The fantasy playoffs have begun in many leagues and this is where the cream rises to the top. This is where putting a player in your starting lineup can make a difference, just as much as leaving a player on your bench. Take a read of this article and we hope to give you a good idea on who should be starting in week 15 and who should be riding the pine.
Fantasy Football Week 15 Starts, Sits, And Sleepers
Start – Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Atlanta Falcons
What a game last week between the Saints and the 49ers! While the defense didn’t show up for either team, the offenses sure did. It’s especially a good sign for Garoppolo, as he had to bail out the defense that normally is the one keeping San Francisco in contests. This game solidified Garoppolo as the franchise quarterback and proved a lot of doubters wrong that he couldn’t win a game putting the offense on his shoulders.
Looking at it from a fantasy perspective, Garoppolo has been a different quarterback since the acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders from Denver. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions compared to before he had Sanders, he threw for seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Garoppolo is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league and also in fantasy football.
Coming into this home game against the Falcons, expect Kyle Shanahan to bring out all the stops against his former team to secure the win and a playoff spot. This means a good offensive showing from Garoppolo and the rest of the 49ers offense.
Another start option to consider: Carson Wentz vs. Washington Redskins
Sit – Dak Prescott vs. Los Angeles Rams
Prescott comes into week 15 with injuries to both his hands. Against the Bears on Thursday Night Football, he ended up suffering from a sprained left hand and a sprained finger on his throwing hand. He is practicing, but it makes you wonder if he can be as effective with lingering injuries to both hands.
Besides coming into this weekend’s game with injuries, the Cowboys are facing a streaking Rams team that has suddenly remembered they were a Super Bowl team last year. Since getting blown out by the Ravens in prime time, the Rams have only allowed 19 points across the last two weeks and only 326 total passing yards. This game won’t be easy for Prescott and the Cowboys, even with them playing at home. Sit Prescott this week if you want to avoid an early exit from the fantasy playoffs.
Another sit option to consider: Philip Rivers vs. Minnesota Vikings
*Sleeper Start* – David Blough vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the first start of his young NFL career, Blough almost led the Lions to a Thanksgiving win over the Bears. He unloaded for 280 and two passing touchdowns on the highly-regarded Bears defense. Now he did come crashing back to Earth against the Vikings, but Detroit was still willing to air it out as he threw the ball 40 times. Playing in his third game now, Blough will have a great match-up against the Buccaneers.
While the Buccaneers boast one of the best rushing defenses, their pass defense is one of the worst. So while Bo Scarbrough will not have an easy time getting it going, the Lions might rely more on Blough to move the ball down the field and into the endzone. If you need a streaming option in an important playoff week for most fantasy leagues, Blough could surprise you with solid fantasy numbers.
Another sleeper option to consider: Gardner Minshew vs. Oakland Raiders
Start – James White vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Julian Edelman is the clear leader in targets and receptions for the New England Patriots. While he may be a distant second, White is the next most-targeted Patriots players. This offense is not as dynamic as in previous years, but all that can get thrown out the window when you play against Cincinnati. Also, coming into this week’s game, Edelman has been limited in practice with both a knee injury and a shoulder injury. Chances are that he will play against the Bengals this week, but he might not play the entire game.
With that said, it would be a wise move to insert White into your starting roster. Expect the passing game to flow through White a little more, even if Edelman is able to play. White was instrumental in the comeback efforts for the Patriots against the Houston Texans. He was more limited against the Chiefs last week, but expect him to bounce-back against Cincinnati. It seems obvious, but still worth stating that White should be in all starting rosters this week.
Another starting option to consider: Chris Carson vs. Carolina Panthers
Sit – Devonta Freeman vs. San Francisco 49ers
Yes, no defenses played well against each other when the Saints and 49ers battled last week. That all doesn’t matter as the 49ers now return home to face the Falcons to secure a playoff spot for the first time in six years. Freeman has been a fantasy disappointment this year. With the thought of Tevin Coleman leaving in free agency, this was supposed to lead to an outburst of production with him being the lead back. Instead, he has only rushed for 506 yards and one touchdown all year. This could be the fact that the offense is not as potent as it once was, but it’s more of Freeman not finding the open running lanes and being that bruising back he was in previous seasons. Hampered with a knee injury as well, this week would not be a good week to have Freeman in your starting lineup.
Another sit option to consider: James Conner vs. Buffalo Bills
*Sleeper Start* – Raheem Mostert vs. Atlanta Falcons
In arguably the toughest three-game stretch in NFL history, the 49ers were able to escape winning two games against a combination of the Packers, Ravens, and Saints. Even in the loss against the Ravens, they had chances to win but ultimately ended up losing on a time-expiring field goal. Through this stretch, Mostert established himself as a reliable running back in the offense. Part of the reason he got more touches was an injury to Matt Breida, but regardless, the guy can ball.
Undrafted out of Purdue, Mostert is running well in Shanahan’s offense and has earned more touches every week. Shanahan has now gone on record saying that Mostert has earned the right to keep getting more touches going forward. In the past three weeks, he has 330 total yards and four total touchdowns. The guy is on the rise and it would be wise to insert him into your starting roster going forward. While Coleman will probably have a great game as well, going against his former team, Mostert could end up doing more damage.
Another sleeper option to consider: Boston Scott vs. Washington Redskins
Start – Deebo Samuel vs. Atlanta Falcons
Similar to Garoppolo seeing a meteoric rise to his production level, Samuel has also seen his numbers increase since the trade for Sanders happened. Samuel was highly-touted coming out of South Carolina and as a rookie, and he has been living up to his high reviews. Against the Saints, he did some damage in the line of five receptions for 76 yards and also ran it twice for 33 yards. He is a sure-handed receiver and a dynamic runner with the ball in his hands.
Playing the Falcons this week, expect Samuel to be featured more and this offense to put on a clinic. If Samuel is not in your starting roster, consider inserting him this week. This is one of the best match-ups he has for the rest of the season and he could be a serious difference-maker in the playoffs for many fantasy teams.
Alternate start option to consider: A.J. Brown vs. Houston Texans
Sit – Tyler Boyd vs. New England Patriots
Don’t expect garbage points in this one. The Patriots are allowing the least amount of passing touchdowns and have forced the most interceptions. No need to overthink this; leave Boyd on the bench.
Alternate sit options to consider: Tyrell Williams vs. Minnesota Vikings
*Sleeper Start* – D.K. Metcalf vs. Carolina Panthers
Over the last five weeks, Metcalf has averaged at least five receptions and at least 75 receiving yards. We all thought that Tyler Lockett was going to be the main guy in Seattle for Russell Wilson to throw to. While he is the number one option, it seems that Wilson is looking in Metcalf’s direction more lately. Metcalf is a rare blend of strength and speed and is slowly getting better at developing his route running and route tree.
Carolina’s defense has been on a bit of a slide lately and anticipate the Seahawks to continue that trend. Also, two key defensive linemen may not play for the Panthers (Mario Addison and Gerald McCoy), which will give Wilson time to find Metcalf for key conversions.
Lockett’s days as the number one passing threat may be coming to an end as Metcalf is surging in an upward trajectory. Start Metcalf this week and he could be a surprise playmaker that could lead your team to a playoff victory.
Another sleeper option to consider: Darius Slayton vs. Miami Dolphins
Start – O.J. Howard vs. Detroit Lions
Mike Evans being out for the rest of the season will affect the offense for sure. The goal here is that everyone else can step up in his place, including Howard. Over his last two games, Howard is getting more targets and he has totaled nine receptions and 134 receiving yards. Clearly, Jameis Winston wants to start throwing in his direction and the loss of Evans will make Howard more valuable for fantasy owners. With defenses now putting all their attention on Chris Godwin, expect Howard to find open passing lanes and he should be able to get into a solid rhythm to finish the season.
Coming into this weekend’s game against the Lions, Howard should have no trouble producing as he faces the 30th ranked pass defense. While Howard was not reliable all year, his finish to the season may make him a great addition to any fantasy playoff roster.
Another start option to consider: Dallas Goedert vs. Washington Redskins
Sit – Jimmy Graham vs. Chicago Bears
Graham is just not the player that he used to be. Gone are the days where he would be a 100-yard receiver and set the defense ablaze with his premier skills. The former basketball player from The U is now fading fast into the sunset. The last time Graham played the Bears, he did find the endzone for the game’s only touchdown. In this week’s game, those sorts of expectations are not very realistic and he most likely will be shut-out of the stat sheet.
Aaron Rodgers is looking elsewhere to move the ball down the field and it wouldn’t be surprising if Graham goes the rest of the season without scoring again. Not that you were considering starting Graham this week, but this just reaffirms that he should be left off your playoff roster.
Another sit option to consider: Vance McDonald vs. Buffalo Bills
*Sleeper Start* – Ian Thomas vs. Seattle Seahawks
Greg Olsen is going to miss another game. In his place, Thomas was able to put up some good numbers against the Atlanta Falcons. He was targeted 10 times and he caught five of them for a total of 57 receiving yards and also one trip to the endzone. Thomas was regarded as a possible breakout star with all the injuries Olsen keeps suffering. Unfortunately, Thomas once again never got enough snaps in the season to warrant that breakout season.
With the season drawing to a close, it wouldn’t be that surprising if they decide to look to the future and play Thomas more over Olsen, even if Olsen is healthy. This means that Thomas’ value increases and it starts with this week’s game against the Seahawks that he proves he can be a worthy starter.
The Seahawks have given up the second-most receptions and receiving yards to tight ends all year. Thomas should be able to find some open field and get into the endzone for a second-straight week, which makes him a sneaky pick up for your fantasy playoff roster.
Another sleeper option to consider: Mike Gesicki vs. New York Giants
Start – New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
This is the last time that the 49ers and Saints game will be brought up. We all know that it was a high-scoring affair with no defense played at all. The Saints will look to rebound from that performance and take it all out on the Colts. Looking at a recent trend after the bye week, New Orleans’ defense has one bad week, followed by a good week. Clearly the game last weekend was a bad week so that should tell us that this week they are in for an adjustment and should have no trouble limiting the Colts from producing on offense.
Against the Falcons after the bye week, the New Orleans defense gave up 26 points and only forced one turnover. The next week, they allowed only 17 points and forced four turnovers. While we may not be entitled to this pattern for sure happening, there is a good case that it sides in favor of starting the Saints defense this week. Start the Saints defense because they are not going to surrender 48 points in back-to-back weeks.
Another start option to consider: San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Sit – Cleveland Browns vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Browns overall are not the team that has lived up to the hype it received in the preseason. Playing the Cincinnati Bengals last week, the Browns surrendered 27 points, 451 total yards, and only forced one turnover. Coming into a game against the Cardinals this week, Kyler Murray should have a lot easier time shredding the Browns defense, compared to Andy Dalton.
The Browns are without Myles Garrett due to his suspension and they haven’t been able to generate good pressure without his presence. Murray should be able to roam around freely and find open receivers to get the Cardinals in position to score often. Sit the Cleveland defense because this game may turn out to be a shootout between the former teammates and Heisman Trophy winners in Murray and Baker Mayfield.
While one defensive turnover may win the game, both defenses will have a hard time stopping the opponent’s offense. Sit the Browns defense and look elsewhere for a fantasy starting defense.
Another sit option to consider: Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Rams
*Sleeper Start* – New York Giants
The Giants are not the best defense available, but they are going into a good match-up against the Dolphins. Playing the Eagles last week, the Giants were able to generate three sacks and forced one turnover. They also were able to prevent Philadelphia from converting on third downs as they only converted nine of them out of 21.
Playing Miami this week, the Giants should be in a good position to prevent the Dolphins from getting into a rhythm on offense. Seeing as how Miami has no running attack, New York should be able to sit back and worry about stopping Ryan Fitzpatrick from beating them. A deep sleeper that you might not need if you’re in the playoffs, but could be a good play in DFS rosters for sure.
Another sleeper option to consider: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins