Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Early Fantasy Lineup Advice for Matchups of Week 15

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2021

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Early Fantasy Lineup Advice for Matchups of Week 15

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    We've reached Week 15 in the 2021 NFL season, which means for most season-long leagues, it's playoff time! If you're lucky enough to be in your postseason, congratulations. If not, now is the perfect time to jump into some daily fantasy sports (DFS) action.

    While bye weeks are a thing of the past, not every top option is going to be available, so managers will need to pick and choose wisely. The Cleveland Browns, for example, are likely to be without several players for their game on Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

    According to Dan Labbe of, 16 active players are on the reserve/COVID-19 list—including quarterback Baker Mayfield and wideout Jarvis Landry.

    Whether you're vying to win a league title or simply looking to win a week-long game, picking the right matchups is key. 

    Here, we'll dive into some of the best and worst plays of Week 15. To avoid obvious sits, we'll be looking specifically at players rostered in at least 50 percent of Yahoo and/or ESPN leagues, according to FantasyPros. All picks are based on points-per-reception scoring. 

Week 15 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Start 'Em

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

    Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

    Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins


    Sit 'Em

    Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

    Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts

    Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers

    AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers

    Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

    Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

    Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

Start 'Em: Nick Chubb vs. Las Vegas Raiders

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Browns running back Nick Chubb hasn't been added to the reserve/COVID-19 list yet. Assuming he plays on Saturday, he's still going to face a difficult situation. Along with Mayfield, left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. and guard Wyatt Teller are on the list.

    This means that Chubb won't have the benefit of one of the league's better blocking units. Cleveland isn't going to go into the game feeling sorry for itself, though.

    "I'd like to see the Browns play well against the Raiders," coach Kevin Stefanski—who also tested positive this week—said, when asked if he'd like to see the game postponed, per NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano.

    If the Browns are going to have a chance, they're going to have to ride Chubb early and often. The line issues are clearly problematic, but Chubb is a terrific yards-after-contact runner. In fact, he leads the league with an average of 3.2 yards after contact.

    Even if the line isn't blowing open holes, Chubb can find running room, especially against a Las Vegas team that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing backs. Chubb was well-contained by the Baltimore Ravens in his last two games, but expect a turnaround this week.

Sit 'Em: Joe Burrow at Denver Broncos

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    It's hard to recommend sitting Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. The second-year gunslinger is good. Like, really good. And he's been a reliable fantasy option in most weeks. The LSU product has had exactly one game without a touchdown pass this season. He's also had two touchdowns (including rushing) in each of the last two games.

    The issue is that Burrow has had turnover issues in 2021. He's tied for the league lead with 14 interceptions and has fumbled five times in his past six outings (two of them lost).

    On the road and against a talented Denver Broncos pass defense, Burrow doesn't have the floor this week that I'd prefer in a playoff starter.

    Denver has allowed fewer than 200 passing yards in three of its last four games. Over the last six games, the Broncos have forced 10 turnovers. For a team with a turnover problem like Cincinnati, that's a bad combination.

    The Broncos have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In a win-or-go-home matchup, I'd examine other options at quarterback.

Start 'Em: Brandon Aiyuk vs. Atlanta Falcons

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers have pushed themselves back into the playoff mix—thanks in no small part to the emergence of Deebo Samuel as a backfield weapon. Samuel missed the Week 13 loss against Minnesota because of injury, but he has carried at least five times in each of his past four games.

    Over that span, Samuel has amassed 218 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.

    While Samuel has been emerging in the ground game, second-year wideout Brandon Aiyuk has emerged in the passing game. He's topped 50 receiving yards in each of his last four games and has found the end zone twice.

    Aiyuk's production isn't fluky, either. He's been targeted 30 times over the past four games and has legitimately become a centerpiece of the passing game. 

    "There's been something here that just his attention to detail and the littler things, that's been very impressive," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, per Jose Luis Sanchez III of FanNation.

    San Francisco trusts Aiyuk. Against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to receivers, managers should, too.

Sit 'Em: Michael Pittman Jr. vs. New England Patriots

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Like Burrow, Michael Pittman Jr. is a player I don't like sitting. He's the most reliable pass-catcher on the Indianapolis Colts' roster, and he tends to see a sizeable workload more often than not.

    Over the last two weeks combined, Pittman has been targeted 18 times and carried the ball twice.

    The problem is that the Colts are hosting the New England Patriots, who—in case you haven't been paying attention—are very good on defense. Pittman is likely to draw a heavy dose of cornerback J.C. Jackson. In my opinion, Jackson should be a sleeper candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

    Jackson has seven interceptions, a league-high 17 passes defended and has allowed an opposing passer rating of just 38.9 in coverage.

    With a pass rush that can get after quarterback Carson Wentz, the Patriots present an absolutely miserable matchup in Week 15. Only three teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than New England, and the trend isn't going to change just because these teams are playing on a Saturday.


    Fantasy roster information and points allowed via FantasyPros. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.