The fantasy playoffs are here, and owners cannot afford to make a bad lineup decision in Week 15.
Championships will be decided in favor of the side that best evaluated the matchups and made the wisest starts. While fantasy often comes down to luck, you can make your own by putting yourself in the best possible position to score the most points.
Let’s take a look at a handful of players you must start and some you must sit in order to prevail and advance to the title game.
Start ‘Em: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. Washington Redskins)
Ryan has been a mediocre backup for much of the 2013 season, but it is time to dust him off this week.
The Falcons have a dream matchup against a Redskins team suffering from internal turmoil that has seemingly given up ahead of their final few contests. Ryan is also steadily improving and has been averaging over 250 yards and a touchdown for the past month.
Sit ‘Em: Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at Tennessee Titans)
Palmer is going to suffer a minor regression this coming week against the Titans, so remove him from your lineup and replace him with a better option.
The Cardinals signal-caller is going up against a secondary that—when playing at home—allows the fourth-fewest standard fantasy points to quarterbacks. Factor in wideout Michael Floyd’s ailing ankle and you are looking at the recipe for a letdown.
Start ‘Em: Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (at Miami Dolphins)
Vereen has been on fire over the past few weeks, especially in point-per-reception leagues. He’s an elite talent at the position and may become the premier one now that Rob Gronkowski is out of the picture with a knee injury.
The ‘Phins concede 118.8 yards per game to opposing rushers, so Vereen has the potential to do as much damage on the ground as he usually does after catching the ball.
Sit ‘Em: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (at Jacksonville Jaguars)
Spiller’s matchup with the Jags will be tough. This surging squad is only allowing opposing rushers to put up an average 85.7 yards per game on the ground during its current three-game winning streak.
With Fred Jackson taking touches and Jacksonville aggressively bringing down backs before they get big gains, it may be wise to look elsewhere for a quality option at the RB spot in Week 15.
Start ‘Em: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
Patterson has been killing it over the past few weeks. The rookie receiver went off for 141 yards and a score on five receptions against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 and housed a rushing touchdown in Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.
He’s a versatile weapon and also returns kicks—giving him an added edge in leagues that reward yards there—so make sure you get him in your lineup this Sunday against a vulnerable Eagles defense giving up 285.5 yards per game through the air.
Sit ‘Em: Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (vs. Seattle Seahawks)
Nicks is just plain terrible in 2013.
The Giants wideout hasn’t scored a touchdown yet and isn’t likely to get one against Seattle, a team boasting one of the best secondary units in the NFL. Avoid this matchup entirely and find a replacement for the playoffs.
Start ‘Em: Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (vs. New England Patriots)
Clay has emerged as Miami’s best red-zone option and is always a threat to haul in a touchdown reception. He scored twice last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers and should be able to continue his momentum against New England.
With Mike Wallace disappointing in South Beach, expect signal-caller Ryan Tannehill to continue leaning on Clay to get points on the board.
Sit ‘Em: Timothy Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
Wright hasn’t been a good start in weeks and remains a benchable talent this coming Sunday.
The 49ers have completely shut down the tight end position when playing away from Candlestick Park, giving up an average of just 4.7 fantasy points when travelling. Don’t expect much from Wright in what should be a lopsided matchup.