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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 15: Latest Lineup Advice for Fantasy Playoffs

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2017

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 10:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Going into Week 15, fantasy football owners should have a good idea as to how difficult the playoffs, semifinals or otherwise, will be over the course of the weekend. 

In a word: difficult. This is the year of the Case Keenum breakout and the injury bug claiming Carson Wentz right at the finish line. It's the year of more rookie backs like Alvin Kamara looking like some of the best outright players in the league while the old guard like Adrian Peterson fades. 

These hurdles continue in Week 15, where the usual late-season drama, ranging from spoilers to tough divisional matchups, make the task at hand all the more difficult. 

Below, let's run through matchup comparisons at each spot and highlight some notable start-sit decisions to help assist in the process. 

        

Quarterback

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Cam Newton (vs. GB) vs. Russell Wilson (vs. LAR)Russell Wilson
Matt Ryan (at TB) vs Ben Roethlisberger (vs. NE)Ben Roethlisberger
Drew Brees (vs. NYJ) vs. Kirk Cousins (vs. ARI)Drew Brees
Jay Cutler (at BUF) vs. Matthew Stafford (vs. CHI)Jay Cutler
Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. TEN) vs. Andy Dalton (at MIN)Jimmy Garoppolo
Author's opinion

Start: Cam Newton, CAR (vs. GB) 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 10:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Str
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It isn't often news for an opponent that heavily weighs the scales for a starting quarterback, yet here is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers getting a huge boost because the Green Bay Packers will have Aaron Rodgers under center in Week 15. 

What might have been a boring, grind-it-out affair as Newton faced Brett Hundley has turned into a possible shootout, which is nothing but good news for owners in need. 

Newton, after all, has scored at least 15 points in five games in a row with a high of 35.66. And while he hasn't thrown for more than 200 yards in three consecutive games, he's rushed for 50 or more yards four of his last five. 

The versatility in what might be a shootout featuring playoff implications makes Newton a must-start against a Packers defense allowing the 12th-most points to quarterbacks on average. 

         

Sit: Jared Goff, LAR (at SEA)

Jared Goff's turning the corner and playing well all year has provided an unexpected boost to plenty of fantasy owners, as evidenced by his four outings of 20 or more points. 

The fun ends in Week 15, though. 

Goff faces a trap capable of derailing even the best quarterbacks when his Los Angeles Rams visit the Seattle Seahawks, not only owners of one of the league's best home-field advantages, but of a defense allowing the eighth-fewest points to the position. 

Owners likely avoided this matchup in Week 5 and were smart to as Goff struggled his way to 9.72 points. A similar line might be in store here, meaning owners still alive need to take a hard look at the streaming process. 

       

Running Back

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Le'Veon Bell (vs. NE) vs. Todd Gurley (at SEA)Le'Veon Bell
Jay Ajayi (at NYG) vs. LeSean McCoy (vs. MIA)LeSean McCoy
Devonta Freeman (at TB) vs. Alex Collins (at CLE)Devonta Freeman
Derrick Henry (vs. SF) vs. Mark Ingram (vs. NYJ)Derrick Henry
Jerick McKinnon (vs. CIN ) vs. Giovani Bernard (at MIN)Jerick McKinnon
Author's opinion

Start: Latavius Murray, MIN (vs. CIN) 

Owners know there is little to gain without taking risks in fantasy football, making Minnesota Vikings lead back Latavius Murray quite the interesting play. 

Murray enters Week 15 off a two-point performance, though it doesn't tell the story of his full season. In fact, Murray has 12.8 or more points in three of his last five outings and looks like a strong matchup-based play for an offense trying to keep things balanced for Keenum. 

The matchup is as kind as it gets for Murray in Week 15, where a Cincinnati Bengals team allowing the seventh-most points to running backs and featuring all three starting linebackers out with injuries comes to town. 

Murray should feast in a ball-control game against a bad opponent, meaning owners shouldn't hesitate. 

       

Sit: Lamar Miller, HOU (at JAX) 

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 10: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans rushes past the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

For a second there, Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller looked like he could have one of the best campaigns of his career while playing off breakout rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. 

Then Watson went down and Miller reverted to his typical up-and-down play. He's sitting on single-digit performances in four of his last six games despite 15 or more carries in each, so it's going to take a good matchup for owners to see him get back on track. 

Problem is, Miller doesn't have that in Week 15 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, owners of a defense allowing the eighth-fewest points to the position. Back in Week 1, Miller carried it 17 times for 65 yards against the same unit, good for 9.6 points. 

Though name recognition is strong here, owners still alive in the playoffs will want to look elsewhere.  

     

Wide Receiver

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
DeAndre Hopkins (at JAX) vs. Larry Fitzgerald (at WAS)DeAndre Hopkins
Julio Jones (at TB) vs. Antonio Brown (vs. NE)Antonio Brown
Adam Thielen (vs. CIN) vs. Nelson Agholor (at NYG)Adam Thielen
Doug Baldwin (vs. LAR) vs. Michael Thomas (vs. NYJ)Michael Thomas
Mike Evans (vs. ATL) vs. Corey Coleman (vs. BAL)Mike Evans
Author's opinion

Start: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at WAS) 

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after a reception to move him into third all time for receiving during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Decemb
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Speaking of name recognition, it doesn't get much bigger than Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald. 

Owners probably have a love-hate relationship with the veteran, though. His last three weeks tell it plainly enough, as a 15.8-point performance got sandwiched between a pair of outings featuring less than five points apiece. 

Fitzgerald is now firmly a boom-or-bust player, though fortunately for owners in need, this is a boom week thanks to a game against the Washington Redskins, owners of a defense allowing the 15th-most points to the spot. 

It doesn't sound like much, but the Redskins have outright collapsed since the middle of November and the pass defense has gone the way of the dinosaur, even letting Tyrell Williams tally 19.2 points in Week 14. 

          

Sit: A.J. Green, CIN (at MIN)

This one hurts. 

It's never fun to avoid a big-name player like Cincinnati Bengals wideout A.J. Green. But even Green owners can understand—after all, this is a guy who has seven single-digit performances on the season, one of those a self-inflicted wound because he got ejected for fighting. 

Now Green has to hit the road while his team wraps up a lost season and faces a Vikings defense allowing the 12th-fewest points to wideouts. Even worse, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer used to serve as the Bengals defensive coordinator, so he knows a thing or two about slowing a wideout his units lined up across from daily. 

Luckily for owners who would otherwise rely on Green, he plays an easily streamable position. 

     

Tight End

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Zach Ertz (at NYG) vs. Adam Shaheen (at DET)Zach Ertz
Jason Witten (at OAK) vs. Rob Gronkowski (at PIT)Rob Gronkowski
Delanie Walker (at SF) vs. Jesse James (vs. NE)Delanie Walker
Evan Engram (vs. PHI) vs. Eric Ebron (vs. CHI)Evan Engram
Jimmy Graham (vs. LAR) vs. Stephen Anderson (at JAX)Jimmy Graham
Author's opinion

Start: Jason Witten, DAL (at OAK) 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 10:   Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the New York Giants during the second half in the game at MetLife Stadium on December 10, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has scared owners over the past two weeks, catching only two of his seven targets. 

Both went for touchdowns, though, so no harm, no foul. 

Witten keeps seeing sporadic usage in the Dallas offense as of late, which might cause some alarm. But like clockwork, the annual struggles from the Oakland Raiders against tight ends continues, as this time they cough up the seventh-most points to the position. 

Given the fact we know this, Dallas coaches should as well and the veteran should put up a timely big day. 

      

Sit: Cameron Brate, TB (vs. ATL) 

This isn't the week to take a big risk at tight end. 

Given the nature of the position this year, taking risks like Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starter Cameron Brate has made sense. 

But with everything on the line in Week 15, Brate is a must-avoid option. He scored 1.1 points in Week 14, a performance following a 15.9-point outburst on two touchdowns in Week 13.

But now Brate has to deal with an Atlanta Falcons defense allowing the seventh-fewest points to the spot—and they ate him alive in Week 12, limiting him to 0.6 points. 

      

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.    

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