START EM SIT EM: WEEK 15

For those of you who went up against Amari Cooper or George Kittle in your playoff matchup last week, I feel you and I will email you with details for the support group. That was a tough pill to swallow, and one that most likely guaranteed you wouldn’t see another day. But for those that made it through and were on the winning side of these performances, congrats.

It’s not even Week 15 yet and we already saw Damien Williams go off on Thursday Night football against the Chargers for 30+ fantasy points. I remember seeing I was going up against Williams this week and literally laughed out loud with this desperation play. Wow, was I wrong.

Fantasy Football sucks, and it only gets worse in the playoffs through tough lineup decisions and historic performances from your opponent. That is why lineup decisions become ever so important. Here are some peeps that could help you win your playoff matchup and take you to the Championship:

QUARTERBACK

RUSSELL WILSON, QB SEA @ San Francisco 49ers
23.4 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

We all know Russell Wilson is a slow starter, but we also know he can go on elite scoring binges in the final weeks of the NFL season – forcing us to ask ourselves just how good could he be if he started the season on a high note?

Not counting last week’s 10 point effort against Minnesota, Wilson has averaged 29.4 FPPG in his last 8 games, which is 4th among QBs in that span (Mahomes, Newton, Roethlisberger). In that span, Wilson has only (1) 300+ yard game, while the other 3 ahead of him have 12.  He also has only 1 pass TD of 40+ yards, while the top 3 have a total of 10.

What does that mean?  It means that he is producing without big plays and doing it consistently, establishing a high floor with his rushing yards.

Wilson will take on a 49ers defense that is allowing 19.7 FPPG (8th) and 28 passing TDs (3rd).  This defense has been exposed on numerous occasions, which is evident here:

  • Week 1: Kirk Cousins 23.0 fantasy points (QB13)
  • Week 2: Matthew Stafford 32.0 fantasy points (QB9)
  • Week 3: Patrick Mahomes 32.0 fantasy points (QB8)
  • Week 4: Phillip Rivers 29.0 fantasy points (QB11)

Everyone talks about running backs as league winners in fantasy, but Russell Wilson could be a league winner for many this season.  He has a favorable matchup in Week 16 against a Chiefs defense allowing the 5th most fantasy point per game , which also happens to be the Fantasy Championship Week.  Look for Russell Wilson to finish the final 2 weeks of the fantasy season in the Top 3.

JARED GOFF, QB LAR vs. Philadelphia Eagles
26.3 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Jared Goff is averaging 7.5 FPPG in his last 2 games.  Not a typo.  And while Goff came firing out of the gate with 33.0 FPPG in his first 4 games this season, he is not inspiring confidence as of late. But before you can fade him completely, think about this.  Not counting his last 2 performances, Goff is averaging 35.0 FPPG in his last 4 games since Week 8, which is 2nd in the NFL only behind Patrick Mahomes.

He will look to bounce back against an Eagles defense that is allowing 19.0 FPPG (9th), 339 completions against (1st) and 3833 yards (2nd).  And everyone in this secondary is injured.  Here are some notable performances against this secondary:

  • Week 2: Ryan Fitzpatrick 43.0 fantasy PTS (QB6)
  • Week 4: Marcus Mariota 36.0 Fan PTS (QB5)
  • Week 7: Cam Newton 28.0 Fan PTS (QB5)
  • Week 8: Blake Bortles 21.0 Fan PTS (QB13)
  • Week 10: DAK Prescott 22.0 Fan PTS (QB9)
  • Week 11: Drew Brees 38.0 Fan PTS (QB3)
  • Week 14: Dak Prescott 35.0 fantasy points (QB1)

There is nothing to be concerned going forward with Goff. While inconsistent, he has proven capable of putting up massive fantasy points on an almost week to week basis.

DEREK CARR, QB OAK @ Cincinnati Bengals
18.1 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Don’t look now, but Derek Carr may be fantasy relevant again.  He is averaging 26.0 FPPG in his last 2 games, which is 3rd among QBs.  He is also averaging 34.8 pass attempts per game in his last 5 games, which is 7th in the NFL and has not thrown an interception in that 5 game span.

He will look to continue his strong play Week 15 against one of the worst defenses in the NFL against the pass.  The Bengals defense is allowing 21.6 FPPG (2nd), 309 completions (8th), 3690 yards (7th) and 27 TDs (4th).  Here are some recent results against this Bengals secondary:

  • Week 1: Andrew Luck 20.5 Fan PTS (QB12)
  • Week 2: Joe Flacco 21.8 Fan PTS (QB12)
  • Week 3: Cam Newton 29.6 Fan PTS (QB3)
  • Week 4: Matt Ryan 29.3 Fan PTS (QB8)
  • Week 7: Patrick Mahomes 33.8 Fan PTS (QB2)
  • Week 10: Drew Brees 28.9 Fan PTS (QB4)
  • Week 12: Baker Mayfield 34.0 Fantasy Points (QB3)

Derek Carr is not elite by any stretch of the imagination, but he has shown in recent weeks that he can be a serviceable starter.  It may be hard to trust him in the playoffs, but this is the week if any.  If you’re desperate at QB or are forced to stream a QB this week, Derek Carr is your man.

LAMAR JACKSON, QB BAL vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
24.9 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Lamar Jackson is averaging 21.7 FPPG since taking over as the starting QB in Baltimore Week 11. While hasn’t eclipsed the 200 yard passing mark in any games this season, he has only thrown for multiple scores in 1 game. This means his fantasy value is completely dependent on rushing yards, where he is averaging 82.5 rushing yards and 17.3 rushing attempts per game in his last 4 games. This keeps his floor relatively high and the passing TDs are just an added bonus.

Jackson will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who are equally as awful against the run as they are the pass. The Tampa Bay defense is allowing 20.9 FPPG (4th), 321 completions allowed (4th), 3708 yards (5th) and 29 passing TDs (2nd). Here are some recent performances against the Bucs:

  • Week 1: Drew Brees 30.0 Fantasy Points (QB2)
  • Week 3: Ben Roethlisberger 25.0 Fantasy Points (QB9)
  • Week 4: Mitchell Trubisky 43.0 Fantasy Points (QB1)
  • Week 6: Matt Ryan 28.0 Fantasy Points (QB4)
  • Week 7: Baker Mayfield 21.0 Fantasy Points (QB8)
  • Week 8: Andy Dalton 20.0 Fantasy Points (QB11)
  • Week 9: Cam Newton 21.2 Fantasy Points (QB9)
  • Week 11: Eli Manning 17.1 Fantasy Points (QB12)
  • Week 13: Cam Newton 23.0 fantasy points (QB9)

As previously mentioned, Jackson is not your prototypical pocket passer, but can rack up fantasy points with his legs and keep you and the Ravens in games. I think he should be a safe bet for 20 fantasy points this week, with the potential for even more.

JOSH ROSEN, QB ARI @ Atlanta Falcons
12.8 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Josh Rosen has not been good this season, but I don’t think it is his fault as the talent around him is non-existent. He is only averaging 9.0 FPPG in his last 3 games and should not be starting for anyone’s fantasy team (started in 1% of leagues). However, he did throw the ball 41 times Week 14, which is 9th most among QBs in the NFL. What’s more is he had an Average Depth of Target (aDOT) of 9.88 yards, which was 6th in the NFL. This shows not only that he is airing it out, but a coaching staff that is committed to get him going.

He should be in line for a large workload Week 15 against a struggling Falcons team. The Falcons defense is allowing 22.1 FPPG (1st), 314 completions (7th), 3472 yards (11th) and 27 TDs (4th).

  • Week 2: Cam Newton 29.0 Fantasy Points (QB7)
  • Week 3: Drew Brees 41.0 Fantasy Points (QB1)
  • Week 4: Andy Dalton 26.0 Fantasy Points (QB9)
  • Week 5: Ben Roethlisberger 23.0 Fantasy Points (QB7)
  • Week 6: Jameis Winston 33.0 Fantasy Points (QB1)
  • Week 7: Eli Manning 21.0 Fantasy Points (QB8)
  • Week 10: Baker Mayfield 22.6 Fantasy Points (QB8)
  • Week 12: Drew Brees 29.0 Fantasy Points (QB7)
  • Week 14: Aaron Rodgers 25.0 fantasy points (QB7)

Rosen will never instill confidence and really shouldn’t be starting for your fantasy team, but could really get going this week and could be a decent streaming option if you are desperate at QB.

RUNNING BACK

DAVID JOHNSON, RB ARI @ Atlanta Falcons
15.8 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

David Johnson has been frustrating this season, to say the least. When Mike McCoy was fired and Byron Leftwich promoted to offensive coordinator, David Johnson was sure to flourish in this offense, which was evident in his 25.5 FPPG in Weeks 10 and 11.  However, since week 12, he is only averaging 8.5 FPPG in his last 3 games, which came against favorable opponents (LAC, GB, DET). Johnson thrives being used as a receiver and runs to the outside, so hopefully Leftwich will capitalize on his strengths going forward.

Johnson should get back on track in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons defense is allowing 22.7 FPPG (5th) and 11 TDs (3rd). They have also allowed 109 Targets against (2nd), 92 Receptions (2nd), 729 receiving yards (4th) and 4 TDs (3rd) to pass catching running backs, which is part of Johnson’s skill set. Here are some recent performances against this Falcons defense:

  • Week 2: Christian McCaffrey 28.0 Fan PTS (RB2)
  • Week 3: Alvin Kamara 34.0 Fan PTS (RB1)
  • Week 4: Giovani Bernard 26.0 Fan PTS (RB9)
  • Week 5: James Conner 34.0 Fan PTS (RB1)
  • Week 6: Peyton Barber 21.0 Fan PTS (RB9)
  • Week 7: Saquon Barkley 24.0 PTS (RB5)
  • Week 10: Nick Chubb 35.9 Fan PTS (RB4)
  • Week 11: Ezekiel Elliot 31.5 Fantasy Points (RB2)
  • Week 14: Aaron Jones 19.5 fantasy points (RB7)

David Johnson has been an afterthought this season, but should greatly benefit in Week 15 in a matchup that is geared towards his strengths.  Look for Johnson to have one of his biggest games of the season.

PHILLIP LINDSAY, RB DEN vs. Cleveland Browns
15.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Phillip Lindsay is awesome, but you already know that. He is averaging 21.8 FPPG in his last 4 games, which is 4th in the NFL among RBs. While Lindsay is only averaging 16.7 touches per game (17th), he is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which is 2nd in that span only behind Saquon Barkley.  He also has 6 rushing TDs in those 4 games, which is 1st in the NFL. He’s good and will only get better going forward.

He will square off against a Browns defense in Week 15, who hasn’t been able to stop the run.  The Browns defense is allowing 22.7 FPPG (5th) 1429 yards (6th), and 14 rushing TDs (1st).  Here are some recent performances against the Browns:

  • Week 1: James Conner 35.0 Fantasy Points (RB2)
  • Week 2: Alvin Kamara 16.0 Fantasy Points (RB12)
  • Week 3: Isaiah Crowell 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB9)
  • Week 4: Marshawn Lynch 19.0 Fantasy Points (RB14)
  • Week 6: Melvin Gordon 35.0 Fantasy Points (RB3)
  • Week 8: James Conner 37.0 Fantasy Points (RB1)
  • Week 9: Kareem Hunt 33.0 Fantasy Points (RB2)
  • Week 12: Joe Mixon 20.5 Fantasy Points (RB12)
  • Week 14: Christian McCaffrey 27.0 fantasy points (RB3)

Phillip Lindsay is awesome and continues to get better every week. Even with Royce Freeman in the fold, Lindsay should continue to get the bulk of the workload down the stretch. He is awesome and is a must-start for the rest of the fantasy playoffs.

CHRIS CARSON, RB SEA @ San Francisco 49ers
12.6 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Chris Carson is averaging 13.6 FPPG in his last 4 games. And I know that doesn’t seem like much, but his numbers are solid and the fantasy points will come. Carson is averaging 17.0 carries per game (5th), 297 yards (9th) and 4.4 yards per carry (9th) in that span. He also has 3 TDs (3rd), 21 First Downs (1st), 10 runs of 10+ yards (4th) and 232 yards after contact (5th). He also has 11 avoided tackles and has been very elusive for a power back. The fantasy points have not been there, but the numbers show he has been better than advertised.

He will square off against a 49ers defense who is allowing 19.3 FPPG to opposing running backs and 10 TDs (5th). Seattle is running the ball 52.3% of the time this season, which is the most in the NFL by a wide margin (47.5%). Carson should continue to get a ton of opportunities in this one and should have one of his best weeks of the season.

TEVIN COLEMAN/ITO SMITH, RB ATL vs. Arizona Cardinals
8.8 / 4.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

I really do not know what happened to Tevin Coleman, nor can I explain it, but he was potentially a Top 10 back if anything were to happen to Devonta Freeman.  Well it did and he isn’t. He must be playing injured. From Week 6 to Week 9, Coleman was averaging 19.0 FPPG in 3 games.  From Week 10 to Week 14, Coleman was averaging 6.5 FPPG in 5 games.  That’s a  crazy drop-off with really no feasible explanation, and the Falcons are visibly worse with no presence of a running game. Ito Smith hasn’t been much better, averaging 3.8 FPPG in his last 5 games. Coleman has outcarried Smith 43 to 32 in this 5 game span, but this low volume really means nothing to either back and both are no longer fantasy relevant.

This should change in Week 15 in a favorable matchup against the Cardinals. The Cardinals defense is allowing 25.2 FPPG (2nd), 1618 yards (1st) and 16 TDs (1st).  Here are some offensive outbursts against this Cardinals run defense:

  • Week 1: Chris Thompson 24.8 Fan PTS (RB5) / Adrian Peterson 24.6 Fan PTS (RB6)
  • Week 2: Todd Gurley 28.3 Fan PTS (RB2)
  • Week 4: Mike Davis 28.4 Fan PTS (RB6)
  • Week 6: Latavius Murray 22.8 Fan PTS (RB8)
  • Week 7: Phillip Lindsay 16.6 Fan PTS (RB12)
  • Week 12: Melvin Gordon 21.0 Fantasy Points (RB10) Austin Ekeler 21.0 Fantasy Points (RB10)

It will be hard to trust both Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith down the stretch, but they should be in line for decent performances this week and should outperform their projections. Slot them in at the flex spot this week.

DOUG MARTIN, RB OAK @ Cincinnati Bengals
10.4 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Doug Martin is not flashy and hasn’t been uber productive, but he is the bell cow in Oakland and continues to get the bulk of the carries for this Raiders backfield. Martin is only averaging 13.4 yards per carry since taking over as the starter Week 8, which is 23rd in the NFL in that span. However, he has scored in his last 3 games and is making the most of his opportunities, averaging 11.8 FPPG in those 3 games.

He will face a Bengals defense in Week 15 that can’t stop anyone through the air or on the ground. The Bengals defense is allowing 26.8 FPPG (1st), 1588 yards (2nd) and 14 TDs (2nd). They are also allowing 690 receiving yards (7th) and 6 TDs (1st) to pass catching running backs, so Jalen Richard is in play. Here are some recent outcomes against this Bengals defense:

  • Week 3: Christian McCaffrey 21.4 Fan PTS (RB6)
  • Week 5: Kenyan Drake 24.5 Fan PTS (RB6)
  • Week 6: James Conner 28.9 Fan PTS (RB5)
  • Week 7: Kareem Hunt 37.1 Fan PTS (RB1)
  • Week 10: Alvin Kamara 26.2 Fan PTS (RB10), Mark Ingram 25.2 Fan PTS (RB12)
  • Week 11: Gus Edwards 19.0 Fan Points (RB10)
  • Week 12: Nick Chubb 27.5 Fantasy Points (RB3)
  • Week 13: Phillip Lindsay 29.5 fantasy points (RB3)

Doug Martin is not an elite option. He is not even a great option, but he is an option and one you can throw in your flex spot and hope for 10+ points. He should outperform his projections this week.

WIDE RECEIVER

DJ MOORE, WR CAR vs. New Orleans Saints
10.8 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

DJ Moore is the clear #1 Receiver in Carolina now. Devin Funchess has been eased back in to this offense the last 2 weeks since returning from injury, but has averaged 3.0 targets per game in these 2 games and failed to catch a pass in Week 14 against a porous Browns secondary. In his last 4 games, DJ Moore is averaging 8.25 targets per game and is leading this Panthers team in targets in that span (Moore 33, Samuel 28). Moore is also averaging 14.5 FPPG and has only caught 1 TD in that span. Imagine what he could do with a few TDs.

Moore will take on the New Orleans Saints in Carolina this week. The Saints defense is allowing 28.1 FPPG to opposing Wide Receivers (1st), 193 receptions allowed (2nd) 2668 yards (1st) and 16 TDs (5th). He will lineup across from Eli Apple this week, who has been solid this season, allowing a respectable 93.8 QB Rating against. However, he should find plenty of opportunities this week and get back on track.

BRANDIN COOKS, WR LAR vs. Philadelphia Eagles
16.5 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Brandin Cooks is a clear Top 15 receiver and an almost automatic must-start, but Cooks has fallen off a bit lately, averaging 5.7 FPPG and 7.0 Targets per game in his last 2 games. In his prior 4 games, he was averaging 16.6 FPPG and 10.0 Targets per game and fantasy owners are concerned. He is still running the 16th most routes in the NFL and continues to be a vital part of this Rams offense. The Rams will square off against an Eagles defense that is allowing:

  • 27.5 FPPG to opposing WRs (2nd)
  • 192 Receptions allowed (3rd)
  • 2543 yards (2nd)
  • 15 TDs (6th)

Brandin Cooks should get back on track this week against a secondary that has been decimated by injury.

TYLER LOCKETT, WR SEA @ San Francisco 49ers
10.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Tyler Lockett has never been targeted more than 7 times in a game this season (4.3 targets per game).  He averaged 13.9 FPPG in his first 6 games of 2018, but is only averaging 11.8 FPPG in his last 7 games. Doug Baldwin has been in and out all season with injuries, but if he is unable to go, Week 15 could be a huge week for Lockett. While Lockett is not being targeted like an elite Wide Receiver, he makes the most of his opportunities with an 86% catch rate (2nd in NFL) and a perfect 158.3 QB Rating (1st in NFL). The 49ers are allowing:

  • 26.7 FPPG to opposing WRs (4th)
  • 20 receiving TDs (1st)

The Seahawks are on a roll offensively, winning their last 4 in a row and averaging 30.2 points per game in that stretch. Russell Wilson is firing on all cylinders and with Doug Baldwin having the potential to miss a second straight game, Lockett could be in for a massive performance.  Even if Baldwin does play, Lockett should continue to be a solid option this week and Week 16 when they square off against a weak Chiefs defense. Keep starting him.

LARRY FITZGERALD, WR ARI @ ATL
8.0 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Larry Fitzgerald has been another frustrating fantasy asset and one that really cannot be trusted. But he has been targeted 15 times in his last 2 games (7.5 Targets per game) and appears to be on the rise.

Here’s a decent stat for you.  Larry Fitzgerald is averaging 6.3 targets per game this season. In games where Fitz lines up in the slot for at least 40 snaps (60%), he is averaging 9.8 targets per game. The Atlanta Falcons defense is allowing:

  • 25.9 FPPG (8th)
  • 19 TDs (2nd)

Larry Fitzgerald is not yet back in the circle of trust, but he is a great option this week and could be solid flex play that should exceed his projections.

DEDE WESTBROOK, WR JAX vs. WAS
10.4 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Since Blake Bortles was benched and Cody Kessler took over in week 13, Dede Westbrook is leading this Jaguars team in Targets with 15, or 7.5 Targets per game. Kessler offers a higher floor with these receivers than Bortles did and is more of a pure pocket passer than Bortles was. Westbrook is running 89.9% of his snaps from the slot this season and slot receivers tend to get preferential treatment from new QBs. The Redskins are allowing:

  • 26.1 FPPG to opposing WRs (7th)
  • 2351 yards (6th)
  • 18 TDs (3rd)

Dede Westbrook should pounce in week 15 against a defense that struggles against slot receivers. Look for Westbrook to be heavily involved early.

DEMARYIUS THOMAS, WR HOU @ NYJ
9.2 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Demaryius Thomas is averaging 5.3 Targets and only 9.2 FPPG since being traded from Denver. However, he is still the 2nd most targeted WR on this Texans team and there is drastic room for improvement in this offense. The Jets currently rank 25th in the NFL against #2 WRs and Thomas should see his involvement in the offense increase this week. The Jets defense is allowing:

  • 26.2 FPPG to opposing WRs (6th)
  • 189 receptions allowed (4th)
  • 2460 yards (3rd)
  • 13 TDs (8th)

Thomas may never get back to his All Pro Caliber years, but could spark this Houston offense down the stretch with a few additional targets. Look for Thomas to get back on track in Week 15.

ADAM HUMPHRIES, WR TB @ Baltimore Ravens
9.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

The Baltimore Ravens defense is very good. They are only allowing 18.3 FPPG to opposing WRs, which is the 4th best mark in the NFL. They are currently allowing the 4th fewest yards, the 6th fewest receptions and the 2nd fewest touchdowns. But they can be defeated via the slot.

The Ravens are currently allowing 14.9 FPPG to opposing slot receivers (7th). Humphries will line up across from their primary slot corner, Tavon Young, who is allowing a 124.9 QB rating against, which is the 2nd highest in the NFL against slot receivers. Humphries is averaging 6.2 targets per game this season, which is 2nd only behind Mike Evans. Look for Humphries to have a big day.

TIGHT END

JARED COOK, TE OAK @ Cincinnati Bengals
10.7 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Jared Cook is averaging 9.0 targets and 17.0 FPPG in his last 2 games. He has really developed a nice repore with Derek Carr and should continue that this week against a Bengals defense who is allowing 10.2 FPPG (3rd) 73 receptions (4th) and 8 TDs (2nd). Jared Cook has been a nice surprise this season and should continue his solid play in Week 15.

DAVID NJOKU, TE CLE @ Denver Broncos
5.8 PROJECTED FANTASY POINTS

Normally this would be a no-brainer and Njoku a must start, but with the exception of a 14 point effort in Week 12, Njoku hasn’t eclipsed the 7 point mark in 5 games. He hasn’t been the same player since leaving Week 8 with an injury and his target share is way down.

The Browns will square off against the Denver Broncos defense, who is allowing 10.1 FPPG to opposing Tight Ends (4th). They are also allowing 977 yards (2nd) and 6 TDs (4th). Look for Njoku to get back on track this week with a strong performance.

Matt Bishop

Written by 

Matt Bishop is a graduate of Rider University and currently works as a Project Manager for an Electrical Supply Distributor. He lives in North NJ with his wife and 2 children and is a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies fan. He has been playing Fantasy Football since 1997 and Fantasy Baseball since 2003. He recently discovered Fangraphs and his obsession for baseball metrics and how they can be used to draft a championship caliber team.