Fantasy Football: Start'em, Sit'em for Week 15
Every week, we list several players that we believe should start on most fantasy rosters. We do the same with folks that should take a seat on most fantasy rosters.
If you want our thoughts on players not on this list, feel free to send your start/sit questions via Twitter @EDSFootball, check out our Week 15 fantasy rankings at TheTipDrill.com or post your question in our Fantasy Football Forum.
Players to Start for Week 15:
QB - Matt Ryan, Falcons (at SEA): While Ryan may be a better "real-life" quarterback than a fantasy quarterback, he has posted solid numbers this season. In his past eight games, Ryan has thrown 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions. This week, Ryan and the Falcons head to the hostile environment of Quest Field in Seattle. But the good news for Ryan owners is that the Seahawks have allowed 266.0 passing yards per game and 23 passing touchdowns, which rank them 30th and 23rd in the NFL, respectively.
RB - Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (vs ARI): For the first time this season, "The Daily Show" rushed for 100-plus yards. But he's had three solid performances after missing two games due to a concussion. During the three-game span, Stewart has rushed for 90-plus yards each week and a total of 323 yards on 51 carries—that is a yards-per-carry average of 6.3. This week, the Panthers face the Cardinals, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Tim Hightower, Cardinals (at CAR): Hightower has had double-digit carries and a yard-per-carry average of five-plus yards in three of his past four games. Beanie Wells, on the hand, has had only 22 total carries in his past four games and 24 rushing yards or less in three straight games. Last week against Denver, Hightower rushed for a season-high 148 yards and two touchdowns. This week, the Cardinals have another favorable matchup as the Panthers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
RB - Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (at OAK): In their first matchup this season, Moreno, the first of the team's two first-round draft picks in 2009, did not run the ball effectively—less than four yards per carry. However, he caught two touchdown passes. Over the last four games, however, Moreno has produced strong numbers: 67 carries for 356 yards and three touchdowns plus 19 receptions for 170 yards. On average, he has 131.5 yards from scrimmage per game in that stretch.
RB - Brandon Jacobs, Giants (vs PHI): The Giants one-two rushing attack is firing on all cylinders. Both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have 200-plus rushing yards and three touchdowns each in the past two games. Jacobs has only 22 of the combined 58 carries the duo has over the past two weeks, but Jacobs had three more carries than Bradshaw in Week 14.
WR - Mike Williams, Bucs (vs DET): Over the past four weeks, Williams has not put up big numbers. During that stretch, the rookie receiver has only 12 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns and he has three or less receptions in three of those four games. Fellow rookie Arrelious Benn, who is having a quiet season, exploded for his best game of the season (122 yards) last week, but Williams still led the team in targets (five). Although Williams hasn't been tearing it up lately, I expect him to bounce back and remain the team's clear go-to receiver.
WR - Kenny Britt, Titans (vs HOU): In his first game back from injury, Britt caught four passes for 39 yards against the Colts. Although it wasn't close to the 225-yard, three-touchdown performance he had before the injury, Britt is the team's best option at receiver. This week, the Titans face the Texans, who have allowed a league-high 279.9 passing yards per game and 29 passing touchdowns.
WR - Deion Branch, Patriots (vs GB): It is amazing how Randy Moss has become fantasy irrelevant while Branch has become not only relevant but a fantasy force. In his past four games, Branch has 21 receptions for 398 yards and four touchdowns. He has scored in three straight games.
WR - Pierre Garcon, Colts (vs JAX): In his past two games, Garcon has scored three touchdowns. In his past four games, Garcon has 50-plus receiving yards in every game. Last week, someone asked me on Twitter whether to start Garcon or Derrick Mason. In hindsight, the answer should have been "yes" as both receivers had big two-touchdown weeks in Week 14.
TE - Owen Daniels, Texans (at TEN): In his first game back from injury, Daniels had five receptions for 91 yards. No other tight end had more receiving yards in Week 14. On the season, the Titans have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Players to Sit for Week 15:
QB - Kyle Orton, Broncos (at OAK): Two weeks ago, Orton was leading the NFL in passing yards. Fast forward two weeks and not only has Orton struggled but his grip on the starting job is tenuous. In his past two games, Orton has completed only 28-of-69 passes (41 percent) for 283 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (vs NYJ): In his past three games, Roethlisberger has thrown for one touchdown—not in each game but combined. With the exception of the game against the Patriots in Week 13, the Jets have allowed only one passing touchdown in each of their four games in the past five weeks. In those four games (excluding the Patriots), the Jets have allowed only 162.3 passing yards per game.
RB - LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets (at PIT): As a general rule, starting a running back facing the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers run defense is risky. For seven straight games Tomlinson has finished with less than 60 rushing yards. And over the past three games, LT2 is averaging under 60 yards from scrimmage (145 rushing and 33 receiving yards in three games) with no touchdowns.
RB - Pierre Thomas, Saints (at BAL): After an 11-week absence, Thomas returned to action in Week 14 and led the team in rushing attempts (12). The status of Chris Ivory, who left the game with a hamstring injury, is unknown, but if Ivory is able to go, he would likely be in line for the largest share of work out of the trio that also includes Reggie Bush. In either case, it's not easy to run on the Ravens in Baltimore.
RB - Cedric Benson, Bengals (vs CLE): In his past three games, Benson has carried the ball a combined 45 times for only 109 yards for an average of 2.4 yards per carry. While Benson did score twice in one of three games, the Browns, this week's opponent, have allowed only four rushing touchdowns, which ties them with Pittsburgh for the fewest allowed this season.
RB - Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (vs ATL): Chances are that you aren't fooled by the three-touchdown game Lynch had two weeks ago if your team is still alive in semifinals week. With the exception of that three-touchdown, 83-yard performance, Lynch has been held to less than 50 rushing yards in six of seven games. The Falcons have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season despite two sub-par performances in their past two games.
WR - Anquan Boldin, Ravens (vs NO): With the exception of the Steelers game, Boldin has 50 or less receiving yards in five of his past six games. This week, the Ravens face the Saints, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. The Saints have allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (eight) this season. If you start only two receivers, Boldin is outside of my top 20 this week and would be on my bench.
WR - Brandon Lloyd, Broncos (at OAK): Despite being ranking third in the NFL in receiving yards (1,185), Lloyd has had only five receptions for 63 yards in his past two games combined. It's likely that elite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will shadow Lloyd and Kyle Orton's recent play means Lloyd will be sitting on my bench.
WR - Michael Crabtree, 49ers (at SD): One reception. One yard. That was what Crabtree did in Week 14. Over his past four games, Crabtree has a total of seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Against the Chargers, who lead the NFL in passing defense (173.4 yards per game), I have little confidence in the "diva receiver."
WR - Steve Johnson, Bills (at MIA): Johnson, who was one of the hottest receivers in the league, has had three weeks of mediocrity (minus). Against the Steelers, Johnson dropped a pass that would have won the game. In those past three games, Johnson finished with no touchdowns and 68, 36 and 42 receiving yards, respectively. The Dolphins have one of the league's top young corners in Vontae Davis, who will be matched up on Johnson.
TE - Dustin Keller, Jets (at PIT): For nine consecutive games, Keller has recorded single-digit fantasy games and has not scored a touchdown. During that span, Keller has only two games with more than 50 receiving yards. Based on standard scoring, Keller has scored 28 fantasy points in his past nine games for an average of 3.1 fantasy points per game.
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