Fantasy football start/sit advice, Week 15
We’re on to Week 15, the second week of the playoffs for the majority of owners. It’s time to take a closer look at the best and worst matchups for the weekend.
If you’re reading this article, hopefully that means you’ve advanced to the second round of the fantasy playoffs. Some leagues are just starting their playoffs this week. Whatever your situation is, you’ll want to study up before you set your final lineup for the weekend.
Full disclosure from Week 14: Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Andre Williams were great recommended starts. Mark Sanchez, Latavius Murray, Doug Martin and Owen Daniels turned out to be smart sits. Martavius Bryant and Vincent Jackson went off, though, making the sit section a mixed bag for the week.
As we head into Week 15, the Bengals vs. Browns and 49ers vs. Seahawks matchups will make a few appearances along the way. Here are the recommended players to start and sit for the weekend.
QB Eli Manning vs. Washington: Starting Manning is sometimes a roll of the dice, but owners can feel confident firing him up against the team that allows the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks each week. Manning posted his highest point total of the season against Washington in Week 4 when he threw four touchdowns and rushed for another on Thursday night. Expect another solid week against a team that looks ready for 2014 to be over.
QB Johnny Manziel vs. Bengals: Is it wise to start a rookie making his first career start in your playoff lineup? There certainly are safer options, but Manziel’s upside is promising. The Bengals have allowed two quarterbacks to rush for 50-plus yards, including Cam Newton’s 117-yard performance on the ground in Week 6. Manziel rushed for 13 yards and a touchdown in his brief stint against Buffalo. He’s going to help fantasy owners with his ability to run. It’s hard not to get excited about his chance to finally prove himself.
RB Isaiah Crowell vs. Bengals: Assuming Manziel can do more for the Browns offense than Brian Hoyer (who had seven interceptions and zero touchdowns in the last three games), Crowell will directly benefit from the passing game’s improvement. Cincinnati gives up the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs. The Bengals have allowed 15 rushing touchdowns this season, including one to Crowell in Week 10.
RB LeGarrette Blount vs. Dolphins: Miami’s defense has been dominated by the run in recent weeks. Here are a few performances of note.
Blount is dominating the touches out of New England’s backfield since returning to the team in Week 12. The Chargers stymied the Patriots power run game in Week 14, but the Dolphins provide a much better matchup for Blount. Jonas Gray is out of the picture and Shane Vereen is filling in sparingly as far as touches go.
WR DeAndre Hopkins at Colts: Week 13 Hopkins goes off for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Week 14 he finishes with 49 yards. That’s basically a microcosm for his entire body of work in 2014. Signs point to another big game for Hopkins in Week 15, though. Andre Johnson is looking iffy after suffering a concussion against the Jaguars. Andrew Luck will surely make it a high-scoring affair, leaving the Texans to throw often down the stretch. Time for Hopkins to shine again.
WR Kenny Stills at Bears: If Cole Beasley can score twice against the Bears, we better see more than 23 yards out of Stills this time around. Stills and the Saints offense completely disappeared in Week 14 against the Panthers, which probably led to a fair amount of owners losing in the first round of the playoffs. Week 15 should show regression back towards the norm, though, as Chicago has allowed 16 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. It’s safe to bet on a bounce-back from Stills.
TE Larry Donnell vs. Washington: Recall the aforementioned four-score game from Manning? If you watched that matchup, you’ll remember Donnell catching three of the touchdowns against Washington. This defense is still allowing the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. Donnell will be hard to pass up.
QB Colin Kaepernick at Seahawks: I’m not quite sure why fantasy owners continue to start Kaepernick. He hasn’t thrown multiple passing touchdowns or broken 30 yards rushing since Week 6. In five games against Seattle, Kaepernick is averaging 1.4 interceptions and just 9.17 fantasy points per start. There is no reason to feel confident about him in Week 15.
QB Andy Dalton at Browns: Sticking with the trend of historically struggling against a particular opponent, Dalton has not fared well against Cleveland. In seven games he’s averaged 1.4 interceptions and 205 passing yards per matchup. He threw for 86 yards and three picks in Week 10 against the Browns. It’s sad I feel more confident starting Manziel over Dalton in the playoffs, but here we are.
RB Trent Richardson vs. Texans: So much for that revenge game. Richardson rushed for 30 yards on seven carries and did not record a catch against the Browns in Week 14. Dan Herron played 16 more snaps than Richardson in that game. The Texans have allowed just six rushing touchdowns to running backs. Richardson is not worth starting once again.
RB Giovani Bernard at Browns: Bernard has technically been the starter since returning from his hip injury, but Jeremy Hill recorded more touches over the past three games and has now been named the starter for Week 15. Bernard rushed for 17 yards on six carries last week against Steelers. He doesn’t get goal line carries and he isn’t seeing a ton of working in the receiving game. After hearing talk of the Bengals wanting to focus more on one running back, Bernard’s situation doesn’t look promising for Sunday.
WR Michael Crabtree at Seahawks: If we’re not expecting much from Kaepernick, sitting Crabtree is a smart route to follow as well. He caught just three passes for 10 yards against the Seahawks in Week 12. In six games against Seattle, Crabtree is averaging 5.67 fantasy points per game. He hasn’t scored a touchdown on this defense.
WR Doug Baldwin vs. 49ers: Just two weeks ago Baldwin caught two passes for 28 yards against the 49ers. His 97-yard, one-touchdown game in Week 14 shouldn’t make you forget the rest of the season. Baldwin is the main beneficiary when the Seahawks decide increase the number of pass attempts, but he only has three games with 60-plus receiving yards. The Niners offense is averaging 12.25 points per game over the last four weeks. This won’t be a game in which Seattle needs to throw often.
TE Heath Miller at Falcons: Despite giving up the most passing yards per game, the Falcons have been stingy against opposing tight ends. Atlanta allows the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. Only two tight ends have scored against the Falcons. Maybe that’s because wide receivers are having a field day on their secondary. Whatever the reason, the inconsistent Miller is one you should sit.