For a select few fantasy owners in each league, it's playoff time. Decisions to start or sit certain players could mean the difference between a championship and an early postseason exit.
There may be a player on your bench who is gearing up for a breakout game that you can't miss out on or a perennial starter who is set up for failure. Whatever the case may be, the stakes are infinitely high, so don't be lazy and start the guys you've been going with all season—look into matchups and recent trends before going chalk.
Here's a look at the most important start and sit decisions heading into Week 15.
Start: Zac Stacy, RB, Rams
Stud Rams running back Zac Stacy has fallen back down to Earth a bit after exploding in the middle of the season, but that had much more to do with facing the Cardinals and 49ers than his own play.
He'll return as a formidable fantasy starting option this week against the Saints, who have allowed their last two opponents to surpass 120 yards on the ground—one of which was a lopsided win.
Even though the Saints may cruise to victory on the road, the Rams won't ditch Stacy after seeing the success that New Orleans' recent opponents have had on the ground as of late. The Saints give up 114.3 yards per game on the ground.
Sit: Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
Very few receivers in all of the league have as much raw talent as Cruz, but it hasn't turned into fantasy success, especially in recent weeks. It will only get tougher in Week 15.
Cruz has only notched one 100-yard game since Week 4 at Kansas City and hasn't caught a touchdown since that day. Despite that, 80 percent of ESPN leagues have him in a starting spot.
Look at Cruz's recent shortcomings and the beast of a defense they're facing, and realize that an average bench player would be better suited in your starting spot.
Start: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins
Fairly quietly, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is becoming relevant in fantasy, and it's boiling to the surface this week with a suddenly favorable matchup against the Patriots.
New England boasted a turnover-hungry secondary early in the season but have been allowing more and more from opposing QBs this season. Against the hapless Browns last week, the Pats gave up almost 400 passing yards and three touchdowns to Jason Campbell. Jason Campbell.
Tannehill has been noticeably efficient in recent weeks. He posted 200 yards through the air and three scores last week against a decent Pittsburgh defense while pouring in 56 rushing yards. In the two games prior, he surpassed 300 passing yards.
If you don't have a top-flight passer this week and Tannehill is on your bench, give him a hard look.
Sit: Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
It hasn't been a season to remember for Chris Johnson, which is starting to become commonplace for the embattled Titans running back. It won't get any easier in Week 15.
The Titans travel to Arizona over the weekend to face one of the most daunting defensive lines in the NFL. The Cardinals give up just 84.5 yards per game on the ground—third in the league. Just as well, Shonn Greene has been getting more looks in the red zone, so CJ is much less of a touchdown factor than he was early in the season.
If the Titans have any shot at knocking off the red-hot Cards, it will take a major game from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Not Chris Johnson.
Start: Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
Somebody has to catch passes from Tom Brady, and it's not going to keep being running back Shane Vereen, who was thrown to 17 times last week against Cleveland. The obvious choice is Julian Edelman.
The talented slot receiver has amassed nearly 300 receiving yards over the last three weeks, scoring three touchdowns in that span. Without Rob Gronkowski, expect Brady to go to one of the few trusted receivers he has left.
Plus, the Pats face the Dolphins, who have been average against the pass but gave up 349 yards and three touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger last weekend.
Sit: Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins
Few fantasy players have proven more frustrating for owners than Mike Wallace this season, and that came to the surface in a huge way in Week 15.
After two straight weeks of impressive performances—127 yards vs. Carolina and 82 yards vs. the Jets with TDs in both games—Wallace laid an egg against the Steelers last week. He caught just two passes for 19 yards.
It may be confusing that Tannehill is a good play and Wallace isn't, but the young QB has proven to have a consistent year with guys like Brian Hartline and Charles Clay even when Wallace isn't on.
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