Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: Final Verdict on Shaky Stars for Playoff Run

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2013

Dec 8, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) gesture at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Now is not the time to make a bad decision with a fantasy lineup with the playoffs underway.

Like any week in the fantasy world, inconsistent superstars will make life difficult on owners this week. But there is one problem—this is lose or go home territory, as opposed to the suiting-it-up and trying again next week owners get away with in the regular season.

As such, the teeth-grinding decisions require more analysis and examination than ever. Like any savvy owner knows, going to a one-stop shop is much easier than making the rounds to various sources.

Start and sit this weekend with caution, but at least go in with an informed outlook. Good luck.


Note: All fantasy scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues. Points against info courtesy of ESPN.



Start 'Em: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. HOU)

Indianapolis Colts second-year man Andrew Luck is a tough nut to crack.

While a sound option with Reggie Wayne on the field, Luck has since taken a fantasy nosedive with Wayne out. He has scored 10 or more points in seven straight games, but quarterbacks are deep enough to where that sort of production is simply not good enough.

In Week 14, Luck did right by owners brave enough to start him and was the second-highest scorer at his position with 32 points. The main component of his success? The emergence of young receivers Da'Rick Rogers (six catches, 107 yards and two scores) and LaVon Brazill (three for 53 and two).

With new weapons in tow, Luck is a must-start option. Houston allows 14.7 points to the position on average, but Luck torched the Texans for 24 fantasy points back in Week 9. Oh, and the Bengals allow just 14.4. Get Luck in those lineups.


Sit 'Em: Tom Brady, New England Patriots (at MIA)

Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) signals for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of New England's 27-26 win over the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sport
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is back to fantasy irrelevancy with the news that tight end Rob Gronkowski is out for the year according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

ESPN does an adequate job of expanding on how Gronkowski's loss hurts Brady:

Not enough to sway Brady owners? Week 15 is a date with Miami, a top-five defense against the position with an average of 12.4 points allowed.

Brady scored just six points in Week 8 against the Dolphins. Look elsewhere.


Running  Backs

Start 'Em: DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (vs. GB)

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarco Murray has now received 14 or more carries in his past four games and turned it into 12 or more points in each.

It is about time the Dallas coaching staff figured out they have a talented running back.

Before Week 10, Murray had scored 10 or more points just four times and was held to six or fewer in five.

Keep believing in Murray. The coaching staff is clearly intent on using him, and Week 15 sees him go against Green Bay, a defense that allows an average of 17.4 points to the position. Just nine teams allow more.


Sit 'Em: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)

Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) scores a touchdown past New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason (52) during second half action at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Ah yes, San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. Sometimes owners love to call the Fresno State product "Mr. Inconsistent."

That is totally a lie, but Mathews' value is not. Simply put, he cannot be trusted.

Mathews scored in the top 10 last week with 19 points against a shaky New York Giants defense. While great, it does not change the fact he has scored nine or fewer points in five contests sprinkled throughout his schedule.

Week 15 has the makings of one such contest. Denver allows 18.3 points on average to the spot, but Mathews managed just 11 back in Week 10. Now on the road, there is no guarantee he will find the end zone again against the Broncos.


Wide Receivers

Start 'Em: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (at MIN)

Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) returns a punt return against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter action in the snow and blizzard at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pi
Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY S

DeSean Jackson's stock has wildly fluctuated all season in part to quarterback changes and the fact Nick Foles is simply better buds with Riley Cooper.

All kidding aside, Jackson posted 11 points against Detroit in a blizzard last week. It was the first time he had hit double-digit points since Week 10.

But here is the thing with Jackson—all of his double-digit outings have come in pairs this year. Check it:

DeSean Jackson Fantasy Production 2013

The trend will hold up, especially in Week 15 against a Minnesota defense that allows an average of 25.2 points to the position. Three teams allow more.


Sit 'Em: Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (at STL)

Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) scores a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Hey, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston decided to show up last week. Colston exploded for 24 points—against Carolina, of all teams.

It was only the third time all year Colston broke the 10-point barrier. The other two came in Week 1 and 10. So much for consistency.

Colston is mired in a pass-happy attack with a wealth of weapons.

Now he faces a gritty St. Louis secondary that allows 21 points to the position on average. Don't think Colston has suddenly turned things around because owners are in the playoffs. Colston remains nothing but a solid bench player.


Tight Ends

Start 'Em: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns (vs. CHI)

Dec 1, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) catches a pass while being defended by Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) in the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-U
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Campbell returns for Cleveland and good things happen for Jordan Cameron owners.

Cameron posted 18 points in Week 14 against New England, catching all nine of his targets as Campbell's favorite option over the middle. It was his first time over eight points since Week 8.

With Campbell healthy, Cameron is a surefire No. 1 tight end, especially against a Chicago defense that allows an average of 8.4 points to the spot.


Sit 'Em: Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (at IND)

Dec 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans tight end Garrett Graham (88) runs after a reception against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There is a reason Garrett Graham is owned in just 33.4 percent of leagues.

While Graham was a top-five scorer in Week 14 among names like Jimmy Graham thanks to his 13 points, it is not a sign the Wisconsin product has suddenly turned things on for the playoffs.

In fact, it was only Graham's third venture over 10 points this season. Now he encounters an Indianapolis defense that held him to four points in Week 9.



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