2014 Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em WEEK 15
2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL: START ‘EM or SIT ‘EM WEEK 15
Now that every league is going to be entering the playoffs this weekend, or already one week deep, I'm going to switch up the start 'em and sit 'em. Now is the time of year that you prepared for. Why you studied pre-draft. Why you worked the waiver wire hard. Why you made that last-minute trade before the regular season ended. So instead of just putting names up of players that may or may not be in the playoffs here's how this is going to work:
1. Studs are Studs! They will continue to be listed as they have been the entire season and should ALWAYS be played!
2. After our stud list I will post the "Must Start" list. These are the players a step below our studs (borderline stud basically). These players should be in your line up virtually throughout the playoffs unless someone is injured or potential weather is coming to town.
3. After you have your studs and "must starts" in your line up then we will move onto "Flex plays." These will be the players you will use to round out your line-ups for the week.
4. Finally I will throw up a few D/ST and K's that are good starts for the week, because at this point D/ST and K's will be a factor.
*You may notice there aren't any sits this week, and won't be the last few weeks. While sitting certain players is important, the more important factor is WHO IS IN YOUR LINE UP! So we are going to get some positive vibes flowing for your playoff run!
Peyton Manning Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears (Monday Night)
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings
Andrew Luck Colts vs. Houston Texans
QB MUST STARTS
Ben Rothelisberger Pittsburgh Steelers @ Atlanta Falcons:
In his last 6 games Big Ben has thrown for 340 or more yards in 5, multiple touchdowns in 4 (with at least 1TD in each game), and is averaging just under 31 points per game over that span. The Falcons have given up over 20 points to quarterbacks every week but 2 since week 5 (the other 2 weeks they gave up 17 & 19). Steelers need a win to stay in the playoffs race, fast track indoors in Atlanta in a probable shoot out. Roethlisberger should put up a ton of points this week.
Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings:
In 9 career starts against the Vikings, Stafford is averaging 265 yards per game with 13 touchdown passes versus just 4 interceptions. And in his last 3 home games against Minnesota, Stafford has thrown for over 300 yards twice and has 5 total touchdowns versus just a single pick. Detroit needs to keep pace with the Packers for a shot at the NFC north title and Stafford is 7-2 in the division since the start of
last year. On the road against the NFC north this year the Vikings have allowed a combined 486 yards with 6 touchdowns to Rodgers and Cutler.
Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night):
Tony Romo has the Cowboys a perfect 6-0 on the road this year with 15 of his 25 touchdowns and just 1 of his 8 interceptions coming away from Dallas. The Eagles have allowed 6 of 7 quarterbacks to come into Philadelphia and post 20 or more fantasy points, with 3 of those going over 30. Romo has failed to hit 20 points on the road just once this year, which was his first road trip of the year back in week 2. Oh and the winner of this game will have a firm grasp on the NFC east crown. Philadelphia won in Dallas. Revenge will be on the minds of all the Cowboys.
QB FLEX PLAYS
Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos:
I know Rivers has had a few down weeks which makes people weary of him, and if there is a better option on the waiver feel free to go that route but Rivers is going o have a bounce back week against the 5th worst defense at stopping QBs. Denver is giving up 23 points per game to quarterbacks, 1 of 6 teams to allow 23+ per to QBs. Rivers has faced the Broncos at home 8 times in his career since becoming the Chargers starter in 2006. He has at least 1 touchdown pass in every one of those games, under 200 yards just twice (189 & 188 in those games), and in his last 3 games against Denver (including the playoffs) Rivers has 7TD passes against just 1INT while averaging 211 yards. Bolts must win to have any prayer at the division and to keep pace in the crowded AFC wild card picture.
Mark Sanchez Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night):
Just 2 weeks ago Sanchez hung 20 on Dallas in Dallas. Last week the Seahawks embarrassed him in front of his hometown fans mustering a pathetic 9 fantasy points (including just 96 passing yards). Sanchez averaged 21 at home this year, while the Cowboys have been allowing 21 per game in the road to quarterbacks. All the signs are there for a high-scoring game and the numbers line up perfectly for Sanchez to have a solid day in the fantasy world.
Jay Cutler Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints (Monday Night):
No Marshall is definitely a blow for Cutler, but thankfully he gets the Saints marching into town on Monday night with their 24 points per game given up to quarterbacks. The Saints have the 4th fewest interceptions (just 8) while they have allowed 25 total TDs to be scored on them (7th most). In his 6 home games in 2014 Cutler has 4 games with 250+ yards, including 3 games with 300+ and at least 1 TD toss in each (4 with multiple). Jay also has a great touchdown to interception ratio on Monday Night Football at 22:7 in 13 career games while averaging 221 yards in those contests.
Le'Veon Bell, Steelers vs. Falcons
LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night)
Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders
Matt Forte Chicago Bears vs New Orelans Saints (Monday Night)
Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers
Demarco Murray Cowboys vs. Eagles
Justin Forsett Ravens vs. Jaguars
RB MUST STARTS
Justin Forsett Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jacksonville's 13 rush touchdowns allowed this year are the 3rd most in the league and 8 of those have come on the road. They allow 22 points per game to RBs while Forsett has averaged 14.5 points per game since week 4. And since that game versus Carolina all the way back in September, Forsett has had a touchdown or 95 total yards in all but 1 of those 10 contests, and at least 9 fantasy points in each of those games.
Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears (Monday Night):
The Saints got absolutely smoked last week which meant catch up mode, which meant not a lot of touches for Ingram, which is why he posted just 5 points. That’s his 3rd worst total of the season, and after he posted sub-five points the last 2 times he came back strong with 294 rush yards (over 100 in both games) and 1 total TD. Now he's heading to a situation in Chicago under much turmoil. Talks of the defensive coordinator being fired. A Bears team out of the playoffs with nothing to play for. And he's on a Saints team that must win to stay in the NFC south race. The Bears run D had a lot of bend-but-not-break moments this year, but the past 2 weeks they broke and the floodgates opened. The Lions Joique Bell and Cowboys Demarco Murray combined for 335 total yards and 3 total TDs. And the last 3 games the Saints faced the Bears their top RB has averaged 100 total yards per contest with 5 total TDs in those 3.
Lamar Miller Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots:
In 3 career games against the Patriots, Miller is averaging 83 yards per game. He finally broke into the end zone versus New England week 1 of this year, and I think he finds himself the end zone again this week in Foxboro. He is going to be the focal point for the Dolphins offense this week since the Patriots rank in the bottom 12 versus RBs (allowing 19 points per game) and are still a top tier squad against the pass. Take away the Lions game the Pats dominated at home, and in their last 3 home games they are giving up a shade under 20 points per game to running backs. Against the AFC east this year the Pats have allowed the teams top back to post 19,10, and 18 points respectively and that 19 was to Miller. Another game with major playoff implications, Pats looking for home-field throughout while Miami looking to break into the postseason for the first time since 2008 and just the 4th time since 2000. If Miami gets a lead they will pound the rock to keep Brady & co off the field. Miller is going to see touches all day.
RB FLEX PLAYS
Jeremy Hill Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns:
Even with Gio Bernard back the past 3 weeks, Hill has been outproducing him. Hill has been on the field for 20 fewer snaps than Gio since week 12 but Jeremy has 6 more carries for 62 more yards and has scored 1TD while Gio still hasn't found the end zone. Hill is averaging 4.4 yards/carry since Gio's return while Bernard is a full yards less at 3.4. What about the passing game? Both Hill and Bernard have gotten 9 targets, but Hill has reeled in 8 of those 9 while Gio has caught 6. Hill has been just as involved as Gio since they've both been playing after Bernard's return and that won't stop, plus Hill gets goal line work. The Browns slowed down Hill a few weeks back in Cincinnati (just 55 yards on 12 carries) but he was still the best looking Bengals player that night, and he was pissed after that game. Can we say revenge on his mind? I think so.
Dan "Boom" Herron Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans:
I know Boom had a down week last week compared to his last few since Ahmad Bradshaw went down, but the entire Colts offense didn't start showing up until half way through the 3rd quarter. Now he's back in Indy where he's putting up 7.6 yards per carry. An outstanding number while averaging 12 fantasy points in those 2 games. The Texans are middle-of-the-pack giving up 17.5 points per game to RBs. Herron is the only real option for the Colts in the backfield now, and we know Houston's first task is slowing down Andrew Luck (who is averaging 307 yards and 2.5 TDs per game at home this year and torched the Texans in Houston earlier this season to the tune of 370 and 3TDs).
Chris Johnson New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans:
Johnson has seen 33 carries over the last 2 weeks (the most in back-to-back weeks since weeks 16 & 17 last year). He saw 41 the previous 5 weeks combined. He's also on a 9-game streak without a rushing TD, the longest streak of his career. He's had 3 other droughts of 4+ games without a rushing score, and what did he do once he found the end zone? In the 3 games that broke his touchdown-less streaks he's averaged 158 yards on the ground while putting up a combined 5TDs. Now he faces his former Titans team who rank as the 3rd worst team at stopping RBs giving up 23.5 points per game. And revenge is going to be on Johnson's mind. He hasn't been CJ2K in years but this weekend, don't be shocked to see him look like that guy again.
Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night)
Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings
Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints (Monday Night)
A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers @ Atlanta Falcons
Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
WR MUST STARTS
Mike Evans Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers:
Evans is one of the best rookie wide receivers in this amazing crop of newbies at the position. Among rookie WRs Evans currently ranks 5th in catches (57, just 6 behind Jarvis Landry for most), 1st in yards (935), 1st in touchdowns (10, which is just 2 off the NFL lead among WRs), and 2nd in fantasy points per game (1 point per game behind ODB). All that and Evans didn't real start turning it on until week 9 this year. In these last 6 weeks Evans has double-digits in 5 games, is averaging 17 points per contest, and has scored 8 of his 10 touchdowns.
Odell Beckham Jr. New York Giants vs Washington Redskins:
Beckham is the 19th highest scoring wide receiver tis year despite not playing until week 5. He's on a six-game streak of 90+ receiving yards, and has 100+ in 4 of those 6. He is by far Eli's favorite target averaging 11 targets over the last 6 games. The Redskins are a bottom 10 team against the WR and in the first match up of these 2 teams the Giants hung 45. While ODB didn't play in that game, both Victor Cruz (6 catches for 108) and Ruben Randle (8 for 89) had good games. No more Cruz and in New York for this meeting, all positive signs for Beckham this week to keep his 90-yard receiving streak intact.
Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos:
Allen and the Chargers are in. A must win situation (see Philip Rivers), so I expect big things out of this offense. Denver's pass D is middle-of-the-pack but over the last few weeks they have allowed guys like Brice Butler, Kenny Britt, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Hogan to score touchdowns on them and all but 1 of those guys had 50+ yards as well. Even though he's not having a season as good as his rookie year last year, Allen is head-and-shoulders above the above WRs mentioned. Allen is averaging 71 yards per contest in his first 4 career games against the Broncos and he has scored 5TDs in those 4 games with multiple touchdowns in 2 games.
WR FLEX PLAYS
Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
I know there will be some panic with Cam Newton being out for this game, but let's not forget that Benjamin has looked fine in the time he has played with Anderson. Remember that insane circus touchdown catch he had with Anderson in the preseason? How about the fact that Anderson was the Panthers starting quarterback week 1 in Tampa Bay and lead Carolina to a win while hitting Benji on 6 of 8 targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers are still hovering around the bottom of teams at stopping wide receivers allowing an average of 15 points per contest to WR1s on the road this season.
Steve Smith Sr. Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars:
After posting 7+ points in 5 of his first 6 games for the Ravens (4 with 10+), Smith has been a little more inconsistent of late posting 7+ just twice in his last 7 games (double-digits both times). But both those occurrences came over the last 3 weeks and Smith has a few more factors working in his favor this week. He plays the Jaguars. A team that's allowed 80+ yards and/or a touchdown to an opposing WR every week but 3 this year, and those 3 games were against offensively poor teams (Washington, Tennessee, and Houston). Smith has played in 14 career games against the AFC south and has averaged 62 yards per game while scoring 8 total TDs (2nd most against a division he didn't play in). Finally the other Ravens WR named Smith, Torrey isn't looking too good to play and if he does wil be more of a decoy which means targets galore for Smith, Steve.
Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night):
High-scoring game ... The Eagles just got embarrassed at home ... Division on the line ... I've said it all earlier in this article and I'll say it again, it all factors into this game. Matthews is still Sanchez's favorite target having scored a TD in 4 of 6 games he's played with Mark under center while having 7+ fantasy points in 5 of those 6 (double-digit games in 4 of those 6). Matthews has played 3 division games this year and has 4+ catches and 50+ yards in each with 3 total TDs. In game 1 this year in Dallas he caught 4 balls for 51 yards and a score. I'd expect similar numbers this Sunday night, if not better.
Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears (Monday Night)
Julius Thomas Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins
TE MUST STARTS
Antonio Gates San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos:
Denver is less-than-pedestrian against tight ends this year, giving up the 2nd most receptions (78), 6th most yards (789), 6th most touchdowns (7) which all equates to 8th most fantasy points at 9 per week. In thier 5 away games since week 5, Denver has allowed 4 of the 5 TEs faced to hit at least 8 points, with 3 going for double-digits and all 4 scoring a TD. In his last 3 games at home against the Broncos Gates has combined for 16 catches (28 targets) for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Martellus Bennett Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints (Monday Night):
Tight end is the thinnest position in fantasy football this season and it's not even close. Bennett has been one of the more consistent options in 2014 and is getting stronger as the year progresses. He's gotten 33 targets the past 3 weeks, catching 24 of those for 230 yards and a touchdown. Now that Brandon Marshall is done for the year his 8 targets per game have to go somewhere. Bennett seems like the most likely option to see the biggest increase in target volume the rest of the way.
TE FLEX PLAYS
Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night):
I expect a lot of points from both teams in this game but more out of Philadelphia after getting torn apart at home against Seattle. Ertz found the end zone last week for the first time since week 6. Ertz scored 4 touchdowns last season with 3 coming in the last 5 games. There are 4 games left this year, which should convert, into 2 more scores for Zach this season. Dallas is still horrible against tight ends. Giving up the most catches (85), 3rd most yards (820), and 3rd most touchdowns (10). They are also just 1 of 2 teams allowing 11 points to TEs in 2014. Ertz also has scored 5 of his 7 career TDs in Philadelphia.
Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans vs New York Jets:
The Jets have given up 12 touchdowns to tight ends this year (most in the league) and are just 1 of 5 teams to be allowing ends to score double-digit points on them. Walker is the last passing weapong left in the Titans arsenal. He's gotten 9+ targets in 3 of his last 5 games and has 5 or more targets in 9 games. He's averaging 7 points per game on the road this year, and his 42 targets from Jake Locker are the most of any receiving options for the Titans with Locker under center. With such inconsistent options at tight end, Walker is definitely a guy with high-risk high reward this weekend.
D/ST MUST START
St. Louis Rams vs Arizona Cardinals (Thursday Night):
In the last 2 weeks the Rams have 2 shut outs, 13 sacks, 7 turnovers, and 2 touchdowns. Odds are they won't pitch another shut out this week but you can't argue against the rest of those stats. Rams D/ST MUST be in your line up this week!
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers:
Over their last 4 meetings against the 49ers the Seahawks have tallied 11 sacks and 12 turnovers and are giving up just 10 points per game. The 49ers are slowing declining this seasons while Seattle has been picking up steam the last few weeks as the playoffs approach. A Seahawks win all but knocks San Francisco out of the playoffs and Seattle is going to jump at that chance.
Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings:
In their last 3 home games the Lions have 12 total sacks (at least 3 in each) and at least 2 turnovers in each. In their first game against the Vikings this season Detroit forced 3 interceptions, and sacked the quarterback 8 times while giving up just 3 points in Minnesota. Now the Vikes come to the Motor City where they have nothing to play for but the Lions are still in the NFC north race as well as the wild card. Detroit at home with something to play for ... Good luck Minnesota.
K MUST STARTS
Stephen Gostowski New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins:
Gostowski remains a top kicker in the real and fantasy worlds. He's averaging 12 points per game (more if you get bonus points for distance field goals) at home this year in 6 games and has double-digits in all those games but one. That came against the Lions and he still posted 9.
Adam Vinatieri Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans:
This dude has been doing it forever (going to be 42 in just a few weeks), and is still one of the best in the business. 100% on field goals this season, and when he's kicking under cover Vinatieri has hit 165 of his 182 chances, a 91% success rate for his career. He's also averaging better than 8 points per game against the Texans since joining the Colts in 2006, and he's hit on 29 of his 33 FG attempts in that same stretch or 88%.
Dan Bailey Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night):
Bailey is putting up 10 points on average on the road this season, with just 2 of 6 games in single digits and both of those went for 7. He is also perfect on kicks in his career against the Eagles (16 of 16 XPs & 7 for 7 FGs). A game that should see a lot of points and Bailey will be involved in all of Dallas' scoring.