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Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Advice on Top Fantasy Football Stars

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2018

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is hit by Detroit Lions middle linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) during the first half of NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

For those NFL fantasy football owners heading into league championships or cruising through consolation brackets, the dream is unearthing a Derrick Henry. 

The Tennessee Titans running back erupted for 47.8 points on 238 yards and four touchdowns in Week 14—after only hitting double digits four times prior and never hitting the 20-point mark all season. 

Most won't be able to find any championship-winning wild card like that, of course. The best thing is perusing a solid-looking Week 15 slate and using season-long developments to pick the best possible lineup. 

Let's assist below by comparing some of the week's notable players to find the best values and highlight some notable stars in start-sit question marks. 

        

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Cam Newton (vs. NO) vs. Kirk Cousins (vs. MIA)Cam Newton
Jared Goff (vs. PHI) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. NE)Ben Roethlisberger
Andrew Luck (vs. DAL) vs. Patrick Mahomes (vs. LAC)Patrick Mahomes
Drew Brees (at CAR) vs. Russell Wilson (at SF)Drew Brees
Philip Rivers (at KC) vs. Deshaun Watson (at NYJ)Philip Rivers
Author's opinion

Start to Know: Derek Carr, OAK (at CIN) 

Relying on Derrick Henry in Week 14 was a weird idea too, especially with so much at stake. 

It's a similar story for Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr here. He's risky, but it's hard to ignore the fact he's scored 18.78 or more points over his last two outings with five touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Clearly heating up, Carr next gets to take on a Cincinnati Bengals defense allowing the second-most points to quarterbacks on average this season. The Cincinnati defense is both bad (a coordinator was already fired) and hurt, having allowed seven opposing passers to breach the 20-point mark. 

Considering rookies like Baker Mayfield (25.92 points) and Lamar Jackson (16.9) have lit up the unit recently, Carr should reach his big upside. 

      

Star to Sit: Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at MIN) 

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn't a terrible surprise-performance candidate as the season wears down. He's back from injury and heating up for a bad team. 

But he's also going into a game where he could get steamrolled. 

While Tannehill has 15.98 or more points in three consecutive games since his return, highlighted by eight touchdowns and one interception, he's looking at a road game against a Minnesota Vikings defense allowing the sixth-fewest points to quarterbacks. 

Not only has no quarterback scored more than 20 points on the unit since Week 5, it just held Russell Wilson to fewer than 10.

       

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Ezekiel Elliott (at IND) vs. Lamar Miller (at NYJ)Ezekiel Elliott
Saquon Barkley (vs. TEN) vs. Derrick Henry (at NYG)Saquon Barkley
Christian McCaffrey (vs. NO) vs. Phillip Lindsay (vs. CLE)Phillip Lindsay
Joe Mixon (vs. OAK) vs. David Johnson (at ATL)David Johnson
Alvin Kamara (at CAR) vs. Nick Chubb (at DEN)Alvin Kamara
Author's opinion

Start to Know: David Johnson, ARI (at ATL) 

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson might save his best for last. 

Johnson wraps up plenty of fantasy leagues over the weekend with a game against the Atlanta Falcons, a defense surrendering the fourth-most points to running backs and the most catches outright to the position. 

That's a money position for Johnson to find himself in and droves better than in recent weeks, as he's scored a maximum of 10.10 over his last three outings. 

Road game or not, Atlanta's injured unit should help Johnson look more like his MVP-self from a year ago. Or as owners might hope, his Week 10, 33.8-point self. Given this one could turn into a shootout, the upside here is immense. 

         

Star to Sit: Marlon Mack, IND (vs. DAL) 

Gary McCullough/Associated Press

One would think a running back taking a healthy dose of snaps next to Andrew Luck would be a reliable producer. 

Not so for Marlon Mack of the Indianapolis Colts, who has now failed to hit double digits in two consecutive games, an oddity considering he scored a rushing touchdown last time out. 

Alas, Mack's string of bad matchups continues at the worst possible time for owners. Next, he's looking at a home game against the Dallas Cowboys, owners of a defense standing tall by only allowing the fifth-fewest points to backs this year. 

No running back has scored more than 10.2 points against Dallas since Week 9, so Mack's versatility might not mean much for the third straight week. 

       

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Keenan Allen (at KC) vs. Jarvis Landry (at DEN)Keenan Allen
Michael Thomas (at CAR) vs. Robert Woods (vs. PHI)Michael Thomas
DeAndre Hopkins (at NYJ) vs. Davante Adams (at CHI)DeAndre Hopkins
Amari Cooper (at IND) vs. Stefon Diggs (vs. MIA)Amari Cooper
Josh Gordon (at PIT) vs. Tyler Lockett (at SF)Tyler Lockett
Author's opinion

Start to Know: D.J. Moore, CAR (vs. NO)

It is now or never for another D.J. Moore breakout. 

The Carolina Panthers rookie has been a stud at points this season, going for double digits four times this season once given a healthy amount of playing time, reaching a high of 25.2. 

While the Panthers are in a freefall perhaps unmatched by any team, Moore's usage has still remained consistent, as he's seen eight or more targets in four consecutive games and counting. 

The trend doesn't figure to stop, especially not against a New Orleans Saints defense coughing up the most points to wideouts on average. Moore should be the primary target in a game possibly turning into a shootout, so he boasts some of the week's top upside. 

       

Star to Sit: Corey Davis, TEN (at NYG) 

The Corey Davis rollercoaster doesn't look like it will hit another peak anytime soon. 

In large part thanks to Henry's aforementioned outburst, Davis only put up 3.1 points last time out, slashing any hope he could keep riding high after showings of 21.5 and 12.9 points. 

Davis is now tasked with finding some way to produce against a New York Giants team allowing the eighth-fewest points to his position. But the problem isn't as simple as it seems, with his Titans on the road in the cold and likely wanting to stick with the hot hand. 

That's Henry, not Davis. So while Davis' upside has been better than most over the second half of the season, a bit of friendly fire and a bad matchup makes him a sit candidate. 

          

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Travis Kelce (vs. LAC) vs. C.J. Uzomah (vs. OAK)Travis Kelce
Zach Ertz (at LAR) vs. Jared Cook (at CIN)Zach Ertz
Eric Ebron (vs. DAL) vs. Evan Engram (vs. TEN)Eric Ebron
George Kittle (vs. SEA) vs. Antonio Gates (at KC)George Kittle
Rob Gronkowski (at PIT) vs. Jimmy Graham (at CHI)Rob Gronkowski
Author's opinion

Start to Know: David Njoku, CLE (at DEN) 

The resurgence of the Cleveland Browns on the fantasy scene has been a fun surprise—and David Njoku might once again get in on the action as the season winds down. 

Njoku has been one of fantasy's hottest names at random points of the season, putting up 13 or more points three times and receiving at least seven targets in a game five times. 

A matchup with the Denver Broncos could help Njoku produce one of the best games of his season considering they permit the fifth-most points to the position. 

When the Broncos cough up big games to tight ends, they do so in dramatic fashion. A week ago, George Kittle put up 30.5, and while Njoku might not boast that sort of upside, double digits and a big boost to lineups seems likely. 

       

Star to Sit: Evan Engram, NYG (vs. TEN) 

Evan Engram has had multiple things working against him all season. 

For one, he's been hurt. Two, the New York Giants like to utilize multiple players at the position in their offense. Both factors would explain why Engram only has two double-digit outings this year. 

Still, Engram teased in his return in Week 14, putting up 9.2 points on three catches. But hope shouldn't blind owners from the fact Tennessee allow the fewest points outright to the position. 

Ten notable tight ends haven't reached the five-point mark against the Titans this year, so that combined with the Giants' offense makes Engra a must-sit option. 

          

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

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