Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 15

Written by Eric Moody
December 10, 2019
1,638 views

Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 15

Start 'Em and Sit 'Em is the definitive weekly study of NFL Matchups and the effect they'll have on your fantasy football team. It will not focus on obvious players like Aaron Rodgers, Dalvin Cook, Davante Adams, or Travis Kelce. All player matchups are based on PPR formats. The column will leverage all of the stats, advanced metrics and other resources available at FantasyData. For your final starting lineup decisions, please review our weekly fantasy football rankings. You can also reach out to me on Twitter (@EricNMoody).

The 14th week of the 2019 NFL season was defined by a number of astonishing performances. Drew Brees completed 29 of 40 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns in the Saints win over the 49ers. He finished as the QB1 and also had a rushing touchdown. 

Austin Ekeler rushed eight times for 101 yards in the Chargers win over the Jaguars. He finished as the RB1 while catching four of five targets for 112 yards and a touchdown. 

A.J. Brown caught five of seven targets for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans win over the Raiders. He finished as the WR1. 

Zach Ertz caught nine of 13 targets for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles win over the Giants. He finished as the TE1. 

If you took action on the recommendations from last week's column here are some of the players you would have had in your starting lineup:

  • Carson Wentz
  • Sam Darnold
  • Jacoby Brissett
  • Devonta Freeman
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Zach Pascal 
  • Tyler Boyd
  • A.J. Brown

Are you staring at your fantasy football starting lineup this week wondering what happened? You put together an amazing team during the draft. Others in your league were envious of the players you had on your bench. There was only one problem. You left points on your bench. This shortcoming may have cost you a victory in Week 14. Are you aware of the old adage “start your studs”? If the answer is yes then it’s time to erase that phrase from your memory. It’s okay to take informed risks. These are risks in which the calculated potential payoff outweighs the calculated possible loss, given the knowledge someone has about the circumstances. You’re in the right place to accelerate that change. I will reference expected points (EP), fantasy points over expectation (FPOE), and breakaway runs. EP is based on the average fantasy point value of plays in similar down, distance, and field position instances. FPOE, on the other hand, takes a player’s actual fantasy points and subtracts out the expected points. EP measures volume while FPOE measures efficiency. Start Percentage shows the number of ESPN fantasy leagues a player is started in divided by the number of leagues he is eligible in. This helps indicate how the public views a player. Without further ado, here are my recommendations for Week 15 as we enter the second week of the fantasy playoffs.

QUARTERBACKS

Start Jameis Winston (41.8% ST)

Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 15Winston completed 33 of 45 passes for a career-high 456 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions in the Buccaneers' win over the Colts. This happened to be the third-highest single-game passing yards total in franchise history according to Pro Football Reference. Winston also had a rushing touchdown. Did you know that he owns three of the four 4,000 yard passing seasons in Buccaneers franchise history? Winston is dealing with a fracture in his thumb, but ESPN's Jenna Laine reported that the team is "optimistic" that he'll play in Week 15 against the Lions. Detroit's defense has allowed an average of 33.2 pass attempts, 22.2 completions, 270.6 passing yards, two touchdowns, 0.4 interceptions, and 22 fantasy points per game over its last five. Winston can be viewed as a boom or bust QB1. He's averaging 316.5 passing yards, 395.2 air yards, two touchdowns, and 1.8 interceptions per game this season. 

Start Ryan Tannehill (24.7% ST)

Tannehill completed 21 of 27 passes for 391 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the Titans win over the Raiders. He's had seven consecutive games with two touchdowns. Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers are the only quarterbacks in NFL history according to Pro Football Reference to complete 75 percent of their passes and record a passer rating of 130 or more for three straight games. With the former first-round quarterback under center the Titans are averaging the second-most points per game (31.4) in the NFL. Tannehill has averaged 25.5 fantasy points per game since replacing Marcus Mariota as the starter back in Week 7. He faces a Texans' defense that has allowed an average of 34 pass attempts, 21 completions, 259 passing yards, two touchdowns, 0.8 interceptions, and 24 fantasy points per game to top quarterback scorers over its last five. Tannehill is once again on the QB1 radar. 

Start Baker Mayfield (22.7% ST)

Mayfield completed 11 of 24 passes for 192 and two interceptions in the Browns win over the Bengals. He also had a seven-yard rushing touchdown. Mayfield's averaged 239.2 passing yards, 262.3 air yards, 1.2 touchdowns, and 1.2 interceptions per game this season. He has a golden opportunity to bounce back against the Cardinals on the road in Week 15. Arizona's defense has allowed an average of 38.4 pass attempts, 28 completions, 335 passing yards, 2.4 touchdowns, 0.8 interceptions, and 26.4 fantasy points per game to top quarterback scorers over its last five. Mayfield's surrounded by enough offensive weapons to finish as a low-end QB1 this week. 

Start Derek Carr (8.9% ST)

Carr completed 25 of 34 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders' loss to the Titans. His performance was underwhelming as the entire team was booed on their home field near the end of the game as Oakland was throttled by Tennessee. Carr's performance was disappointing in a game where the Raiders desperately needed an offensive spark. Oakland's defense gave up an astonishing 375 yards in the first half and 552 in the game. Carr finished as a QB1 from a fantasy perspective and has a nice matchup against the Jaguars this week for those in deeper formats. Jacksonville's defense has allowed an average of 25 pass attempts, 17.6 completions, 238 passing yards, 1.6 touchdowns, and 0.2 interceptions per game to top quarterback scorers over its last five. Carr can be viewed as a low-end QB1.       

Start Mitchell Trubisky (5.6% ST)

Trubisky is coming off of a career game. He completed 23 of 31 passes for 244 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception in the Bears' win over the Cowboys. Trubisky also rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown. In the last five games, he's thrown for 1,320 yards and 13 touchdowns with a 99.7 passer rating. Trubisky can be viewed as a high-end QB2 against the Packers this week. Green Bay's defense has allowed an average of 31 pass attempts, 20 completions, 253 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, and 15 fantasy points per game to top quarterback scorers over its last five. Three of those five games were against Philip Rivers, Daniel Jones, and Dwayne Haskins. Kyle Allen (18.5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (20.7) had very productive games against the Packers defense. 

Start Ryan Fitzpatrick (7.0% ST)

Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 37 passes for 245 yards and an interception in the Dolphins loss the Jets. He also had eight carries for 65 yards. Fitzpatrick struggled against New York after losing wide receivers DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson to concussions in the game. He'll remain the starter in Week 15 as the Dolphins face the Giants on the road. New York's defense has allowed an average of 38 pass attempts, 24 completions, 267 passing yards, 2.2 touchdowns, 0.6 interceptions, and 25 fantasy points per game to top quarterback scorers over its last five. Fitzpatrick can be viewed as a high-end QB2 with upside. Success or failure for him will be dependent on the availability of Parker and Wilson.   

Sit Tom Brady (45.5% ST)

Brady completed 19 of 36 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the Patriots' loss to the Chiefs. He's only averaged 241 passing yards per game over his last eight. Brady has also been dealing with an elbow injury for weeks. Has Father Time finally caught up with the future Hall of Fame quarterback? It's not recommended to risk starting Brady against the Bengals in a plus matchup with the other viable streaming options available for Week 15. 

RUNNING BACKS

Start Raheem Mostert (3.1% ST)

Mostert rushed 10 times for 69 yards and a touchdown while catching all two of his targets for 40 yards and a second touchdown in the 49ers win over the Saints. He's never started a game in his NFL career, but Mostert is currently leading San Francisco in rushing with 608 yards and four touchdowns on 102 rushing attempts. He played 40 of the 49ers 67 offensive snaps against the Saints while Tevin Coleman (11) and Matt Breida (12) were barely on the field. Mostert is leaving the 49ers coaching staff with no choice but to play him and head coach Kyle Shanahan's comments suggest they'll continue to feed him as long as the production is there. He's averaging 3.6 total fantasy points per game more than expected this season which leads the 49ers backfield. Mostert can be viewed as a high-end RB2 against the Falcons. Atlanta's defense has allowed a per game average of 17.8 touches, 110.2 total yards, 0.2 touchdowns, and 19.6 PPR fantasy points per game to top running back scorers over its last five. 

Start Kareem Hunt (51.6% ST)

Hunt has averaged 14.2 PPR fantasy points per game since returning in Week 10 and continues to be a start recommendation for those familiar with this column. He's averaging 12.4 opportunities per game including 5.6 targets. Hunt faces a Cardinals defense in Week 15 that has allowed an average of 14 touches, 85.2 total yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 14.7 PPR fantasy points per game to top running back scorers over its last five. Hunt can be viewed as an RB2 against Arizona this week. He's averaged 2.4 fantasy points per game more than expected this season. 

Start Adrian Peterson (7.9% ST)

Adrian Peterson.jpgPeterson rushed 20 times for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. The Redskins lean heavily on Peterson once Derrius Guice was sidelined with an MCL sprain in the first half. Interim head coach Bill Callahan stubbornly embraces the old school mantra of establishing the run. Peterson's averaged 17 opportunities per game over Washington's last eight games. He'll be in for another heavy workload against the Eagles in Week 15. Philadelphia's defense has allowed an average of 14.8 touches, 71.2 total yards, 0.8 touchdowns, and 15.5 PPR fantasy points per game to top running back scorers over its last five. Peterson can be viewed as a low-end RB2 this week.    

Start David Montgomery (48.7% ST)

Montgomery rushed 20 times for 86 yards in the Bears' win over the Cowboys. He's averaged 17.3 opportunities per game this season with negative fantasy points over expectation. Montgomery does have a favorable matchup in Week 15 against the Packers defense. Green Bay has allowed an average of 19.6 touches, 101.6 total yards, one touchdown, and 18.7 PPR fantasy points per game to top running back scorers over its last five. Montgomery can be viewed as an RB2 with upside this week.  

Start Patrick Laird (2.9% ST)

Laird rushed 15 times for 48 yards while catching four of five targets for 38 yards in the Dolphins loss to the Jets. He has little competition for touches with positive total fantasy points over expectation. Laird can be viewed as an RB3 against the Giants this week in deeper formats. New York's defense has allowed an average of 17.6 touches, 91.2 total yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 15.7 PPR fantasy points per game to top running back scorers over its last five.  

Sit Joe Mixon (74.1% ST)

Mixon rushed 23 times for 146 yards and one touchdown in the Bengals' loss to the Browns. He also caught three of four targets for 40 yards. Mixon has averaged 17.4 PPR fantasy points per game over his last four. The Patriots defense has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs this season. New England's defense has loosened up in recent weeks, but the Bengals offense hasn't been an offensive juggernaut in 2019. 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Start Darius Slayton (13.5% ST)

It was Slayton and not Sterling Shepard who was quarterback Eli Manning's go-to receiver against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. The rookie caught five of eight targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Slayton's averaged 8.5 targets per game over his last four with three two-touchdown games over his last six. Slayton can be viewed as a WR3 at home against the Dolphins. Miami's defense has allowed an average of 11.6 targets, 7.4 receptions, 114 receiving yards, 1.2 touchdowns, and 26 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five. 

Start Cole Beasley (10.7% ST)

Beasley caught four of seven targets for 29 yards and a touchdown in the Bills loss to the Ravens last week. Were you aware that he has scored a touchdown in six of his last eight games? Beasley has averaged 13.7 PPR fantasy points per game over the Bills' last eight games. He has a favorable matchup as a slot receiver against the Steelers defense. Pittsburgh's defense has allowed an average of 9.4 targets, six receptions, 80 receiving yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 16.5 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five. This includes games against Christian Kirk, Jarvis Landry, and Tyler Boyd who all run a high percentage of their pass routes lined up in the slot. Beasley can be viewed as a high-end WR3 this week.   

Start Michael Gallup (34% ST)

Gallup has caught six of 10 targets for 109 yards in the Cowboys loss to the Bears. He's averaged 8.3 targets, five receptions, 82.3 receiving yards, 99.4 air yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game this season. Amari Cooper continues to struggle with a knee injury and will go head to head against cornerback Jalen Ramsey as the Cowboys face the Rams in Week 15. Los Angeles' defense has allowed an average of 8.2 targets, six receptions, 64.6 receiving yards, 0.6 touchdowns, and 16 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five. Prescott will have to lean heavily on Gallup at home against the Rams. He can be viewed as a mid-range WR2 in Week 15. 

Start Emmanuel Sanders (28% ST)

Sanders caught seven of nine targets for 157 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers win over the Saints. He also threw a 35-yard touchdown to Mostert. Sanders dealt with a knee injury and averaged 28.2 receiving yards per game in the four games preceding this. He can be viewed as a WR2 at home against the Falcons in Week 15. Atlanta's defense has allowed an average of 10.2 targets, 7.6 receptions, 112 receiving yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 21.1 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five.  

Start Deebo Samuels (17% ST)

Samuel caught five of eight targets for 76 yards against the Saints. He also had two rushing attempts for 33 rushing yards. Samuels has averaged 15 PPR fantasy points per game over his last five and can be viewed as an upside WR3 against the Falcons in a game with a 47.5 Vegas point total. 

Start Greg Ward (0% ST)

Ward caught four of nine targets for 34 yards in the Eagles win over the Giants. There is always opportunity in chaos as he was the last man standing for Philadelphia as Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside dealt with injuries. Ward finished with the second-most targets on the team behind Zach Ertz (13). NFL.com's Mike Garafolo reported that Jeffery is done for the season with a foot injury. Ward suddenly finds himself on the WR3 radar against the Redskins in Week 15. Washington's defense has allowed an average of 7.4 targets, 4.6 receptions, 65.8 receiving yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 13.52 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five. 

Start Justin Watson (0% ST)

Watson caught five of eight targets for 59 yards and one touchdown in the Buccaneers win over the Colts. Mike Evans is expected to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Breshad Perriman (65) played more snaps than Watson (43) and finished with 70 receiving yards and a touchdown. Perriman has negative receiving fantasy points over expectation on the opportunities he's been given this season. Watson is my preferred option for fantasy players in a wide receiver bind entering Week 15. He can be viewed as a WR3 against the Lions. Detroit's defense has allowed an average of 11.2 targets, seven receptions, 107.6 receiving yards, and 17.7 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five.  

Start Anthony Miller (4.1% ST)

Miller caught three of four targets for 42 yards and a touchdown in the Bears win over the Cowboys. He's averaged 9.2 targets and 78 receiving yards per game over his last four. Miller can be viewed as a WR3 against the Packers in Week 15. Green Bay's defense has allowed an average of 6.2 targets, 4.2 receptions, 75.6 receiving yards, 0.6 touchdowns, and 15.4 PPR fantasy points per game to top wide receiver scorers over its last five. Miller's upside will be even higher if Taylor Gabriel continues to miss time as he recovers from a concussion.  

Start A.J. Brown (12% ST)

Brown's established himself as the Titans No. 1 receiver and leads the team in multiple statistical categories including targets (61), receptions (39), receiving yards (779), air yards (734), and touchdowns (6). He can be viewed as an upside WR3 and has a plus matchup against the Texans.

Sit Amari Cooper (86.2% ST)

Cooper caught six of eight targets for 83 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys loss to the Bears. His knee injury continues to be a problem and a matchup against cornerback Ramsey in Week 15 against the Rams is less than ideal. 

TIGHT ENDS

Start David Njoku (6.7% ST)

Njoku caught one of three targets for four yards in the Browns' win over the Bengals. This was his first game back since breaking his wrist in Week 2. Njoku has a plus matchup against the Cardinals defense in Week 15. Arizona's defense has allowed an average of 5.8 targets, 4.4 receptions, 50 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and 15.4 PPR fantasy points per game. Njoku can be viewed as a TE1. 

Start O.J. Howard (23.5% ST)

Howard caught four of five targets for 73 yards in the Buccaneers win over the Colts. Evans' season-ending injury could open the door for him to see more targets against the Lions this week. Howard could also lose targets and snaps to Cameron Brate. He can be viewed as an upside TE2 against a Lions defense that the Buccaneers offense should eviscerate.

Start Noah Fant (23.5% ST)

Fant caught all four of his targets for 114 yards and one touchdown in the Broncos win over the Texans. His production has been up and down all season, but the matchup against a Chiefs defense that has done an excellent job defending wide receivers could allow Fant to go boom again in Week 15. Kansas City's defense has allowed an average of 6.2 targets, 4.2 receptions, 48.4 receiving yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 11.8 PPR fantasy points per game over its last five. 

Bringing It All Together

Making lineup decisions in fantasy football whether it's redraft, dynasty, or DFS is mind-numbing. It's important not to second guess yourself or make ungrounded last-minute changes. One good best practice is to set your lineup the night before your matchup begins. Breaking news should be the only thing that prompts you to make changes.

If you have additional questions please refer to our fantasy football rankings or better yet reach out to me on Twitter for an immediate response (@EricNMoody). 

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Eric Moody

Eric Moody is a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). His writing has been featured at FantasyPros, Gridiron Experts, RotoViz, and TwoQBs. He has a lifelong passion for the game and even played at the collegiate level as an offensive lineman. Eric also participated in Dan Hatman's Scouting Academy in order to learn the process of player evaluation at an NFL level. When Eric provides advice, he uses game film, analytics, and statistics to help you understand his perspective. He enjoys time with his family, Netflix, music, bass guitar, and coffee