Week 15 Starts and Sits
December 15, 2016 | Jackson Safon
We’re in week 15 which means either you just made the playoffs, you won a playoff game, or you got a bye. You’re on your way to being a closer. But you’re not there yet. And coffee is for closers.
Whether you watch Red Zone with the vitriol in which Alec Baldwin yells at incompetent salesmen or you do yard work all day and don’t check scores until the dinner, you’ve made it this far. So let’s work together to keep it rolling and to close.
Quick aside: if you play in a league that starts the playoffs in week 15 and has it extend into week 17, you need a new commissioner. Fantasy leagues that play in a week where the most valuable fantasy contributors have a chance to be sitting out, make absolutely zero sense and need to be amended immediately.
With that, let’s look at who to start and who to sit this week.
Start: Colin Kaepernick @ Atl
Based on FFToday’s scoring system, Kaepernick only scored 13 points last week and 2.2 the week before. Not exactly inspiring confidence going into one of the most important weeks of the year. But the weeks before that he had 38.1, 21.5, 26, 30.2, 19.6, and 20. The ceiling is extremely high with his added running ability, and he has a fantastic matchup this week against the Falcons.
Atlanta has given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks of any team and should be ahead the entire game, meaning Kaepernick will be chucking. Plus, with all the bad weather in December, Kaepernick being on the road isn’t so bad considering he’s in the comforts of a dome. I have him in a league with Stafford and I’m rolling with Kaepernick this week.
Other starts: Tyrod Taylor vs. Cle and Carson Palmer vs. NO
Sit: Matthew Stafford @ NYG
Speaking of Stafford, he’s in an awful situation this week. Despite practicing in full on Wednesday, Stafford has what sounds like a pretty serious injury to his middle finger that I would expect to leave him slightly erratic. While there isn’t any doubt that he will play, I’m skeptical he will be able to play to the best of his abilities. And Stafford at less than 100 percent is a recipe for disaster against a Giants defense that has been absolutely on fire recently.
Everyone knows how dominant they were against Dak Prescott last week, but the Giants have now allowed the second fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks all year. Stafford’s injury, the Giants’ defense, the weather, the road game, there’s just so many signs that point to sitting Stafford this week. I’m out.
Other sits: Marcus Mariota @ KC and Russell Wilson vs. LA
Start: Tevin Coleman vs. SF
Normally, I’m not a Coleman guy. I don’t really like his running style, and I think Devonta Freeman is a significantly better back. But this week would be the time to play both, or either. The 49ers’ rushing defense is a disaster, allowing the most fantasy points to running backs in the NFL by far. They’ve allowed at least 140 yards rushing in four of the past six weeks including 188 last week to the hobbled Jets.
The Falcons have a chance to put up 40 points for the second straight week, and I expect a good portion of that to come on the ground. Both Freeman and Coleman are elite plays this week; I expect one of them to be top-5 at the position this week. It’s hard to guess which one, but I’d be comfortable with either.
Other starts: Carlos Hyde @ Atl and Rashad Jennings vs. Det
Sit: Ryan Matthews @ Bal
The Ravens are just a disaster matchup for running backs. Their defensive line is absolutely elite, led by Brandon Williams and rookie Michael Pierce, who has one of the best run stopping percentages in the league. They’re going to absolutely wreck everything the Eagles’ offensive line wants to do. Matthews finally returned from injury last week and did an okay job, but nothing spectacular.
The problem with Matthews is that he adds nothing in the passing game, as Darren Sproles holds down that role. Sproles might be out this week as he’s in concussion protocol, but I’m still not confident in Matthews’ ability to excel in that part of the game. I don’t expect him to top 50 yards rushing this week, so unless he sneaks in a score, he will have a pretty poor game. Sit.
Other sits: Justin Forsett vs. NE and Todd Gurley @ Sea
Start: Golden Tate @ NYG
This seemingly goes against what I said previously about Matt Stafford and the Giants’ defense, right? Yes, that’s right. But despite all those factors against Stafford, I think Tate has a good game. The reason is, I don’t think the Lions will try and have Stafford make a bunch of difficult throws with his injured finger, and will continue to try and get the ball out quickly. That means a ton of Golden Tate.
This is more of a PPR play than a standard one, but I think Tate could easily end up with eight or nine receptions, so even if his yardage total is low, his fantasy output should be buoyed. He’s obviously had a really good second half to the season, but if you were worried about the Lions’ passing game in this one, I think he’s the guy who will be fine. Start him with confidence.
Other starts: DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jax (please) and Dontrelle Inman vs. Oak
Sit: Allen Robinson @ Hou
It’s just sad at this point. He hasn’t had more than three catches or 31 yards since week 10. Last week he only had three targets. He definitely isn’t this bad of a receiver, but you can’t feel confident starting him. The Texans have a great pass defense and are allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to receivers. Never thought I’d say this, but sit Allen Robinson in the fantasy playoffs.
Other sits: Rishard Matthews @ KC and Jordan Matthews @ Bal
Start: Cameron Brate @ Dal
I don’t know how you can sit him anymore. He’s been an absolute monster. He’s had at least four catches and 40 yards OR a touchdown in six of the last seven weeks. Maybe you know that and maybe this is an obvious call, but he’s still being ranked in the bottom end of TE1s by most analysts. I think he’s a must play.
Despite having fast linebackers, the Cowboys are allowing the ninth most fantasy points to tight ends this season, and I think Brate could help you get that coffee you’re craving.
Other starts: Jack Doyle @ Min and C.J. Fiedorowicz @ Dal
Sit: Martellus Bennett @ Den
Crazy, I know. But despite having a great fantasy week on national television, Bennett still only had four targets. He’s not being targeted at a high volume by Brady, so I can’t count on him this week against a great Broncos pass defense. Denver is top-10 against tight ends, so I’m a little scared. I’d expect James White and Dion Lewis to be the stars of the Patriots’ passing game this week.
Other sits: Dennis Pitta vs. Phi and Coby Fleener @ Ari