Fantasy

Fantasy Football Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

Eric MackFantasy Football Lead WriterDecember 14, 2013

Fantasy Football Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

1 of 7

    It is fantasy crunch time, so we have to tell the Ravens' Ray Rice it is a time to take a seat.
    It is fantasy crunch time, so we have to tell the Ravens' Ray Rice it is a time to take a seat.Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

    You have made it to fantasy football's semifinals, so clearly you know how to set your lineup by now. You can never get enough help on those fringe decisions, though.

    Generally, you don't want to be too bold with your lineups in crunch time, but we suggest you sit some fantasy football first-rounders this week, namely Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. This is Bleacher Report's weekly Saturday edition of Start 'Em, Sit 'Em in a six-part, position-by-position slideshow.

Quarterbacks: Mike Shanahan Is Turning to Kirk Cousins, but You Shouldn't Here

2 of 7

    Start 'Em

    Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles

    Here is how funny fantasy football can be: Not only is Foles a revelation, but he also might be the single reason you win your semifinal matchup. He is coming off a disappointing week, but he heads to a climate-controlled dome and faces a defense that has been the second-worst in fantasy against quarterbacks and the third-worst pass defense. This is Chip Kelly's first game coaching indoors on a fast track. Look out.

     

    Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    As disappointing as this year has been for the Falcons and Ryan owners, it stands to finish with a bang. The Washington Redskins have been the fifth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and the sixth-worst against the pass. It helps that this game is indoors, too. Having Roddy White productive again is a huge thing for Ryan owners. He is a must-start option in all leagues.

     

    Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

    You don't win unless you take chances. That is Marc Trestman's motto, apparently. The Bears offensive guru has benched the red-hot Josh McCown for Cutler (ankle, groin), giving Cutler fantasy owners a chance at all those points McCown put up last week. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are the best receiving duo in fantasy right now, so roll the dice on Cutler putting up 250 yards and three touchdowns against the Browns in wintry conditions.

    We saw how much snow can make for huge fantasy scores a week ago. When the white stuff falls, the fantasy points accumulate in a flurry (puns entirely intended).

     

    Sit 'Em

    Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

    Don't expect any late-season magic out of Cousins here, no matter how much Mike Shanahan is looking for a "told you so" performance. Cousins just doesn't have the receivers to score enough fantasy points to prove useful in standard leagues, even if the Falcons are a bottom-10 team against quarterbacks.

     

    Eli Manning, New York Giants

    Have these been the most obvious fantasy decisions of the year? Bench all quarterbacks against the Seattle Seahawks defense, and bench this Manning in any matchup. This is a lame-duck team with an error-prone quarterback, playing behind a putrid offensive line and facing the best secondary in football. Yuck!

     

    Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns

    The Chicago Bears don't play defense like they did when Charles Tillman was healthy and Lovie Smith was the coach, but you just cannot trust what you have seen from Campbell and the Browns. Sure, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are must-start fantasy stars, but Campbell is just as likely to go 10-of-25 with 149 yards passing as he is to post a monster week like he did against the New England Patriots a week ago.

    Do not ride this hot hand in such a pivotal week. You have a better option outside of two-quarterback formats.

    Week 15 Quarterbacks Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankQuarterbacksTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Peyton ManningDenvs. SD10
    2Drew BreesNOat StL20
    3Matthew StaffordDetvs. Bal5+2
    4Philip RiversSDat Den6+2
    5Russell WilsonSeaat NYG8+3
    6Cam NewtonCarvs. NYJ4-2
    7Tom BradyNEat Mia11+4
    8Tony RomoDalvs. GB7-1
    9Andrew LuckIndvs. Hou90
    10Nick FolesPhiat Min3-7
    11Matt RyanAtlvs. Was10-1
    12Jay CutlerChiat Cle120
    13Colin KaepernickSFat TB15+2
    14Ben RoethlisbergerPitvs. Cin13-1
    15Andy DaltonCinat Pit19+4
    16Joe FlaccoBalat Det18+2
    17Alex SmithKCat Oak14-3
    18Carson PalmerAriat Ten22+4
    19Ryan TannehillMiavs. NE16-3
    20Kirk CousinsWasat Atl200
    21Jason CampbellClevs. Chi17-4
    22Matt FlynnGBat Dal25+3
    23EJ ManuelBufat Jac26+3
    24Eli ManningNYGvs. Sea30+6
    25Case KeenumHouat Ind24-1
    26Ryan FitzpatrickTenvs. Ari27+1
    27Mike GlennonTBvs. SF32+5
    28Kellen ClemensStLvs. NO35+7
    29Chad HenneJacvs. Buf33+4
    30Matt CasselMinvs. Phi28-2
    31Matt McGloinOakvs. KC29-2
    32Geno SmithNYJat Car37+5
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Running Backs: It's an Odd Week with Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice Listed as 'Sits'

3 of 7

    Start 'Em

    Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

    Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) remains out, so the Packers figure to feature Lacy and the run game heavily, even if Lacy is struggling with an ankle issue. According to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lacy said he felt "a lot better" on Friday than he did in the second half last week, so you should like Lacy for at least 60 yards and a touchdown.

    The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards and have been dead last in fantasy against running backs.

     

    Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons

    He has looked like he's closer to retirement than fantasy lineups for the most of this season, but he has been a solid fantasy contributor for the past three weeks. His best is yet to come. The Redskins are the second-worst team in fantasy against running backs, giving up a league-worst 17 rushing touchdowns. Jackson finds the end zone at least once in this one.

     

    Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland Browns

    With Willis McGahee (concussion) ruled out, the Browns will likely turn to Ogbonnaya as their primary ball-carrier, with Fozzy Whittaker filling in behind him. The Browns don't run the ball well—fifth-worst in football—but the Bears have the worst run defense in football and are the third-worst team in fantasy against running backs. They have allowed a 100-yard rusher for six consecutive weeks, and if not for 95 yards by Alfred Morris in Week 7, it would have been every game since New Orleans in Week 5!

    Ogbonnaya won't reach that total perhaps, but he will be a factor in the passing game and will hit double digits in fantasy points.

     

    Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals

    Say what you want about Mendenhall and Ellington's timeshare, but they have both been good enough to rank among the top 28 running backs in standard leagues this season. They should be at their combined best against a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy running backs this season. Both Cards backs rank among the top 30 options this week.

     

    Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins

    This is another frustrating duo for fantasy owners, but this is a week where both Thomas (ankle) and Miller (concussion) can get enough touches to hit double-digit fantasy points. The New England Patriots are the second-worst rush defense in football, and the Dolphins have to pound the ball at them if they are to pull off this upset. Thomas is the better of the two plays here, as he does the goal-line work, but you can use Miller as a Hail Mary too.

     

    Sit 'Em

    Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart and Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings

    It isn’t the matchup here that should scare you. It is the shaky status of Peterson (foot) and Gerhart (hamstring). You cannot be sure which ones will be active at this point or how long they can prove effective. The guess here is none of this trio proves to be good for any more than a mere five fantasy points. Avoid them all.

     

    Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, New York Jets

    The Jets had a bounce back game last week against the Oakland Raiders, but we should all expect them to go right back in the tank against the Carolina Panthers defense coming off a stinging loss, especially at home. Ivory has been decent in good matchups but bad in tough ones (35 yards against the Baltimore Ravens and 11 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals).

    The Panthers are better than both, with the best run defense in football and No. 3 in fantasy against running backs. Don't trust the Jets.

     

    DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers

    On the other side of the field, don't expect the Panthers to muster much on the ground, either. Sure, Jonathan Stewart (knee) is out of the way, but the Jets have the second-best run defense in football and are No. 2 in fantasy against backs. You didn't get to your fantasy semifinals riding these two guys out, so don't bother with them this week.

     

    Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    We have to admit we were dead wrong about calling Rainey a sit last week. But we have even more merit to label him as such all over again. The San Francisco 49ers are a top-10 team against the run and in a must-win situation. Expect them to load the box to take away Rainey to the tune of 15 carries for 45 yards. If that is enough to get you by in the fantasy semifinals, by all means, use him. It should be.

     

    Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

    This one hurts. You cannot start you first-round pick in your most important week of the season, the one that can get you to the Super Bowl. If you have come this far, you know it is not because of Rice at this point. You can do without him, especially against the sixth-best run defense in football in the Lions. They have given up just 99.3 yards per game, and that is after the Eagles freezer-burned them for almost 300 in the snow last week.

    Week 15 Running Backs Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankRunning BacksTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Jamaal CharlesKCat Oak10
    2LeSean McCoyPhiat Min20
    3Knowshon MorenoDenvs. SD7+4
    4Matt ForteChiat Cle3-1
    5Marshawn LynchSeaat NYG50
    6Eddie LacyGBat Dal60
    7DeMarco MurrayDalvs. GB4-3
    8Shane VereenNEat Mia10+2
    9Frank GoreSFat TB15+6
    10Zac StacyStLvs. NO8-2
    11C.J. SpillerBufat Jac22+11
    12Alfred MorrisWasat Atl9-3
    13Chris JohnsonTenvs. Ari23+10
    14Reggie BushDetvs. Bal16+2
    15Steven JacksonAtlvs. Was14-1
    16Ben TateHouat Ind11-5
    17Ray RiceBalat Det26+9
    18Le'Veon BellPitvs. Cin13-5
    19Andre BrownNYGvs. Sea12-7
    20Giovani BernardCinat Pit19-1
    21Darren SprolesNOat StL38+17
    22Rashard MendenhallAriat Ten30+8
    23Rashad JenningsOakvs. KC20-3
    24Ryan MathewsSDat Den18-6
    25Daniel ThomasMiavs. NE42+17
    26Chris OgbonnayaClevs. Chi31+5
    27Danny WoodheadSDat Den28+1
    28Andre EllingtonAriat Ten35+7
    29Bobby RaineyTBvs. SF17-12
    30Chris IvoryNYJat Car40+10
    31Montee BallDenvs. SD27-4
    32Stevan RidleyNEat Mia41+9
    33Donald BrownIndvs. Hou32-1
    34BenJarvus Green-EllisCinat Pit340
    35Fred JacksonBufat Jac24-11
    36Jordan TodmanJacvs. Buf360
    37Lamar MillerMiavs. NE370
    38Toby GerhartMinvs. Phi21-17
    39Joique BellDetvs. Bal33-6
    40Trent RichardsonIndvs. Hou47+7
    41Pierre ThomasNOat StL25-16
    42LeGarrette BlountNEat Mia50+8
    43DeAngelo WilliamsCarvs. NYJ430
    44Mike TolbertCarvs. NYJ49+5
    45Matt AsiataMinvs. Phi52+7
    46Bryce BrownPhiat Min59+13
    47Marcel ReeceOakvs. KC46-1
    48Bernard PierceBalat Det60+12
    49Kendall HunterSFat TB66+17
    50Robert TurbinSeaat NYG63+13
    51James StarksGBat Dal44-7
    52Knile DavisKCat Oak69+17
    53Shonn GreeneTenvs. Ari530
    54Roy HeluWasat Atl56+2
    55Benny CunninghamStLvs. NO57+2
    56Dennis JohnsonHouat Ind61+5
    57Peyton HillisNYGvs. Sea58+1
    58Brandon BoldenNEat Mia65+7
    59Bilal PowellNYJat Car51-8
    60Jacquizz RodgersAtlvs. Was55-5
    61Mark IngramNOat StL54-7
    62Michael BushChiat Cle620
    63Brian LeonardTBvs. SF72+9
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Wide Receivers: Avoid Your Giants Like the Plague Versus the 'Legion of Boom'

4 of 7

    How tough is the Seahawks secondary? You should even sit Victor Cruz against it in fantasy crunch time.
    How tough is the Seahawks secondary? You should even sit Victor Cruz against it in fantasy crunch time.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Start 'Em

    Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

    It might not have looked like it in the Philly snow last week, but the Detroit Lions are good against the run and suspect against the pass. It should be closer to the season norms this week in the dome. Detroit has been the third-worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, so we should fully expect Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith to hook up for at least one touchdown in this one. Start Smith in all leagues.

     

    Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Green Bay Packers

    Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) is not riding in on a white horse, but the Dallas Cowboys defense has been a huge black eye. The unit is dead last against the pass. Jarrett Boykin might even prove to be a factor. Regardless, you should feel good about starting the Packers' primary two targets, even if Matt Flynn is limited in the passing game. The Cowboys are just that bad defensively.

     

    Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles

    If there has been something as fool-proof as starting players against the Cowboys, it is starting players against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are third-worst against the pass and fifth-worst against fantasy wideouts. DeSean Jackson is a weekly must-start in all leagues, but Cooper is Nick Foles' secondary option who is a nice fringe play in three-receiver (or flex) formats.

     

    Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, New England Patriots

    Tom Brady has lost Rob Gronkowski (knee), so he has to turn to someone. We figure it will be Amendola, who has done his best work when Gronk has been out, including a touchdown late last week after Gronk went down. Edelman has already proven consistent week to week, but we would start both underneath receivers.

    The matchup against the third-best team in fantasy against wide receivers shouldn't scare you. This is Brady in a game to clinch the division and assume the pole position in the AFC.

     

    Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

    He hasn't hit even 70 yards in a game all season, but we're going to go on a limb and say he will be good for 100 yards and a touchdown. The New York Jets are in the bottom 10 against the pass and fantasy wide receivers, so expect the oldest starting receiver in the NFL to come through in crunch time for you with his best week of the season.

     

    Sit 'Em

    Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, New York Giants

    If you thought your Giants receivers have been disappointing, just wait until you see what the Legion of Boom has for them this week. The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a loss and are a victory and a 49ers loss away from clinching the NFC West and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Expect their best performance. Even the steady Cruz is a sit in this awful matchup.

     

    Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

    We wouldn't dare tell you to sit Larry Fitzgerald, but Floyd is a fairly easy one to warn you off of. Not only are the Tennessee Titans the second-best team in fantasy against wide receivers, but Floyd will be playing on a gimpy ankle. He is already coming off a mere two catches for 26 yards last week. The injury, matchup and recent performance all make Floyd an easy sit.

     

    T.Y. Hilton, Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Indianapolis Colts

    There are a myriad of reasons to be skeptical of Andrew Luck's bunch. You cannot trust the rookie Rogers coming off his breakthrough week in a loose game against the Bengals, while Brazill is dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of practice all week. Hilton has been a bum of late, and DHB has always been a bum. Not only can you not be sure where the production is going to be had, but the Houston Texans also have the second-best pass defense and are No. 4 in fantasy against wideouts.

     

    Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Damian Williams and Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

    Not only is Wright (shoulder and ankle) banged up, this rag-tag bunch is difficult to predict week to week. Our prediction here is they will all prove unworthy of a fantasy lineup spot in crunch time against a Cardinals defense that has been No. 5 in fantasy against wide receivers.

     

    Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright, Minnesota Vikings

    Matt Cassel looked like a world-beater late in the fourth quarter of a sloppy game against the Ravens, but you cannot count on these guys, even if they are facing the worst team in fantasy against wide receivers in the Eagles. We say if you play anyone, it is Jennings, but even he is outside the top 30 options on our board below.

    Week 15 Wide Receivers Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankWide ReceiversTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Josh GordonClevs. Chi2+1
    2Calvin JohnsonDetvs. Bal1-1
    3Dez BryantDalvs. GB30
    4A.J. GreenCinat Pit6+2
    5Demaryius ThomasDenvs. SD7+2
    6Antonio BrownPitvs. Cin10+4
    7Brandon MarshallChiat Cle4-3
    8Larry FitzgeraldAriat Ten17+9
    9Alshon JefferyChiat Cle5-4
    10DeSean JacksonPhiat Min9-1
    11Eric DeckerDenvs. SD110
    12Andre JohnsonHouat Ind8-4
    13Marques ColstonNOat StL20+7
    14Roddy WhiteAtlvs. Was140
    15Torrey SmithBalat Det16+1
    16Jordy NelsonGBat Dal13-3
    17Vincent JacksonTBvs. SF18+1
    18Keenan AllenSDat Den12-6
    19Dwayne BoweKCat Oak24+5
    20Julian EdelmanNEat Mia21+1
    21Anquan BoldinSFat TB30+9
    22Mike WallaceMiavs. NE25+3
    23Steve JohnsonBufat Jac31+8
    24Pierre GarconWasat Atl15-9
    25Steve SmithCarvs. NYJ26+1
    26Danny AmendolaNEat Mia40+14
    27Victor CruzNYGvs. Sea270
    28Kendall WrightTenvs. Ari37+9
    29Riley CooperPhiat Min19-10
    30Brian HartlineMiavs. NE29-1
    31Harry DouglasAtlvs. Was23-8
    32James JonesGBat Dal34+2
    33Greg JenningsMinvs. Phi39+6
    34Hakeem NicksNYGvs. Sea47+13
    35Michael FloydAriat Ten33-2
    36Michael CrabtreeSFat TB360
    37T.Y. HiltonIndvs. Hou28-9
    38Ace SandersJacvs. Buf44+6
    39Cecil ShortsJacvs. Buf22-17
    40DeAndre HopkinsHouat Ind45+5
    41Miles AustinDalvs. GB69+28
    42Rueben RandleNYGvs. Sea56+14
    43Kenbrell ThompkinsNEat Mia58+15
    44Mohamed SanuCinat Pit79+35
    45Dexter McClusterKCat Oak66+21
    46Emmanuel SandersPitvs. Cin41-5
    47Golden TateSeaat NYG38-9
    48Rod StreaterOakvs. KC32-16
    49Cordarrelle PattersonMinvs. Phi35-14
    50Marlon BrownBalat Det51+1
    51Mike BrownJacvs. Buf73+22
    52Brandon LaFellCarvs. NYJ43-9
    53Doug BaldwinSeaat NYG46-7
    54Justin HunterTenvs. Ari540
    55Tavon AustinStLvs. NO59+4
    56Lavon BrazillIndvs. Hou71+15
    57Andre HolmesOakvs. KC50-7
    58Santonio HolmesNYJat Car75+17
    59Jarrett BoykinGBat Dal42-17
    60Marvin JonesCinat Pit65+5
    61Donnie AveryKCat Oak84+23
    62Nate BurlesonDetvs. Bal49-13
    63Robert WoodsBufat Jac70+7
    64Terrance WilliamsDalvs. GB62-2
    65Jerricho CotcheryPitvs. Cin55-10
    66Chris GivensStLvs. NO92+26
    67Ted GinnCarvs. NYJ61-6
    68Da'Rick RogersIndvs. Hou48-20
    69Tiquan UnderwoodTBvs. SF63-6
    70Jerome SimpsonMinvs. Phi60-10
    71Jeremy KerleyNYJat Car57-14
    72Lance MooreNOat StL64-8
    73Aaron DobsonNEat Mia82+9
    74Santana MossWasat Atl99+25
    75Kenny StillsNOat StL83+8
    76Vincent BrownSDat Den81+5
    77Andre RobertsAriat Ten78+1
    78Greg LittleClevs. Chi89+11
    79Nate WashingtonTenvs. Ari77-2
    80Kris DurhamDetvs. Bal72-8
    81Darrius Heyward-BeyIndvs. Hou98+17
    82Jason AvantPhiat Min86+4
    83Rishard MatthewsMiavs. NE74-9
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Tight Ends: Titans' Delanie Walker Returns at Just the Right Time

5 of 7

    Delanie Walker is returning from a concussion to face the worst team in fantasy against tight ends this week.
    Delanie Walker is returning from a concussion to face the worst team in fantasy against tight ends this week.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Start 'Em

    Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

    Walker is returning from his concussion just in time to face the absolute worst team in fantasy against tight ends, the Arizona Cardinals. Walker has been a pleasant surprise for owners, especially when Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the quarterback. The Cardinals do a great job taking away the outside receivers, so expect Walker to be a huge part of the play-action game, especially in the red zone.

     

    Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins

    Unless you are a fantasy analyst or a Dolphins fan, you might not know Clay has been the fifth-most productive tight end this season in standard leagues. He is fifth in receptions (60) and yards (678) and sixth in touchdowns (six). He has also proven fairly consistent week to week. Sounds like a must-start fantasy tight end in crunch time to us.

     

    Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

    Fantasy owners might be lamenting losing the production of Josh McCown, but not Bennett. He has been far more productive with Jay Cutler under center. With Joe Haden taking away one big receiver on the outside and a safety over the top doubling on the other, Bennett should find some space running down the seam. This stands to be a surprisingly good week for Bennett among fantasy starters.

     

    Sit 'Em

    Garrett Graham, Houston Texans

    He has finally proven productive with Case Keenum under center, but he is dealing with a hamstring issue that has left him questionable. What's worse, the Indianapolis Colts have been solid defending the tight end in the red zone. Only the Eagles and Lions have allowed fewer touchdowns to the position this season.

     

    Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Despite a touchdown a week ago, he just hasn't been a big part of the Bucs' run-first offense after a hot stretch through the middle of the season. The San Francisco 49ers are the third-best team in fantasy against tight ends, so you should have a far more intriguing option to use in crunch time here than this undrafted rookie.

     

    Zach Ertz/Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles; Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

    Regardless of the matchup, you shouldn't be anxious to play tight end roulette in fantasy crunch time. You might have gotten away with it to date with these timeshare guys, but you would be better off going with someone else that gets all of his team's targets in such a crucial week.

    Week 15 Tight Ends Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankTight EndsTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Jimmy GrahamNOat StL10
    2Julius ThomasDenvs. SD20
    3Jason WittenDalvs. GB6+3
    4Jordan CameronClevs. Chi40
    5Vernon DavisSFat TB3-2
    6Tony GonzalezAtlvs. Was7+1
    7Greg OlsenCarvs. NYJ5-2
    8Antonio GatesSDat Den9+1
    9Dennis PittaBalat Det11+2
    10Heath MillerPitvs. Cin17+7
    11Martellus BennettChiat Cle14+3
    12Delanie WalkerTenvs. Ari10-2
    13Charles ClayMiavs. NE8-5
    14Coby FleenerIndvs. Hou12-2
    15Jared CookStLvs. NO19+4
    16Garrett GrahamHouat Ind13-3
    17Zach MillerSeaat NYG29+12
    18Zach ErtzPhiat Min20+2
    19Tim WrightTBvs. SF26+7
    20Brandon MyersNYGvs. Sea22+2
    21Brent CelekPhiat Min23+2
    22Jermaine GreshamCinat Pit33+11
    23Ladarius GreenSDat Den21-2
    24Brandon PettigrewDetvs. Bal36+12
    25Tyler EifertCinat Pit27+2
    26Scott ChandlerBufat Jac18-8
    27Logan PaulsenWasat Atl32+5
    28Marcedes LewisJacvs. Buf31+3
    29Jeff CumberlandNYJat Car50+21
    30Michael HoomanawanuiNEat Mia48+18
    31Virgil GreenDenvs. SD35+4
    32Jacob TammeDenvs. SD15-17
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Defense/Special Teams: Place Your Trust in the Most-Owned Units in Crunch Time

6 of 7

    We say go with Terrell Suggs' Ravens even in an unfavorable matchup at the Detroit Lions this week.
    We say go with Terrell Suggs' Ravens even in an unfavorable matchup at the Detroit Lions this week.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    There are some very obvious must-start fantasy defense/special teams units this week, including the Seattle Seahawks (at New York Giants), Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Jets), San Francisco 49ers (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Kansas City Chiefs (at Oakland Raiders), Arizona Cardinals (at Tennessee Titans) and Cincinnati Bengals (at Pittsburgh Steelers). Those are the sixth-most owned units in CBS Sports leagues and the top six starts in our rankings below.

    We pick through the leftovers for you streaming owners below.

     

    Start 'Em

    Baltimore Ravens

    The Detroit Lions playing at home is not a favorable matchup, but you are better off with a defensive-minded team like the Ravens than some of the other sketchier units in such a crucial week.

     

    New England Patriots

    Ditto here. The Pats are awful against the run, but the Dolphins have offensive line issues and might not be able to take advantage of their opponent's biggest weakness. A Bill Belichick defense in an important December game is a safer fantasy option than most.

     

    New Orleans Saints

    Here is the streaming play of the week. The Rams are in the bottom half of fantasy against defense/special teams, and the Saints are one of the few units out there that might be available to you. Trust in Rob Ryan to come through for you.

     

    Sit 'Em

    New York Jets

    We cannot say the same for Rex Ryan, mostly because his quarterback figures to be a sloppy mess against that Panthers defense. Carolina is the third-toughest team in fantasy against defense/special teams, so don't dare use the Jets here.

     

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    They are talented and coming off a huge performance, but the San Francisco 49ers—fourth-best against defense/special teams—are a lot more conservative than the error-prone Buffalo Bills are. Go with one of the starts above over the Bucs.

     

    New York Giants

    You had to have enough of this team last week. Now the Seattle Seahawks fly into town coming off a loss. This game has the makings of a 40-0 blowout. Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) remains out, and the Giants should remain on the free-agent pile.

    Week 15 Defenses and Special Teams Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankDefenses and Special TeamsTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Seattle SeahawksSeaat NYG2+1
    2Carolina PanthersCarvs. NYJ1-1
    3San Francisco 49ersSFat TB4+1
    4Kansas City ChiefsKCat Oak3-1
    5Arizona CardinalsAriat Ten50
    6Cincinnati BengalsCinat Pit60
    7Baltimore RavensBalat Det17+10
    8New England PatriotsNEat Mia9+1
    9New Orleans SaintsNOat StL8-1
    10Denver BroncosDenvs. SD21+11
    11Philadelphia EaglesPhiat Min10-1
    12Atlanta FalconsAtlvs. Was23+11
    13Indianapolis ColtsIndvs. Hou11-2
    14Chicago BearsChiat Cle12-2
    15Buffalo BillsBufat Jac7-8
    16Pittsburgh SteelersPitvs. Cin19+3
    17Tampa Bay BuccaneersTBvs. SF20+3
    18New York JetsNYJat Car28+10
    19Dallas CowboysDalvs. GB18-1
    20Green Bay PackersGBat Dal29+9
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

Kickers: We Put Our Faith in Justin Tucker, Mason Crosby and Adam Vinatieri Here

7 of 7

    Justin Tucker is capable of carrying you to your fantasy Super Bowl with a big performance this week.
    Justin Tucker is capable of carrying you to your fantasy Super Bowl with a big performance this week.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Start 'Em

    Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

    Tucker might have let you down in the snow last week, but you should expect him to rebound nicely in the Detroit Lions' dome this week. The Lions just happen to have allowed the second-most field goals in football, despite not allowing a single kick in Philly last week.

     

    Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers

    You might not like Matt Flynn under center if you are a Crosby owner, but you have to like the matchup against the completely inept Dallas Cowboys defense. Crosby in a must-start option.

     

    Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts

    We didn't like Vinatieri against the Cincinnati Bengals in the wintry outdoors, but you can love him against the lame-duck Houston Texans back in the friendly confines of the Indy dome.

     

    Sit 'Em

    Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

    We have had him as a sit for most of the season. A matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs—No. 2 in fantasy against kickers—keeps him there.

     

    Josh Brown, New York Giants

    You have to be beyond sick of his inconsistency by now. If not, you have to at least be smart enough to not mess with the Seattle Seahawks defense, No. 4 against fantasy kickers.

     

    Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams

    You probably shouldn't have ridden this sophomore disappointment out this long. You could anticipate a shootout at home against the New Orleans Saints, but they have quietly been sixth-best against fantasy kickers this season. 

    Week 15 Kicker Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankKickersTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Stephen GostkowskiNEat Mia10
    2Matt PraterDenvs. SD20
    3Steven HauschkaSeaat NYG30
    4Justin TuckerBalat Det5+1
    5Mason CrosbyGBat Dal13+8
    6Phil DawsonSFat TB12+6
    7Garrett HartleyNOat StL4-3
    8Adam VinatieriIndvs. Hou6-2
    9Dan BaileyDalvs. GB8-1
    10Ryan SuccopKCat Oak100
    11Alex HeneryPhiat Min7-4
    12Nick NovakSDat Den18+6
    13Matt BryantAtlvs. Was11-2
    14Blair WalshMinvs. Phi19+5
    15Shaun SuishamPitvs. Cin27+12
    16David AkersDetvs. Bal14-2
    17Robbie GouldChiat Cle15-2
    18Greg ZuerleinStLvs. NO24+6
    19Dan CarpenterBufat Jac9-10
    20Sebastian JanikowskiOakvs. KC200
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros

     

     

    Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices