Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 15 of the 2015 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Matthew Stafford (DET, QB)
36, 29, 31, and 38. That's how many points Cam Newton, Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, and Eli Manning put up on the Saints. Matt Stafford is ranked 7th this week with a tasty matchup against a Saints team that gives up the 3rd-most passing yards per game.
Start 'em Blake Bortles (JAC, QB)
One spot below Stafford this week is Blake Bortles who has been a fantasy godsend for owners this year. His matchup against the Falcons is tough on paper but Bortles has the weapons and the talent to put up some big numbers. He's ranked ahead of Rivers, Carr, Taylor, Fitzpatrick, and Big Ben.
Start 'em Tim Hightower (NO, RB)
Many thought that CJ Spiller would get the bulk of the workload with Mark Ingram out for the year, but it was Tim Hightower who got the nod instead. With 28 attempts, he was clearly the guy the Saints wanted to feed the ball to. Detroit gives up the 12th-most rushing yards per game, and while we think Hightower's #6 ranking this week is way too aggressive, he's a solid RB2.
Start 'em David Johnson (ARI, RB)
Who would have thought that David Johnson would be the guy that made your fantasy playoffs successful? He's ranked 3rd this week with a sweet matchup against the Eagles. Philly gives up the 5th-most yards per game and double digit fantasy production is virtually guaranteed.
Start 'em Brandin Cooks (NO, WR)
Based upon his #11 ranking, Brandin Cooks can be penciled in as a WR1 this week against a Detroit Lions secondary that has not given up a lot of yards through the air. Not many WR's have reached double digit territory and we'd encourage some caution here. With so many options available to Brees, Cooks could easily turn up a stinker, but we think Brees will look his way often enough to make him at least a solid WR2.
Start 'em Doug Baldwin (SEA, WR)
If you were sitting at a blackjack table in Vegas and were on a hot streak, you don't walk away from the table. Doug Baldwin is on that kind of hot streak. Facing a Cleveland defense that gives up the 9th-most passing yards per game is the kind of hand that you want your dealer to deal up.
Start 'em Benjamin Watson (NO, TE)
Ranked #5 this week is Benjamin Watson who will face the Lions on Monday night. Detroit has given up an average of more than 10 fantasy points to opposing TE's this year.
Start 'em Richard Rodgers (GB, TE)
If you're Aaron Rodgers' favorite target, you're going to get some opportunities. After that amazing Hail Mary, Richard Rodgers is that guy. Playing against an Oakland team that gives up the 5th-most passing yards, there should be plenty of targets to go around. With a #10 ranking this week, he's a borderline TE1.
Start 'em New England Patriots (NE, DEF)
The Patriots defense finds itself ranked 4th this week facing a Titans defense that is giving up an average of 10 points each week.
Start 'em Graham Gano (CAR, K)
The #1 kicker this week is projected to be Graham Gano who has put up solid numbers for fantasy owners all season. The Giants give up the 3rd-most points to fantasy kickers this year making Gano a must-start.
Sit 'em AJ McCarron (CIN, QB)
With Andy Dalton out, it's AJ McCarron's time to shine. Nothing could be better to help him shine than a matchup with the 49ers. San Fran gives up the 6th-most passing yards, but are you really ready to start McCarron in the fantasy playoffs? We don't think so.
Sit 'em Eli Manning (NYG, QB)
Eli has been putting up some big numbers thanks to Odell Beckham Jr, but his #17 ranking this week is because the Panthers give up the 5th-fewest yards through the air. Carolina has held Matt Ryan, Matt Cassel, Kirk Cousins, and Sam Bradford under 10 points. Eli will do better than that, but this is going to be a tough game for him.
Sit 'em Darren McFadden (DAL, RB)
Nobody gives up fewer yards on the ground than the Jets, and if you're a Darren McFadden owner, that's not the kind of stats that should make you happy. Look at the fantasy production from RB's this year and single digits are the norm.
Sit 'em Giovani Bernard (CIN, RB)
On paper, this is a sweet matchup...for the lead running back. The 49ers have given up solid fantasy days to the starter, but the second back has generally been held to single digits (Buck Allen 2 pts, Rashad Jennings 6 pts, James Starks 4 pts, David Johnson 4 pts). Jeremy Hill is likely to eat into Gio Bernard's lunch and Bernard's #23 ranking makes him a low-end RB2/high flex play.
Sit 'em Dez Bryant (DAL, WR)
What kind of crazy world do we live in when Dez Bryant lands on the Sit list during the fantasy playoffs? That's the world we find ourselves in with his #31 ranking this week. It's not that Dez is playing poorly, it's that Matt Cassel has been unable to get the ball downfield to him. He's just too risky to start right now.
Sit 'em DeSean Jackson (WAS, WR)
Less than half of the wide receivers who have played against Buffalo this year have managed double digit fantasy production. The fantasy playoffs are not where you want to swing and miss. DeSean Jackson is going to be a boom or bust kind of guy. If the Bills were able to keep Brandon Marshall, AJ Green, and OBJ under 10 points (std), what are the odds on DJax?
Sit 'em Tyler Eifert (CIN, TE)
Are you kidding me? Sit Tyler Eifert? Assuming that Eiffert plays (concussion), he's got AJ McCarron under center which isn't a pretty option. Ranked 19th this week, he becomes a low-end TE2 based upon the industry consensus.
Sit 'em Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
Sitting Witten isn't a decision to take lightly during the fantasy playoffs, but when you look at his production and combine that with the poor QB play of Matt Cassel, it's awfully tough to trust him. The Jets are allowing an average of just 6 points per game to TE's.
Sit 'em Baltimore Ravens (BAL, DEF)
This is not the same Baltimore Ravens defense that struck fear into so many players for so many years. In fact, look all the way down the DEF rankings this week and you'll find the Ravens sitting dead last.
Sit 'em Dan Bailey (DAL, K)
It's tough to start any Cowboy this week and that extends all the way to the kicker position. The Jets have given up fewer than eight points on average to kickers and Dan Bailey has only hit double digits once this year. He's not likely to do it this week either.