confidence against a secondary that was torched through the middle last week by tight end George Kittle. The middle of the field will be open for both Landry and Njoku this week.
Sit This Wide Receiver:
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens
A road game against the Baltimore Ravens just sounds like a bad time for any offense. The statistics back up that notion. So far this season, the Ravens have graded out as the fourth-best pass defensive team DVOA, have allowed the fourth-least points to the WR position, and have allowed the fifth-least yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks. They have also allowed the fourth-least total passing yards and are a top-third unit when it comes to TDs allowed through the air. Godwin had his fair share of struggles in the last game, going only one for 13 on 10 targets. Expect another poor performance in Week 15.
Start These Running Backs:
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons
Johnson has been anything but a safe start this year with all of the Arizona Cardinals’ issues with play-calling and execution as a whole, but fantasy managers should trust him this week. The Atlanta Falcons present one of the best possible matchups for opposing running backs as they rank third to last in terms of fantasy points allowed to the RB position in 2018. Even more concerning is the fact that the Falcons have allowed the sixth-most TDs scored on the ground and the seventh-most rushing yards in the league. If Josh Rosen can limit the turnovers in this game, the Cardinals should look to Johnson to control the game clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Matt Ryan and the high-powered Falcons passing game.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are one of the most talent deficient teams in the entire NFL. One need look no further than the front seven to see why. So far this year, Oakland has given up an average of 144.5 yards on the ground per game (31st NFL). Their rush defense DVOA ranks 27th in the league and they have allowed a bottom-third 12 TDs on the ground through 14 weeks. As the Bengals continue to limit their exposure to backup QB Jeff Driskel, expect them to employ a run-heavy game plan that will feature a whole lot of Joe Mixon in Week 15. He should be an auto-start if there ever was one.
Sit This Running Back:
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The Bears domineering defense is the main reason I’d advise sitting Jones this week if at all possible. The Bears have wrecked opposing running backs so far this season and held fantasy darling, Todd Gurley, to just 58 total yards from scrimmage last week. Over the course of this season the Bears have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and average the third-least fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs. While Jones has been a difference maker as of late, I would take my chances sitting him for someone of the caliber of Lamar Miller in Week 15. A low Green Bay Packers Vegas implied points total tells me that the Packers will be looking to play catchup in this one through the air.
Start This TE:
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What do you get when you mix a running quarterback with an average air yards per attempt of only 4.2 yards?
The Answer: an involved Tight End
Though Andrews’ play, like most TEs, has been a bit unpredictable this season I am comforted by the fact that he faces a defense that has been a bottom third unit against the TE position through 14 games. Jackson has struggled to consistently connect with his downfield receivers this year and Andrews and Snead have instead been used as his first or second read. Tight end is a cluster, so this could easily go awry but I would not be opposed to starting Andrews in a smash matchup as a desperation Week 15 play.
Start These Defenses:
Sit These Defenses:
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