Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: Latest Advice Before Thursday Night Football

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2015

New York Jets running back Chris Ivory has a top Week 15 matchup.
New York Jets running back Chris Ivory has a top Week 15 matchup.Brad Penner/Associated Press

The Week 15 edition of Thursday Night Football doesn't do fantasy football owners many favors.   

Sure, running backs Doug Martin and Todd Gurley should look good when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the St. Louis Rams, but owners should really have their eyes on the weekend.

There plenty of explosive affairs reside, including Carolina-New York, Seattle-Cleveland, Arizona-Philadelphia and more.

Below, let's help prep owners for the entire week by looking at value comparisons for each position along with common start-sit scenarios ahead of Thursday Night Football.


Tom Brady (vs. TEN) vs. Blake Bortles (vs. ATL)Tom Brady
Cam Newton (at NYG) vs. Drew Brees (vs. DET)Cam Newton
Carson Palmer (at PHI) vs. Russell Wilson (vs. CLE)Carson Palmer
Aaron Rodgers (at OAK) vs. Eli Manning (vs. CAR)Aaron Rodgers
Jameis Winston (at STL) vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick (at DAL)Ryan Fitzpatrick
Author's opinion.

Start: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at BAL)

Alex Smith continues to quietly post solid numbers.
Alex Smith continues to quietly post solid numbers.Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

Owners might not be keen on the idea of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, but he's the type of start who wins playoff matchups.

Believe it or not, Smith has double digits in every game except one this year and since a Week 9 bye has recorded no fewer than 13 points in a game, the high sitting at 24.

Smith clearly has a solid floor each time he takes the field with a ceiling that fluctuates based on matchup. Good news—he next gets to pick apart the Baltimore Ravens, the team allowing the second most points to quarterbacks on average and just allowed five touchdowns last week.

Sit: Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. CAR)

Eli Manning of the New York Giants has a higher ownership percentage than Smith via name recognition, but he's been held to single digits three times this year.

Owners are probably high on Manning right now after he slung four touchdowns and totaled 27 points last week against the Miami Dolphins.

This week, though, Manning has to find a way to deal with the Carolina Panthers. In other words, he has to attempt to move the ball on Josh Norman, one of the league's best corners, and a defense that allows the second-fewest points to quarterbacks.

Carolina has held six sets of opposing quarterbacks to single digits. Owners cannot afford to gamble on Manning not joining them.


Devonta Freeman (at JAC) vs. Chris Ivory (at DAL)Devonta Freeman
Adrian Peterson (vs. CHI) vs. Lamar Miller (at SD)Adrian Peterson
Doug Martin (at STL) vs. DeAngelo Williams (vs. DEN)Doug Martin
LeSean McCoy (at WAS) vs. Matt Forte (at MIN)Matt Forte
Todd Gurley (vs. TB) vs. DeMarco Murray (vs. ARI)Todd Gurley
Author's opinion.

Start: Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at DAL)

Ivory will continue to roll against a bad defense.
Ivory will continue to roll against a bad defense.Peter Morgan/Associated Press

Despite random single-digit weeks, New York Jets running back Chris Ivory remains fantasy's sixth-highest scorer at the position. 

Ivory's a workhorse who excels in the right situation, something he's had two of his past three outings when the Jets have given him 20 or more carries, and he's capitalized with 10 or more points each time.

The Jets figure to keep feeding Ivory this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys on the road against a defense allowing the sixth most points to backs.

Last week, Green Bay backs torched Dallas for 43 points. Ivory won't hit anywhere near that on his own, but it's a clear sign he can post a big day with high usage numbers.

Sit: Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (at BAL)

It's time to give up the Charcandrick West hype.

Starting in Week 7, West exploded with 17 or more points in three consecutive games before dealing with injury issues and losing some time to Spencer Ware. 

While it sounds like Ware's banged up, it doesn't seem like enough to expect West to suddenly break out of his slump, which stands at four games in a row with five or fewer points.

This is especially the case against the Ravens, the team allowing the fourth-fewest points to backs this season. While his quarterback goes off against a weak secondary, West figures to find himself regulated to pass-blocking duty for most of the day, increased usage or not.


Antonio Brown (vs. DEN) vs. Jarvis Landry (at SD)Antonio Brown
DeAndre Hopkins (at IND) vs. Larry Fitzgerald (at PHI)DeAndre Hopkins
Odell Beckham Jr. (vs. CAR) vs. Calvin Johnson (at NO)Odell Beckham Jr.
Julio Jones (at JAC) vs. Allen Robinson (vs. ATL)Allen Robinson
Brandon Marshall (at DAL) vs. A.J. Green (at SF)Brandon Marshall
Author's opinion.

Start: Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (at WAS)

Sammy Watkins' roll won't stop against Washington.
Sammy Watkins' roll won't stop against Washington.Michael Perez/Associated Press

Sammy Watkins might seem like a no-brainer of a starter each week, but he's been hurt most of this season and does have three single-digit outings this year.

That said, it does seem like the worst is behind the Buffalo Bills' top wideout. He now has three outings of 14 or more points in a row and in that span has four touchdowns.

Expect the string of dominance to continue against Washington. The Washington defense allows the 10th most points to the position and has allowed seven opposing sets of wideouts to score two touchdowns.

Based on his recent play and how much Washington struggles, Watkins might be good for that number on his own.

Sit: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (vs. GB)

Oakland Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree has come up absolutely huge for owners this year, posting 10 or more points five games as one of the league's premier target hogs. 

The problem, though, is how prone Crabtree is to disappearing when the matchup gets tough—like it did last week against the Denver Broncos. He posted just a single point, giving him just six total over two games against the Broncos this year.

Expect more of the same against the Green Bay Packers. It might be hard to believe, but Green Bay allows just the ninth-fewest points to wideouts this year and last week held Dez Bryant and the Cowboys to just five total points.


Rob Gronkowski (vs. TEN) vs. Tyler Eifert* (at SF)Rob Gronkowski
Greg Olsen* (at NYG) vs. Gary Barnidge (at SEA)Greg Olsen
Delanie Walker (at NE) vs. Jordan Reed (vs. BUF)Delanie Walker
Travis Kelce (at BAL) vs. Richard Rodgers (at OAK)Richard Rodgers
Antonio Gates (vs. MIA) vs. Benjamin Watson (vs. DET)Benjamin Watson
Author's opinion; *=if active

Start: Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (at NO)

Eric Ebron sits in a can't-miss matchup.
Eric Ebron sits in a can't-miss matchup.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

While he's been far from the most reliable player at the position, Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron has the perfect matchup in Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints. 

That is what it's all about at such an unreliable position in the first place.

Ebron might have just three trips to double digits this year and has struggled with drops, sure. But the Saints allow the most points to the position at a whopping 11.7 on average, with four of their last five opponents totaling 12 or more with a high of 34 in there for good measure.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions understand the weakness too, so look for Ebron to have a huge day.

Sit: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYJ)

Owners continue to cling to Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. 

With any luck, his 84.6 percent of owners still find themselves in the fantasy playoffs. If they do, the trick is to go away from the big-name appeal.

Witten isn't really an option anymore. He hasn't scored a touchdown or reached double digits since the first week of the season. He has five or more catches in nine games this year, but that just hasn't translated.

Now Witten has to deal with the New York Jets, owners of a defense permitting the fifth-fewest points to his position. It's yet another sign owners don't have a choice but to look to someone else for help.

All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as are points-against info and ownership stats as of December 16. Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.

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