Who can you trust in Week 15 of fantasy football? @pauliep97 tells you who to start and who to sit.
Start ‘em: Quarterbacks
Drew Brees, Saints
Drew Brees is the QB3 for the season, but after a string of disappointing fantasy performances, you might be wondering if he’s still a strong starting option. Against the Panthers, who have allowed ten different QBs to throw two or more passing TDs, I believe that he is. A successful run game has contributed to Drew’s recent dip in production, but the Panthers’ stout run defense (97.8 YPG allowed) could force Brees to attempt a few more passes than usual.
Jared Goff, Rams
If Jared Goff hasn’t already cost you your playoff matchup, you should feel more confident about starting him this week. In his home stadium, Goff is averaging 366.5 YPG and completing 70% of his passes, but those figures drop to 247.9 and 59% on the road. Goff has also thrown twice as many touchdowns in Los Angeles than on the road (18 to 9). Those massive splits, paired with a much easier matchup against the Eagles — 24th against QBs — should be enough to ensure a bounce-back from Goff.
Sit ‘em: Quarterbacks
Josh Johnson, Redskins
Josh Johnson played basically one half of football on a depleted Redskins offense and finished as the QB3 for the week. Before Week 14, Josh Johnson had not attempted a pass in an NFL game since 2011. I have no way of explaining Johnson’s performance, but I do know that he is unlikely to repeat it, especially against the Jaguars, who, for all of their defensive woes this season, still rank 9th against fantasy QBs. If you’re a frustrated Goff, Wilson, Brees, or Cousins owner, I can assure you that Johnson is not the answer.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
After a strong stretch in the middle of the season, Baker Mayfield has come back down to earth with back-to-back finishes as QB18 and QB20, respectively. The volume of Cleveland’s offense is enough to support a solid floor for Baker, but, with just two games of 300 or more passing yards, the ceiling does seem to be relatively low. I would look for other options this week as Baker goes on the road to face the Broncos, who rank 12th against fantasy QBs and 5th in interceptions.
Other players to sit: Ryan Tannehill vs. Vikings; Dak Prescott vs. Colts
Start ‘em: Running Backs
Chris Carson, Seahawks
Riding on volume and goal line work, Chris Carson is the RB13 over the past three weeks. With 22 carries in Week 14 — his highest total since Week 8 — Carson has once again proven himself healthy enough to trust on a week to week basis. Carson may not be efficient this week against the 49ers, who have tightened up their run defense lately, but with 20+ carries he should still deliver solid fantasy numbers.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Perhaps Carson’s polar opposite, Dalvin Cook has received neither high volume nor goal line work since returning to the lineup for Minnesota. Yet, mostly due to his versatility in the passing game, Cook has delivered top-20 finishes in four of the past five weeks. With Coach Mike Zimmer promising to run the ball more, and a juicy matchup with Miami’s 25th-ranked RB defense on deck, Cook may be primed for a big game.
Other starters: Tevin Coleman vs. Cardinals; Doug Martin vs. Bengals
Sit ‘em: Running Backs
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
Kenyan Drake is the Tyler Lockett of running backs. You have no reason to trust him week to week because of his low usage, and, yet, he just KEEPS SCORING TOUCHDOWNS. Drake delivered a classic performance in Week 14, carrying the ball just 6 times on the day and taking his lone “target” 55 yards for a touchdown on an insane lateral play at the end of regulation. Perhaps Drake will prove me wrong and keep on scoring, but with just 7 carries a game over the past three weeks, and a tough matchup against the Vikings looming, I’d recommend benching him.
Gus Edwards, Ravens
Gus Edwards looked like a potential league-winner when he stole the starting gig from Alex Collins outright in Week 11. Now fast-forward three weeks; Edwards hasn’t scored or caught a pass since that game, and Kenneth Dixon is back from his injury and making big plays. I know the matchup against the Buccaneers — 28th against RBs — is good for Edwards, but it could also be a trap. If Gus has to split time with Dixon, and he doesn’t find the end zone, you’re going to be disappointed once again.
Other players to sit: Derrick Henry vs. Giants; Josh Adams vs. Rams
Start ‘em: Wide Receivers
Dante Pettis, 49ers
Since Week 12, rookie Dante Pettis has scored more PPR fantasy points than Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Adam Thielen. During that time frame, Pettis has averaged 7 targets per game and scored 4 TDs. Even with Marquise Goodwin back in the lineup last week, he was still solid. If you’re in a pinch, Pettis is definitely worth flex consideration in a decent matchup against the Seahawks.
Allen Robinson, Bears
Though he’s been in a bit of a slump lately, you should know that Allen Robinson has faced a top-13 defense — in terms of wide receiver points allowed — in four straight weeks. He has also been targeted 7+ times in four of his last five, so it isn’t as though he’s being phased out of the offense. A home date with the Packers, who rank 29th against wide receivers, could be just what Robinson needs to get right.
Other starters: D.J. Moore vs. Saints; Julian Edelman vs. Steelers
Sit ‘em: Wide Receivers
Amari Cooper, Cowboys
Okay, after last week there’s no way that you’re benching Amari Cooper; however, the metrics suggest that you might be disappointed with him this week. Since he joined Dallas, and outside of his two monster games, Cooper is averaging 5.5 catches for 61 yards. Obviously, those big games count, but, unless you roster Tyreek Hill, you can’t count on those massive broken plays every week. Furthermore, the Colts defense has been tremendous against wide receivers lately. Not only do the Colts rank 6th against the position this season, they’ve actually held opposing wide receiver corps to under 10 catches in seven straight games. Just for reference, the Jaguars, who rank 1st against WRs, have allowed eight different WR corps to catch at least 10 passes. You shouldn’t replace Cooper with just anybody, but don’t be surprised if his output this week is just O.K.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
Even if Carson Wentz was healthy, Alshon Jeffery would be little more than a shaky flex option given his recent track record. But, with Nick Foles getting the start, Jeffery is basically unusable. Foles represents a downgrade for the entire Eagles offense, but his penchant for short passes over the middle especially hurts Jeffery, who makes his money catching contested passes out wide.
Other players to sit: Kenny Golladay vs. Bills; Demaryius Thomas vs. Jets
Start ‘em: Tight Ends
David Njoku, Browns
Outside of the top four or five, all tight ends are unreliable. That’s just the nature of the position this year. However, as far as talent and opportunity, David Njoku is among the best “second tier” options. His Week 14 numbers were disappointing — 3 for 35 on 4 targets — but he was still the most targeted Brown outside of Nick Chubb in what was a low-volume passing game. Though the potential for a dud will always be there, I expect Njoku to bounce back against the 27th-ranked tight end defense of the Broncos.
Ian Thomas, Panthers
Desperate for a fill-in tight end this week? Consider Ian Thomas, who has run 30+ routes in back to back games since Greg Olsen went down with a foot injury and has 14 receptions for 123 yards over that two game span. As a result of soreness in his shoulder, Cam Newton has begun to rely more heavily on the short passing game, which could mean another healthy dose of targets for Thomas in what should be a high-scoring game against the Saints.
Other starters: C.J. Uzomah vs. Raiders; Vernon Davis vs. Jaguars
Sit ‘em: Tight Ends
Trey Burton, Bears
After five straight games without a score and seven straight with 40 or fewer receiving yards, it’s time to reevaluate Trey Burton. Over the past five weeks, Burton is the TE34 behind players like Chris Herndon, Dan Arnold, and Jesse James. Sure, Burton is playing 80% of the snaps and running lots of routes, but, with so many mouths to feed in Chicago, those opportunities haven’t amounted to much. In a difficult matchup against Green Bay’s top-5 tight end defense, I would recommend looking elsewhere.
Jimmy Graham, Packers
Like Burton, Jimmy Graham began the season with a string of good performances but has since fallen off a cliff. Since Week 8, Graham has had five games with two or fewer catches. Furthermore, Graham is still nursing a broken thumb, and he has to go on the road to face a Chicago defense that just held the Rams to 6 points. Look elsewhere this week.
Other players to sit: Kyle Rudolph vs. Dolphins; Blake Jarwin vs. Colts