Week 15 Fantasy Football Projections: Stars Sure to Disappoint in Playoff Games

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

Dec 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) rushes on fourth down in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy stars have bad timing for even the best owners stuck in a critical playoff contest.

Look at Week 14. Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III certainly falls into the "star" category at his position. The Baylor product had scored 20 or more points in three of his last four. So how did RGIII reward owners in a playoff game? 10 points. 10!

Such are the pitfalls of fake football. Week 15 is no different in this regard. Despite reliability, certain stars are in for major letdown games right when fantasy owners need them most.

Do not be a goon and take to Twitter in a fit of rage. Instead, sit these players on the bench.


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


Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (at DEN)

Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass during the first half of the Chargers win over the New York Giants at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Philip Rivers has done right by owners who banked on his turnaround under new head coach Mike McCoy this year.

Rivers enters Week 15 as the sixth-highest scorer at quarterback. At a position mired by inconsistency, Rivers has scored double-digit points in every game this season and has 15 or more in eight games. He has done so against impressive pass defenses such as Houston and Kansas City.

Now, for the bad news. One game in which Rivers was less than impressive came in Week 10 against Denver. The North Carolina State product scored just 12 points at home.

We know where this is going. Rivers faces the Denver defense once again this week, but this time he will be playing on the road and in cold weather. The Broncos allow an average of 17.5 points to the position, but bet the under on that one.

Rivers is simply too risky with everything on the line in a playoff matchup.


Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans (vs. ARI)

Despite a horrific start to the season in which he failed to score 10 points in his first four games and five of his first six, the man formerly known as CJ2K has scored 13 or more points in five games to rank as the seventh-highest scorer this season at running back.

Chris Johnson should still be avoided in Week 15, though.

Sure, Johnson is capable of a mega-performance that can propel an owner to victory seemingly on its own, but such performances have been few and far between in 2013.

Don't expect one against Arizona. The Cardinals defense is a running back wasteland where names such as Frank Gore (10 points), Maurice Jones-Drew (nine), Doug Martin (five) and LeSean McCoy (10) have all failed to produce.

In total, Arizona has fantasy football's best defense against the position with an average of 9.8 points allowed per game. If Johnson is still CJ2K, the numeral will resemble his per-carry average Sunday.


Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (at TEN)

Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the sidelines against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Let's go ahead and flip to the other side of this matchup, where another fantasy star is about to be stuffed when his owners needs him most.

Larry Fitzgerald cost owners a pretty penny this year in drafts, and he has, for the most part, lived up to expectations as a top-15 scorer. The veteran has survived early shoddy quarterback play and has scored more than 10 points in eight games, including his last four.

Dec 8, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs the ball in the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That streak ends Sunday. Fitzgerald has seen the door slammed shut on his fantasy production whenever Arizona encounters a strong pass defense. New Orleans (six points), Carolina (four), Seattle (one) and Houston (two) have all held the Pittsburgh product in check.

Now, Fitzgerald faces another top pass defense in Tennessee, a team that allows an average of 14.1 points to wideouts.

It is never easy to put a name like Fitzgerald on the pine, but he will be detrimental to playoff success this weekend.


Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens (at DET)

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 08: Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammate quarterback Joe Flacco #5 after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Bal
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

This one will be brief for two reasons. First, Dennis Pitta has appeared in one game this year after recovering from an injury. Second, tight end has been a horrible spot all year, and it is essentially a tossup outside of Jimmy Graham.

But the following needs stressed: Pitta's top-10 performance last week in his first week back, in which he scored 10 fantasy points, is not something to rely on in the playoffs.

Pitta now travels to Ford Field to take on Detroit. That might sound like an easy matchup, but the Lions actually have fantasy football's third-best defense against the position. The unit allows an average of just 5.3 points per contest to tight ends.

Add the fact defenses will quickly understand that Joe Flacco has nowhere else to go with the ball, and it is a recipe for fantasy disaster—especially for those overthinking things to get postseason win.