Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 15
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green fall into that category, to name a few. There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit. Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Cam Newton (at SD) – There’s nothing like finding yourself in the fantasy playoffs with a running quarterback on a roll. Cam Newton put up the most fantasy points in the league over the last six weeks and has been the top point-getter in each of the last three. In that time, he’s thrown for 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions while also rushing for 330 yards and another four TDs. He’s averaged a massive 34.5 fantasy points (standard scoring) in his last three games and has all the confidence in the world right now. San Diego has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks so there’s no reason to believe Newton won’t be able to keep up his torrid pace.
Josh Freeman (at NO) – Big Josh Freeman has come back down to Earth a bit lately tossing up just four TDs, one INT and an average of 229 yards in the last three weeks. His completion percentage has been awful as well throwing at just a 49.5 percent clip in that time, but he’s never been known for his accuracy anyway. This week, none of that will matter. Freeman had his best game of the season against the Saints back in Week 7, and though I don’t believe he’ll be able to match 420 yards and three touchdowns, he should be able to have a QB1 type of day anyway.
Andy Dalton (at Phi, Thursday night) – Andy Dalton has not been as effective the last couple of games as he was before, but this prime-time matchup against a weak Eagles defense may be just the thing he needs to get his confidence and playoff hopes back on track. Over his last five games, Dalton has failed to throw for more than 230 yards but he does have 11 touchdowns compared to three interceptions during that time. However, all three of those INTs and just two of the TDs came in past two games. That being said, the Eagles have been very generous to opposing quarterbacks this year allowing two or more TD passes in 10 of their last 11 games, so this is a good opportunity for Dalton to get his mojo back up and running.
Robert Griffin III (at Cle) – Despite leaving the game in the fourth quarter last weekend, Griffin was still able to put up top ten fantasy numbers for the week and continues to lead all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game. The word at this point is that Griffin’s sprained right knee isn’t that bad and that he definitely plans to play this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Personally, I had no doubt that he would, and since he's been practicing all week without incident, it seems I was right. There should be no worries with him being on the road, either, as he’s actually averaged more points away from home so far this year. Cleveland’s defense has improved mightily over the course of the season, but they still allow some big games here and there and should do so this weekend as they won’t be able to contain the talent of RGIII.
Eli Manning (at Atl) – It looks like Eli is back playing with the big boys in the top ten on a permanent basis now after three high-quality games in a row. Last week against the Saints was one of his best this season, as he threw for 259 yards and four touchdowns in the Giants victory. Week 15 looks like it will be more of the same for Eli as he travels down to Atlanta to face yet another high-flying offensive team. If the Giants are going to keep up in this one, they’ll have to do so through the air, so look for Manning to be slinging it around quite a bit this Sunday.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Carson Palmer (vs. KC)
Matthew Stafford (at Ari)
Colin Kaepernick (at NE, Sunday night)
QB2s & SLEEPERS
Tony Romo (vs. Pit)
Ben Roethlisberger (at Dal)
Philip Rivers (vs. Car)
Russell Wilson (at Buf)
Brandon Weeden (vs. Was)
Doug Martin (at NO) – After a weak performance in Denver back in Week 13, the “Muscle Hamster” got back on track last Sunday rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown while touching the ball a whopping 31 times against the Philadelphia Eagles. This week I expect another grand showing for the youngster with the Buccaneers traveling to New Orleans for a rematch with the defensively-challenged Saints. The last time they met back in Week 7, Martin was able to put up 122 total yards and touchdown en route to one of his finer fantasy outputs of the season. I’ll be very surprised if the rookie doesn’t put up nearly the same exact numbers this Sunday.
Jamaal Charles (at Oak) – After last weekend’s 165-yard outburst against the Cleveland Browns, Jamaal Charles now has three straight 100-yard games, four in his last five games, and a total of six on the season. The bonus last week, however, was that Charles was able to find the end zone for the fifth time this season (four rushing, one receiving) on a delicious 80-yard, highlight speed-run on the first play of the game. This week he’ll be taking on the Oakland Raiders, a defense that has allowed the second most rushing touchdowns and second most fantasy points to running backs this season, as well as two 100-yard rushers in the last three weeks alone. He’s fun to watch as is, but you won’t want to miss the “Ostrich” this weekend.
Alfred Morris (at Cle) – Alfred Morris has put together an astounding rookie season as he currently has 1,228 yards, seven touchdowns and the tenth most fantasy points per game. He also has a string of three straight 100-yard performances right now and leads all rookies with six on the season. This week he takes on a Cleveland Browns rush defense that is getting better, though they just allowed Jamaal Charles to run for 165 yards against them last week. They’ve also been pretty porous against NFC East teams allowing a running back from each of the other squads (LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw, Felix Jones) to put up double-digit fantasy points against them. A touchdown may be a bit hard to come by, but I expect his 100-yard game streak to increase to four in this one.
Trent Richardson (vs. Was) – Trent Richardson continues to plod along at a very slow pace putting up his ninth game of the season with less than 3.7 yards per carry last week against the Chiefs. As usual, however, he was able to save his fantasy owners for the week by crossing the goal line twice to give him 10 total touchdowns on the season. This week he’ll be at home against a better than average Redskins rush D, even though they have given up two 100-yard rushers in the last two weekends. They’re also not very good at defending running backs that excel in the passing game, so Trent should be just fine for Week 15.
C.J. Spiller (vs. Sea) – C.J. Spiller and his 6.6 yards per carry will FOR SURE have the backfield all to himself this weekend, which is something fantasy owners have been waiting for ever since the minor tease of it happening earlier in the season. This time, however, Jackson is on I.R., so there’s no chance Spiller doesn’t carry the load. The only reason I don’t have Spiller higher in the rankings is because the Seattle Seahawks have been one of the best teams against the run for most of the season. They did, however, allow five running backs in a four-game stretch recently to put up double-digit fantasy points against them, so there’s no reason to think an explosive player like C.J. won’t do the same.
Darren McFadden (vs. KC) – For all intents and purposes, Darren McFadden has been a royal disappointment to millions of fantasy owners this year. The only thing I thought could prevent him from landing in the top-5 fantasy RBs this season were his normally injury-prone ways—and as it turned out, he stayed true to form and missed four full games when he was needed the most. You can be pissed as hell at him and tell yourself you’ll never waste a draft pick on Run DNP again, but this is the fantasy playoffs, folks. All emotions need to be put aside so that we can focus on the singular task at hand—winning the whole f’in thing. As it happens, McFadden has himself a nice matchup this weekend going up against a weak Kansas City defense. The Chiefs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards per game (131.2), seventh highest yards per carry (4.6 YPC) and ninth most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, so if you’re willing to put your anger on hold for a week, you might want to give Run DNP a chance.
Others with RB1 Potential:
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at Phi, Thursday night)
Bryce Brown (vs. Cin, Thursday night)
Frank Gore (at NE, Sunday night)
Ryan Mathews (vs. Car)
Steven Jackson (vs. Min)
RB2s & SLEEPERS
Reggie Bush (vs. Jax)
Shonn Greene (at Ten, Monday night)
Bilal Powell (at Ten, Monday night)
Matt Forte (vs. GB)
Darren Sproles (vs. TB)
Mikel Leshoure (at Ari)
David Wilson (at Atl)
Ben Tate (vs. Ind)
LaMichael James (at NE, Sunday night)
Vincent Jackson (at NO) – Because it rang true again last week versus the Eagles decrepit pass D, I’ll say it one more time—if there’s one thing Vincent Jackson does super-duper well for his fantasy owners, it’s that he destroys poor pass defenses. The pass D he’ll be facing this week, the New Orleans Saints, had been progressing nicely over the last handful of games—that is, until they ran into Eli Manning and the Giants WR corps last weekend. Assuming he saw the game, V-Jax should be chomping at the bit to inflict his own damage on the Saints this Sunday, especially since he knows he can after putting up 216 yards and a touchdown against them in their first meeting. A repeat of those numbers isn’t likely, but I wouldn’t bet against it either.
Roddy White (vs. NYG) – Roddy had himself a top ten fantasy day last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers grabbing nine of his 11 targets for 117 yards and a touchdown. This week he’ll take on the same Giants team that knocked him out of the playoffs last season, so a little payback could be in order for the Super Bowl ring-less 31 year old here. White has had either a touchdown or 100 yards (or both) in eight of his last ten home games, so against a Giants pass D that has allowed the third most touchdowns, fourth most yards and fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, it wouldn’t shock me to see both come his way this weekend.
Marques Colston (vs. TB) – Colston hasn’t posted a 100-yard game since Week 5 and only has one touchdown in his last four games, but there’s nothing like a little home cookin’ against a pass defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season to turn his fortunes around. In fact, the Buccaneers have allowed 12 different receivers to put up double-digit fantasy points against them in their last eight games alone, so the opportunity for a big game is obviously there. The last time these two teams met back in Week 7, Colston grabbed seven of his 10 targets for 73 yards and a touchdown, numbers he should at least be able to repeat in this one.
Josh Gordon (vs. Was) – There was never a doubt about Josh Gordon’s talent, that’s for sure. However, it was a major question as to how long it would take for his understanding of the professional game to catch up to his dominating skills. Not very long at all is the answer. Gordon is in the top-15 in fantasy points over the last three weeks as well as the top 10 in both receiving yards and receptions. This week, fantasy owners have the joy of watching him face a bottom-three pass defense with the Browns welcoming the Redskins to town. Washington doesn’t have a single man in their secondary with either the size or speed to cover Gordon, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see the 21 year old phenom to put up his best fantasy numbers of the year here.
Victor Cruz (at Atl) – As I thought he would, Victor Cruz came back last week to post top ten fantasy numbers catching eight passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Although the Atlanta Falcons pass D has been far superior to the Saints’ this season, I believe Cruz has another top tier performance this weekend. With the Falcons being amongst the highest scoring teams in the league this season, the Giants will need to pass the ball to stay in the game, which should mean plenty of targets for young Mr. Cruz. With Eli Manning on a roll and the Giants fighting to stay atop the NFC East, Victor should be able to contribute to what I believe will be a high scoring affair indoors at the dome in Atlanta.
Others with WR1 Potential:
Julio Jones (vs. NYG)
Danario Alexander (vs. Car)
Wes Welker (vs. SF, Sunday night)
Dez Bryant (vs. Pit)
Steve Smith (at SD)
WR2s & SLEEPERS
Cecil Shorts (at Mia)
Denarius Moore (vs. KC)
Lance Moore (vs. TB)
Mike Wallace (at Dal)
Michael Crabtree (at NE, Sunday night)
Mike Williams (at NO)
T.Y. Hilton (at Hou)
Chris Givens (vs. Min)
Jeremy Kerley (at Ten, Monday night)
Marvin Jones (at Phi, Thursday night)
Alshon Jeffery (vs. GB)
Rod Streater (vs. KC)
Dennis Pitta (vs. Den) –Dennis Pitta started the season out hot catching 18 balls and two touchdowns through the Ravens first three games. After a major lull between weeks four and nine, Pitta has gotten hot again nabbing three TDs in his last five games. This week might be a little strange with Baltimore firing their offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, but I believe this will actually be a good thing for Mr. Pitta. The team’s new OC, Jim Caldwell, has vowed to go back to the no-huddle offense which is precisely the scheme that put Dennis on the map early in the first place. He also happens to be going against a Broncos squad that has allowed the most touchdowns and second most fantasy points to tight ends this season, so things are looking pretty good for the Ravens’ TE in Week 15.
Martellus Bennett (at Atl) – I’m stating this one for the record right now: As Eli Manning goes, so go his tight ends. Whether it’s something he learned from his older brother throughout the years or something he developed on his own, Eli has made his tight end an integral part of the New York Giants offense over the years and it’s shown in Martellus Bennett’s stats this season. Bennett now has touchdowns in two straight games and the third most fantasy points in the league over the last three weeks. Considering the Falcons allow the seventh most fantasy points per game this season, Martellus looks to be a prime play for your Week 15 fantasy playoff matchup.
Vernon Davis (at NE, Sunday night) – I know it’s strange to see his name up here since he’s been nearly invisible in the stat column for almost a month now, but things change quickly in this crazy game we call fantasy football. The tight end position has been the most fickle of them all this season seeing anyone from Brandon Myers to Garrett Graham go off in any given week. At this point, all you can do is play the matchup game, and Vernon Davis certainly has a good one to look at here in Week 15. The New England Patriots have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends this season, with the best fantasy scores coming to tight ends on teams with a great running game. Obviously, the 49ers are included in that category, so even though it might be hard to trust Davis at this point, this might be the time to take a chance on him again.
Brandon Myers (vs. KC) – I would venture to say that Brandon Myers is the biggest surprise of this 2012 fantasy season. He’s at least in the top five, seeing how he only had 32 catches for 250 yards and zero touchdowns during his first three years in the league. Last week was certainly his worst fantasy performance of the season catching just one ball for a measly seven yards against the Broncos, but I don’t expect something like that to happen again this weekend. The Chiefs are in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed this season, but they haven’t fared well lately allowing two TDs and the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends over the last three weeks.
Jermaine Gresham (at Phi, Thursday night) – Jermaine Gresham has established himself as a top ten fantasy tight end this season and though he was held to just 43 yards without a TD last week, he’s still found himself in the end zone three times in his five games. He’s also been one of the few consistent guys at his position this season and finds himself with a good matchup for fantasy owners this Thursday night. The Philadelphia Eagles have been atrocious on defense for quite awhile now and I highly doubt the trend ends here against the Bengals. I wouldn’t expect a 100-yard game because that’s not really his thing, but he should be able break 60 yards and has a good chance for a TD as well.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Jason Witten (vs. Pit)
Heath Miller (at Dal)
Greg Olsen (at SD)
Dallas Clark (at NO)
TE2s & SLEEPERS
Kyle Rudolph (at StL)
Tony Scheffler (at Ari)
Antonio Gates (vs. Car)
Jermichael Finley (at Chi)
Ben Watson (vs. Was)
Craig Stevens (vs. NYJ)
Clay Harbor (vs. Cin, Thursday night)
Jeff Cumberland (at Ten, Monday night)
Andrew Luck (at Hou)
Joe Flacco (vs. Den)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Sea)
Jay Cutler (vs. GB)
Stevan Ridley (vs. SF, Sunday night)
Michael Turner (vs. NYG)
Jonathan Dwyer (at Dal)
Beanie Wells (vs. Det)
Montell Owens (at Mia)
Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Det)
Torrey Smith (vs. Den)
Kenny Britt (vs. NYJ, Monday night)
Antonio Brown (at Dal)
Miles Austin (vs. Pit)
Jeremy Maclin (vs. Cin, Thursday night)
Scott Chandler (vs. Sea)
Marcedes Lewis (at Mia)
Dwayne Allen (at Hou)
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