Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 15
With only one week to go before most leagues have their championship game, there has never been a more important week in fantasy football this season.
As start-sit decisions have a greater potential impact than at any other point this season, you will find below some players that fall into a "start'em" or "sit'em" category. That said, your league's depth and scoring settings as well as your team's roster composition will ultimately determine who should be started.
To get a better sense of whether you should start one player over another, check out my Week 15 fantasy rankings, which include standard and PPR-scoring rankings as well as flex rankings.
For questions that can't be answered via my rankings due to unique scoring settings, feel free to send me start-sit questions via Twitter (@EDSFootball).
That said, here are some players to consider starting in Week 15:
QB - Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (at MIN)
In the snowy conditions at Lincoln Field last week, Foles finally threw an interception for the first time in his 218 pass attempts this season. Foles now has a 20:1 TD-to-INT ratio and he's scored three rushing touchdowns as well.
While a lot of attention has been given to his interception-free performances heading into last week, I'm not sure how many have noticed that he has 32 rush attempts for 130 yards and two touchdowns over the past four games. Nobody will confuse Foles for Michael Vick, that's for sure, but that's an average of 7.25 fantasy points from rushing alone during the past four games.
With the exception of the Cowboys, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and no team has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Vikings this season.
QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at CLE)
Despite the success of Josh McCown, 350-plus yards in three straight and a 13:1 TD-to-INT ratio this season, all signs are pointing to Cutler getting the start in Week 15 as he returns from his ankle and groin injuries. Either way, however, I'd start whichever Bears quarterback gets the start this week.
The Bears are loaded with a trio of talented pass-catching weapons in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall on the outside and Matt Forte out of the backfield. Both Jeffery (fifth) and Marshall (eight) rank in the top eight in the NFL in receiving yards and Forte is tied with San Diego's Danny Woodhead for most receptions (65) by a running back.
While one of Marshall and Jeffery will have to contend with shutdown corner Joe Haden, the other won't. After allowing only two passing touchdowns in their first five games, the Browns have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in eight consecutive games.
RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (vs. WAS)
With injury derailing his season early on, Jackson has had a healthy workload in each of his past three games and has been running the ball well. During that span, Jackson has 54 carries for 218 yards and three touchdowns in addition to five receptions for 25 yards.
This week, he faces a Redskins team that appears to have thrown in the towel. Even before all of the attention on the team's dysfunction at the top of the organization, the team was bad against the run. On the season, Washington has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and they have surrendered nine touchdowns to RBs in their past five games.
RB - Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)
Mathews had a season-high 29 carries last week for 103 yards and a touchdown, but he has been highly productive over the past eight games. During that span, Mathews has four 100-yard games, has scored all four of his touchdowns this season and is averaging 4.65 yards per carry.
On Thursday Night Football, the Chargers will face the Broncos, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (at MIA)
Vereen is especially a great option in point-per-reception (PPR) formats, but he is a top-10 play in standard formats as well. In his four games since returning from short-term IR, Vereen has a total of 33 receptions for 315 yards in addition to his 85 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Last week, he was targeted 17 times and finished with 12 catches for 153 yards.
The Dolphins have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals (at TEN)
Although he is barely inside my top 24 fantasy running backs this week, Mendenhall is still an RB2 in standard 12-team leagues. One week after rushing for a season-high 76 yards, Mendenhall gained only 41 yards on 17 carries last week. That said, he should get 15-plus carries in a favorable matchup and he has scored in three of his past four games.
The Titans have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In addition, they have allowed multiple rushing touchdowns in six of their last eight games.
WR - Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)
Since Week 4, Allen has 58 receptions for 872 yards and five touchdowns and only six receivers have more receiving yards than the rookie during that span. In fact, the only receiver with more 100-yard games during that span is Cleveland's Josh Gordon (six) although a few are tied with Allen at five.
WR - Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (vs. SD)
After recording just one catch for five yards a few weeks ago, Decker has back-to-back games with eight receptions and 117-plus yards. In those two games, Decker has a total of five touchdowns. While there has been some variability in Decker's production in such a loaded offense, Wes Welker will miss at least tonight's game with a concussion, which makes Decker even more of a lock for plenty of targets.
While the Broncos offense is generally matchup-proof, the Chargers secondary has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.
WR - Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (at OAK)
Bowe isn't necessarily a must-start option, but he's worth considerating as a WR2 and is ranked inside my top 24 receivers for the week. While his yardage totals over the past five weeks are relatively modest (from 51 to a season-high 70) but at least consistent, Bowe has scored a touchdown in three of his past four games.
The Raiders have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.
WR - Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (at TB)
As bad as the 49ers pass offense has been this season, you may not have noticed how productive Boldin has been over the past four weeks. During that span, Boldin has a minimum of nine fantasy points in each game and he has a total of 26 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He has more than 90 yards in three consecutive games.
TE - Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens (at DET)
In his season debut last week, Pitta was productive and targeted more than any other Raven. He finished the game with six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on his 11 targets. Going forward, he should continue to be heavily targeted in general and especially in the red zone.
The Lions have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points and only one touchdown to tight ends this season, but Pitta is still a top-10 (or better) option for the rest of the season.
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Here are some players to possibly sit for Week 15:
QB - Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. SEA)
If you own Manning, you likely don't need me to tell you to sit him. If you do, there's a good chance you're no longer playing in meaningful fantasy matchups anyways. Even those in much deeper leagues, however, Manning is still not worth starting with a tough matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Going into the final three games of the season, Manning has only one game with 20-plus fantasy points and that was Week 1 against the league's most generous fantasy defense. With three consecutive plus matchups in the previous weeks against DAL, WAS and SD, Manning scored 14, 11 and 10 fantasy points, respectively. Manning has thrown more interceptions (20) than touchdowns (16).
RB - Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens (at DET)
The Lions allowed LeSean McCoy to set the Eagles' single-game rushing record last week, but that was partly/largely due to the conditions. Before last week, the Lions had not allowed a rushing touchdown in eight consecutive games and limited a team's running backs to 61 rushing yards or less in each of those eight games.
Rice has only four games with double-digit fantasy points this season and all four of those games were in plus matchups: DEN, MIA, CHI and MIN. Averaging only 3.0 yards per carry this season, Rice is more likely to struggle in a difficult matchup on a dry surface in the dome.
RB - DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. NYJ)
Although The Daily Show will miss Week 15 with a knee injury and Williams could be in store for a relatively large workload similar to his games at the beginning of the year, he has a difficult matchup this week. Like the Lions, the Jets had an off game last week, but I expect them to bounce back and stifle the Panthers rushing attack this week.
RB - Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (vs. ARI)
I'm guessing that few would know that only six running backs have scored more fantasy points than CJ2K this season. There's a big gap between RB6 (Marshawn Lynch) and RB7 (Johnson), but that's still impressive. That said, Johnson is currently my RB25 for the week, which puts him just outside being an RB2 in 12-team leagues based on my rankings.
No team has been better than the Cardinals at limiting fantasy production by opposing running backs. They have allowed 10 fantasy points or less to opposing running backs in six consecutive games.
RB - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (at STL)
Thomas had been relatively productive and worthy of starting as an RB2 many weeks earlier in the season, but he has 11 carries for 14 yards in his past two games combined. While he has at least four receptions in each of his past five games and 64 catches on the season, he has just two fantasy points in each of his past two games in standard-scoring formats.
WR - T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (vs. HOU)
The first time this season that Hilton faced the Texans, he scored a season-high 30 fantasy points. I'll go out on a limb and say that he will score less this around. Much less. Ok, that's not really going on a limb. Over his past four games, Hilton has scored a total of 11 fantasy points and he had only two catches for seven yards last week.
WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
It's been an up-and-down season for Wallace in Miami and there have been more down (than up) performances. Against his former team last week, 60 Minutes had just two catches for 19 yards. Wallace has had four or less fantasy points in seven games this season.
With a tough matchup against Aqib Talib, Wallace could have another game with just a few fantasy points this week.
WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (at TEN)
Floyd had a nice three-game run with a total of 50 fantasy points from Weeks 11 to 13 before last week's modest performance against the Rams. Dealing with an ankle injury and not practicing on Wednesday, Floyd goes into a tough matchup against the Titans at less than 100 percent.
Only the Seahawks have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Titans. Unfortunately for Floyd, the Seahawks are his Week 16 matchup as well.
WR - Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (vs. SEA)
Nicks has had a relatively disappointing season, but he had one of his best performances last week with five catches for 135 yards. On the year, however, he has yet to score a touchdown. As noted above, the Seahawks have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.
TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (at CLE)
Playing alongside such a talented trio of Marshall, Jeffery and Forte, Bennett has been solid but not spectacular this season. Bennett has four fantasy points or less in five of the six games since the team's bye. There are at least 12 other options at the position that are a better play than Bennett this week.
Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings:
- Week 15 Fantasy Football QB Rankings
- Week 15 Fantasy Football RB Rankings
- Week 15 Fantasy Football WR Rankings
- Week 15 Fantasy Football TE Rankings
Week 15 Daily Fantasy Football Salary-Cap Analysis: