It’s time for our Week 15 Starts and Sits! Remember, we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s go all-in for the fantasy playoffs.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Justin Fields | Chicago Bears: Would you believe me if I told you that Justin Fields has scored at least 19.1 fantasy points in three of his last four starts? This included his last start in which he threw for 224 passing yards and two scores while rushing for 74 yards in the divisional matchup against Green Bay in Week 14. Fields is getting better as a passer while averaging over 54 rushing yards per game since Week 6. That sets Fields up to have a nice floor every single week.
He has an extremely favorable matchup this week against the Vikings. The Vikings have allowed Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and Aaron Rodgers to all score 25 or more fantasy points in three of the Vikings’ last four games. The Vikings also rank 5th-best for opposing quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points allowed on the season at 19.9 per game and over the last four weeks rank 1st allowing 22.3 per game. Fields on Monday night should be a great way to cap off the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
Jimmy Garoppolo | San Francisco 49ers: Starting Jimmy G in the fantasy playoffs is a scary proposition I get it. We’ve seen his floor as we saw in Week 7 against the Colts where he scored 7.2 fantasy points. We’ve also seen his ceiling where he put up 27.3 in Week 8 against the Bears and the stretch since then where he’s scored 18 or more fantasy points in four of his last seven games. Garoppolo is expected to have his full complement of weapons here, which makes it even more intriguing for him.
The one worry here is that Garoppolo won’t need to keep his foot on the gas against this poor Atlanta Falcons team. I’m not letting that deter me away as the Falcons have allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks at 21.2 per game and have shown they will even give up rushing yards to quarterbacks, as they’re number two in that category as well. This sets up as a great game for Jimmy G in this spot.
Ben Roethlisberger | Pittsburgh Steelers: This one is definitely the riskiest of the three in this article, but Roethlisberger ha seemed to have turned the corner recently. Over Big Ben’s last four games, he’s scored at least 19.3 fantasy points in three of them. Over the last four weeks, he’s QB5 and has thrown 40 or more times in three of those games. That is not a misprint. With how bad this Pittsburgh defense has played, Ben has had to throw just to keep his team in games.
Roethlisberger faces the Titans this week who have given up 24 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in three of their last six games. They’ve also allowed the sixth-most yards and fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Roethlisberger should be a nice streamer this week.
Quarterback to Sit:
Carson Wentz | Indianapolis Colts: Wentz has pretty much been an up-and-down quarterback all season, where he hasn’t been a quarterback you can consistently trust each week. That has shown even more so recently as Wentz has only eclipsed 11.1 fantasy points just once in his past four games, which has coincided with the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. While the Colts rank eighth in the NFL in rushing play percentage, they are third over the last three games, at over a 55% clip. This team runs through Jonathan Taylor.
According to research done by FantasyPros’ Pat Fitzmaurice, the Patriots have allowed 15 TD passes in 13 games and have recorded 19 interceptions. They’re allowing 195.5 passing yards per game and just 6.4 yards per pass attempt. In other words, that’s bad for opposing quarterbacks. New England only allows 13 points per game to opposing quarterbacks and has given up only three passing scores in their last five games. Avoid Wentz at all costs this week.
Running Backs to Start:
James Robinson | Jacksonville Jaguars: As we did with Clyde Edwards-Helaire last week, this is someone who is most likely started but not with any confidence. I’m here to persuade you to make sure Robinson is in your lineup this week. There are multiple reasons for this. Number one is that the black cloud over this team that is Urban Meyer has finally been lifted. Meyer was fired by the Jaguars Wednesday evening and now Darrell Bevell is expected to serve as the interim head coach. I would expect this change to allow the team’s best player to be put in a situation to succeed. Secondly, Carlos Hyde missed practice on Wednesday as he’s dealing with a concussion. While Kerryon Johnson has been worked out, if Hyde misses this game that would mean even more touches for Robinson. Third is of course the defense that he’s going against being the Houston Texans.
The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards to opposing running backs this season have allowed six rushing touchdowns to running backs and on the season are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to the position at 27.3 per game. This defense has also allowed nearly 31 fantasy points per game to running backs over the last month. That includes six touchdowns over that time. Make sure Robinson is in your lineup this week and he’s a top 15 play for me this week.
D’Onta Foreman | Tennessee Titans: It’s been a nice surprise that a player that’s dealt with as much injury in his career as Foreman has to finally get a chance to produce in the NFL. Foreman has scored double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three games and very narrowly missed three of four (9.8 in Week 10). The problem for Foreman will be the three-way split they have for touches in Tennessee. In the first game with all three healthy, Jeremy McNichols led the Tennessee RBs with 27 snaps, while Dontrell Hilliard had 24, and Foreman had 23. Foreman had the least amount of snaps but still produced and faired much better than the other two.
A big part of the appeal for Foreman this week is facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, who got carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey when facing Dalvin Cook in Week 14. However, the Steelers run defense has been dreadful beyond last week. The Steelers over the last month have given up nearly 37 fantasy points per game to running backs, the most in the league. The Steelers also have allowed the most touchdowns both rushing (7) and receiving (2) during that time. Foreman may not be the same skill level as the other running backs the Steelers have faced recently, but he should get the job done well enough to be a good flex play.
Duke Johnson | Miami Dolphins: There’s a saying around these parts: Death, taxes, and start your running backs against the Jets. As it stands right now, all of Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Phillip Lindsay are on the reserve/COVID-19 list. I’m also assuming Malcolm Brown does not return to this game which leaves the recently practice squad elevated Duke Johnson into the fold. While Johnson is not an attractive name, his pass catching skillset and his opponent are.
If Johnson gets to lead this backfield, he’ll face a Jets team that ranks as the best matchup for opposing running backs, giving up 35.5 fantasy points per game and the ninth-most fantasy points over the last four weeks. The Dolphins also are expected to potentially be down Jaylen Waddle in this game for the same reason as the running backs and would lead to an even greater chance Johnson can get involved in the passing game. If Johnson is the starter Sunday, he’s a decent flex play.
Running Back to Sit:
Devonta Freeman | Baltimore Ravens: I can see the appeal of wanting to play Freeman this week. He’s had at least 17 touches in four straight weeks and scored 20 or more fantasy points in two of the last four weeks. However, this week I’m a little more concerned to trust Freeman in the fantasy playoffs. In weeks 10, 12, and 14 Freeman has had 12.2 or less PPR fantasy points. He also has not rushed for more than 79 yards in a game this season and his ceiling is fairly low if he doesn’t get into the endzone.
The Packers are not a good matchup here as the injury-riddled Ravens continue to reel. The Packers only give up 21.6 fantasy points to opposing running backs (24th) and just over 20 per game over the last four weeks. In a game I expect the Ravens to have a negative game script to have to keep up, Freeman is not someone who should be in your lineup this week.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Darnell Mooney | Chicago Bears: There’s a lot to like about Darnell Mooney here as he’s one of my favorite receivers to play this week. To start, Mooney has had at least five targets in 12 of 13 games this season, which is the consistency of a true number one wide receiver in an offense. Let’s not forget that Mooney was the WR5 from Weeks 9-12 despite playing in just three games. If you take out his last two duds, Mooney had scored double-digits in six of the previous eight games.
Mooney should be in for a nice bounce-back facing a weak Minnesota Vikings secondary. The Vikings have allowed 43 fantasy points per game to receivers this year. The most of any team outside of Tennessee this season. Over the last four weeks, it hasn’t been any better as they have allowed a whopping 53 fantasy points per game to the position. According to research done by CBS’ Jamey Eisenberg, nine wide receivers have scored 12 or more PPR points over this time span. Start Mooney as a WR2 comfortably this week.
Van Jefferson | Los Angeles Rams: Drive the Van into the fantasy playoffs! Odell Beckham has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and will miss the Rams game against the Seahawks in Week 15. Jefferson has scored a touchdown in three games in a row, and he has at least seven targets in four of his past five outings. Jefferson is actually the WR17 over the last two games and now has room for even more targets and opportunity with Beckham out of the lineup.
The Seahawks have recently been better against wide receivers as they are a top 10 defense against them over the last four weeks. However, the volume and opportunity that Jefferson will get as the #2 in this offense mean he needs to be in your lineup.
Brandon Aiyuk | San Francisco 49ers: Mr. Aiyuk is one of the hardest players to try and judge in fantasy football. We went into the year thinking he was going to be THE man in this offense, only to watch him quickly get into the doghouse. Recently, he’s been a lot better but still not the player you drafted and hoped for in the first six or seven rounds of your draft. Aiyuk has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of his last four outings and received 30 targets over that time. Aiyuk has also had at least 50 yards in five of his last six games.
Aiyuk faces an Atlanta secondary that gives up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season at 38.5 per game and the sixth-most over the last four weeks. I would expect star-studded cornerback A.J. Terrell to focus on Deebo Samuel more in this matchup with Elijah Mitchell expected to return and that will allow Aiyuk to feast on all their other cornerbacks.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Terry McLaurin | Washington Football Team: It feels almost dirty to put Terry McLaurin in this section. The reality is, you need to seriously consider benching him in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. As of this writing, McLaurin was still in the concussion protocols and isn’t practicing. If he doesn’t play, that will make your decision even easier. If he does, you’d be playing someone whose scored single-digit fantasy points in four of his last six games and five of his last six of 11.9 or fewer. He also has a beat-up Taylor Heinicke throwing him the ball this week with Kyle Allen now on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
McLaurin’s matchup against the Eagles isn’t a good one either. Philadelphia ranks as the third-worst matchup for opposing wide receivers, giving up a total of 28.8 fantasy points per game. I would also expect Darius Slay to give McLaurin some trouble in this matchup. McLaurin should be considered a flex play at best this week.
Tight End to Start:
John Bates| Washington Football Team: All the other columns are going to lean most likely Ricky Seals-Jones in this spot, but I like getting a little different here with Bates. Last week it was Bates and not RSJ that was on the field for more snaps (48-31) and ran more routes (31-20). He’s a rookie that with Logan Thomas done for the rest of this season and part of next season, Washington might want to give more run than the veteran.
It’s a dream matchup as Washington faces the Eagles who have given up 18.6 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, the worst in football. They also have given up a touchdown to a tight end in three straight games. Start your tight ends against Philadelphia and for me it’s Bates this week over RSJ.
Tight End to Sit:
Tyler Conklin | Minnesota Vikings: Not much needed here. Tyler Conklin struggled in Week 14 against Pittsburgh. He recorded just two catches for 20 yards on two targets and hasn’t managed to find the endzone since Week 10. Conklin has scored 6.5 fantasy points or less in three of his last four outings and does not seem to be a consistent part of this offense.
The matchup Conklin faces against the Bears isn’t great either. The Bears allowed under 10 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and only allowed one to score over the last four weeks. Keep Conklin on the bench.