Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: Fantasy Studs Key for Continuing Playoff Run

R. Cory Smith@@RCorySmithSenior Writer IDecember 10, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates running back Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers on a play against the Seattle Seahawks late in the fourth quarter on December 8, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The play set up the winning field goal in the 49ers 19-17 win.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Not all playoffs are created equal, so whether some owners are entering their second week or first week of the playoffs: Welcome. For those who didn't advance or are in the consolation rounds, there is still plenty to play for; namely not being the worst in the league.

With names like Josh McCown and Andrew Luck joining Peyton Manning and Drew Brees as some of the top scoring players this week, some are bound to continue their success while others could see a huge drop this week. And in the playoffs, no one can afford a dud.

Here are this week's start 'em sit 'em, beginning at that very position with an unpredictable lock to have success this weekend for fantasy owners.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the St. Louis Rams during the third quarter at Candlestick Park on December 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/G
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


Start 'Em: Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

Remember when someone drafted Kaepernick in the early rounds of the fantasy draft to get extra points for rushing yards and touchdowns? Yeah, well that guy or girl can likely start him this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay has given up the 10th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season according to and are 17th in the league at stopping the pass. More importantly for fantasy owners of the Nevada product, the Bucs have surrendered—pun intended—24 passing touchdowns this season.

Going against the ninth-ranked rushing defense, expect the 49ers to lean heavily on Kaepernick and for the second-year signal-caller to finish with over 20 points for the first time since his last road game against the Washington Redskins.

Prediction: 27 fantasy points

Dec 1, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) gets up after being sacked during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports


Sit 'Em: Carson Palmer, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals

One of the most surprising fantasy quarterbacks from Weeks 11 through 13, Carson Palmer fell back to earth in Week 14 against the St. Louis Rams. But he's going against the Titans, who just gave up over 30 points to Peyton Manning, so I should start him, right? Wrong.

Prior to its game against Denver, Tennessee had only given up eight passing touchdowns on the year. Also, that was Peyton Manning throwing the ball. Palmer will be facing a pissed off Titans team looking to rectify that performance and keep themselves in the playoff chase.

After putting up less than 15 points against the Rams, Palmer will be lucky to exceed that total this week as well against the Titans.

Prediction: 13 fantasy points

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Tom Brady #12 and Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots celebrate a third quarter touchdown during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/G
Scott Halleran/Getty Images


Start 'Em: Shane Vereen, running back, New England Patriots

Here are the facts: The Miami Dolphins are not good at stopping the run and not much better at stopping the pass. Luckily for fantasy owners of Shane Vereen, he's proven he can tote and catch the ball just as well as anyone on the Patriots.

The reliable back has returned from injury and had two straight productive weeks as New England's best backfield partner for Tom Brady. After catching a touchdown against the Houston Texans, Vereen went off for 153 yards receiving and also scored a touchdown on the ground against the Cleveland Browns.

While owners might be unreasonable to expect another 20-plus-point game, the likelihood of Vereen going off for over 15 points against the Dolphins seems pretty solid.

Prediction: 18 fantasy points

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 8:  Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans jumps over a defender while carrying the ball during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 8, 2013 in Denver,
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images


Sit 'Em: Chris Johnson, running back, Tennessee Titans

Last week, Zac Stacy, a candidate for fantasy pickup of the year, finished with just eight points against the Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams running back had just 25 yards rushing and ran for a garbage-time touchdown to boost his points for loyal fantasy owners who started him.

This week, Chris Johnson faces the daunting task of lining up against one of the league's best rushing defenses when the Titans play those Cardinals. As one of the most erratic running backs in the league, it's still tough to sit Johnson because of his ability to put up 15-25 points on any given Sunday, but he won't do that in Week 15.

Along with holding opposing teams to just 84.5 rushing yards per game, the Cardinals have only allowed five touchdowns on the ground all season. Chris Johnson simply isn't a smart start this week unless owners are unsure of other options or are decimated by injuries.

Prediction: Nine points


GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 08: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the football after making a catch during the second half of play against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field on December 08, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McG
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images


Start 'Em: Jordy Nelson, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

As a rule, any wide receiver facing the Dallas Cowboys has the likelihood of putting up astronomical numbers. Despite Aaron Rodger's status for the Packers matchup with the Cowboys, even backup quarterbacks like Josh McCown can easily find wide-open receivers against the worst passing defense in the league.

Nelson hasn't enjoyed a double-digit point week since Week 11 against the New York Giants but will be the No. 1 target this Sunday for either Rodgers or Matt Flynn going against the Cowboys. If Rodgers does just so happen to return, expect the connection to be there all game as the two connected for over 80 yards five times earlier this season.

Nelson still has a ceiling of a WR2 this week with some other great wide receivers to fill in for the WR1 role, but he is a great replacement for injured stars who might miss time this week or others who simply have bad matchups.

Prediction: 17 points

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 9: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears makes a catch in front of Jeff Heath #38 of the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter on December 9, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images


Sit 'Em: Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Chicago Bears

Brandon Marshall, meet Joe Haden. Joe Haden, meet Brandon Marshall. After facing the aforementioned Cowboys' atrocious pass defense, Marshall will now be matched up against one of the best corners in the league when the Chicago Bears take on the Cleveland Browns.

Aside from just Haden, the Browns also have the eighth-ranked passing defense in the league, giving up just 222 passing yards per game. And whether McCown is yet again behind center or Jay Cutler returns, either one will have a difficult time getting the ball to Marshall against a stingy pass defense that will look to shut him and Alshon Jeffery down.

It's difficult to sit Marshall in leagues with 10-14 owners, but the big-name receiver should ride the pine if owners have the luxury of other great wide receivers.

Prediction: 10 points


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