Fantasy Football: Darren Sproles Leads the 'Start-or-Sit' Battles for Week 15
The following countdown details six "start-or-sit" scenarios for Week 15, factoring in competitions at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.
For the most part, the rushing and receiving conundrums were broken down with standard-scoring leagues in mind.
But, as routinely stated on The Fantasy Blog, it's hard to make rational decisions about wideouts and tight ends without factoring in receiving targets.
Enjoy the show...and good luck in the semifinal (or final) round of the playoffs!
Start: QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
2012 Stats: 3,037 Yards Passing, 13 TDs
Reasons To Start Brandon Weeden Over Joe Flacco
1. For the season, Weeden has accounted for 300 yards passing or multiple touchdowns in a game seven times.
2. The Redskins currently stand as the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense, allowing 289 yards per game.
3. Of his last seven outings, Weeden attempted 30 or more passes five times.
4. The Browns have scored 20-plus points in their last four games.
Sit: QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
2012 Stats: 3,220 Yards Passing, 20 TDs (2 Rush)
Reasons To Sit Joe Flacco (For Brandon Weeden)
1. Jim Caldwell, the Ravens' new offensive coordinator, has never specialized in calling plays at the NFL level. He'll likely need a game or two to find his rhythm.
2. The Broncos currently rank as the NFL's No. 7 pass defense, allowing only 216 yards per game.
3. Of his last seven outings, Flacco has thrown for less than 200 yards five times.
4. I don't loathe Flacco as a starting consideration in 14-team leagues. I simply believe Weeden will have a superb day against the Redskins.
Start: RB Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
2012 Stats: 636 Total Yards (173 Rushing), 6 TDs
Reasons To Start Darren Sproles Over Mikel Leshoure
1. Last week, Darren Sproles rolled for 84 yards and two touchdowns (one receiving) against the Giants. For that Sunday, he was one of six tailbacks to tally 20-plus fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.
2. Sproles collected 59 yards and one touchdown against the Bucs in Week 7.
3. Against Tampa Bay at home last year, Sproles notched 99 total yards and one touchdown.
4. The Buccaneers have the NFL's worst passing defense, allowing 311 yards per game.
Sit: RB Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions
2012 Stats: 810 Total Yards (640 Rushing), 7 TDs
Reasons To Bench Mikel Leshoure (For Darren Sproles)
1. Leshoure accounted for only 49 yards last week (against the Packers).
Of equal relevance, he had just 14 touches in a game where the Lions led for a while...and the wet balls weren't favoring deep passes.
2. Leshoure hasn't racked up 100 total yards against an NFC club this season.
3. The Lions have been known to randomly split carries and touches between Leshoure and Joique Bell. That alone can motivate fantasy owners to look elsewhere at the flex spot for playoff Week 15.
Start: WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2012 Stats: 51 Catches, 592 Yards, 2 TDs
Reasons To Start Antonio Brown Over Pierre Garcon
1. Through 10 games, Antonio Brown has collected eight or more targets eight times.
2. It appears Brown has fully recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him a few weeks ago.
3. With teammate Mike Wallace riding a hot streak (two touchdowns last week), Brown will likely have plenty of room to maneuver on intermediate routes against the Cowboys.
4. Brown is a viable candidate for eight receptions and double-digit targets on Sunday, with one possible trip to the end zone as well.
Sit: WR Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
2012 Stats: 28 Catches, 437 Yards, 4 TDs
Reasons To Bench Pierre Garcon (For Antonio Brown)
1. Browns cornerback Joe Haden will likely cover Garcon, Washington's best receiver, for most of Sunday afternoon.
2. If Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was fully healthy this week, Garcon (284 yards, three TDs for Weeks 12-14) would have likely garnered a top-20 ranking among receivers.
But with the specter of Kirk Cousins making his first NFL start on the road, it's hard to imagine any Redskins playmaker posting big numbers in Cleveland.
Start: TE Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
2012 Stats: 70 Catches, 728 Yards, 4 TDs
Reasons To Start Brandon Myers Over Jason Witten
1. For Weeks 10-14, Brandon Myers was one of three NFL tight ends with 30 or more receptions.
2. Myers is just two weeks removed from a monster PPR outing—14 catches, 130 yards and one touchdown against the Browns.
3. Since Week 7, Myers has averaged nine catches, 12 targets, 72 yards and one TD during odd-numbered weeks. As luck would have it, he's on course for another odd-week reckoning on Sunday (against the Chiefs).
Sit: TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
2012 Stats: 45 Catches, 412 Yards, 8 TDs
Reasons To Bench Jason Witten (For Brandon Myers)
1. Jason Witten hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 4, his lone score of the season.
2. Against AFC North clubs, Witten has respectable per-game averages of six catches and 67 yards. But once again, no touchdowns for 2012.
3. The Steelers currently have the NFL's top-ranked pass defense.
4. In the two leagues where I own Witten and Myers (one PPR, one standard scoring), the Raiders pass-catcher will get the nod in both playoff clashes.
Start: RB Montell Owens, Jacksonville Jaguars
2012 Stats: 150 Total Yards (120 Rushing), 1 TD
Reasons To Start Montell Owens Over Ryan Mathews
1. Montell Owens racked up 102 total yards (91 rushing) and one touchdown against the Jets last week—his first career pro start at running back.
2. The tailback-thin Jaguars will likely count on Owens for 18 or more touches this week.
3. The Dolphins have collectively allowed 96-plus rushing yards in each of their last eight games.
Sit: RB Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
2012 Stats: 929 Total Yards (685 Rushing), 1 TD
Reasons To Bench Ryan Mathews (For Montell Owens)
1. Ryan Mathews hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 5, his lone score of the season.
2. Mathews hasn't tallied 100 total yards in a single game since Week 8.
3. Two weeks ago, Mathews posted a season-low 12 touches against the Bengals. And last Sunday, the Chargers back averaged only 2.6 yards per carry against the Steelers.
4. Mathews has been one of the year's biggest fantasy disappointments. That aside, he still has the talent to roll for 110 yards or one TD against the Panthers.
Hopefully, I won't look too foolish on Monday morning.
Start: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
2012 Stats: 71 Catches, 777 Yards, 8 TDs (1 Kick Return)
Reasons To Start Randall Cobb Over T.Y. Hilton
1. With Jordy Nelson out of the Packers lineup, Randall Cobb caught seven balls for 102 yards last week against the Lions.
2. Since Week 4, Cobb has crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown nine times.
3. From Weeks 7-11, spanning four outings, Cobb scored six touchdowns.
4. Cobb stands as a viable threat for 85 yards and one score every week, regardless of opponent.
Sit: WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
2012 Stats: 41 Catches, 638 Yards, 6 TDs (1 Kick Return)
Reasons To Bench T.Y. Hilton (For Randall Cobb)
Let's start with a rationalization: Normally, I would recommend Hilton for a playoff start in 12-team leagues.
But there are some ancillary reasons for my trepidation:
1. Of his last five games, Hilton has tallied three catches or fewer three times.
2. In his last three meetings with divisional opponents, Hilton has a grand total of seven catches, 85 yards and zero scores.