By: Jamy Bechler @WinningDFS101
Start/Sit – 2018 Fantasy Football – Week 15
It’s the playoffs! Survive and advance, baby! Play your studs. Play the players with great matchups. There is no tomorrow if you lose. Do what you can to have a tomorrow (or next week, in this case). Try not to overthink it. You are playing head-to-head against one opponent this week. It doesn’t matter how good or bad they have been all year, this is a one-week season. You just have to beat that opponent. Unless you are a huge underdog this week, don’t get cute.
This article is to provide some additional information as you set your lineups this week. If you have a player that we list in the “sit” category, you shouldn’t automatically sit him because you might be replacing him with a much worse player. Think of Start/Sit rather in terms of “Confident/Cautious.” These are players that we seem to be getting a lot of questions about. We offer our take on whether you should take a confident or cautious approach to playing them this week.
In most cases, we don’t touch upon the obvious plays. We don’t list obvious plays so we can look like we are smart when the obvious plays do what obvious plays do. That doesn’t help you. We try to look at some of the plays that are questionable and give you insights on those.
Remember to check the news and injury reports, leading up to roster lock for the various game times. Nobody knows exactly what will happen from week to week in the NFL but use all the information and resources available to you to make the best decisions possible for your lineup. We believe in having a good process and good rationale. Good luck and have fun!
Start– Tom Brady @ Steelers
From a fantasy perspective, Brady has been underwhelming all season long. However, it seems that he (and the Patriots) offense might just have gotten their mojo back. This game is the highest total (by a large margin) on the weekend. He is not an automatic start because his name is Tom Brady but he also isn’t an automatic sit because he has burned you all season. He had 3 touchdowns last week after totaling only 4 touchdowns in the 5 games prior. Going to Pittsburgh is not a problem as Brady has done well there in the past and this year, opposing Quarterbacks are averaging nearly 22 fantasy points per game. The Steelers have allowed multiple touchdowns to opposing Quarterbacks in 4 of their last 5 games. I know that we can never count on Belichick and the Patriots offense from a fantasy perspective but this should be a high-scoring affair and the Patriots may be a little bit more motivated after last week’s embarrassing finish against the Dolphins. They might want to send a message and not mess around with trying to establish the run game.
Notables – Lamar Jackson vs. Bucs, Matt Ryan vs. Cardinals, Kirk Cousins vs. Dolphins
Sit – Aaron Rodgers @ Bears
FOMO. That is why you’ll play Aaron Rodgers this week. FOMO … the fear of missing out on that big game from Rodgers. I also have a fear of missing out …a fear of missing out on advancing to the championship game in my league. Do not play Rodgers because of his name. He has not played like Aaron Rodgers this year and with an interim coach, there is more question marks than when Mike McCarthy was there (is that possible?!?). If you have no other options that are appealing then you’ll fire up Rodgers but be cautious with that. In Rodgers’ last four road games, he has been a Top-10 Quarterback only once. The Bears are really good defensively and have probably circled this game on their schedule since Rodgers did Superman-like things in the opening game of the season to defeat them. The Bears are only averaging 13 fantasy points allowed to opposing Quarterbacks at home. Last week, the Packers won and yet Rodgers only threw for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns. Overall, Rodgers has had only two 20+ fantasy performances in his last 7 games (and those were barely in the 20’s). Be very cautious with Rodgers this week. He is risky.
Notables – Ryan Tannehill @ Vikings, Jameis Winston @ Ravens, Marcus Mariota @ Giants
Start – David Johnson @ Falcons
The coaching staff has really showed a complete incompetence of utilizing their talent this season when it comes to DJ. His overall performance has been disappointing for fantasy owners and it had nothing to do with him or his injury he was returning from. It was a hand injury. The Cardinals gave him a nice juicy contract extension in the off-season and then brought in a coaching staff that was ill-equipped to utilize him. There has been some glimmers of hope since Mike McCoy was fired (never should have been hired because his style and philosophy differs from the Cardinals personnel). This week, DJ gets to go against a Falcons defense that has struggled mightily against Running Backs this season, in particular pass-catching backs. The Falcons are giving up 7.4 receptions to Running Backs per game this season. The question remains to be seen if the Cardinals coaching staff can utilize his pass-catching abilities in this game. The Falcons are also giving up 5 yards per carry to Running Backs. Lately, he has been getting a workload that is more in line with a player of his talents as he has seen 22.8 touches per game. DJ only has two games all season of 20+fantasy points but this sets up as a great opportunity for him to get going but then again the Cardinals do stupid things like letting their rookie Running Back vulture two touchdowns from DJ in the same game. SMH! This is a bet on talent, bet on the matchup play this week. But, I do know that I wouldn’t want to have DJ on my bench this week in the playoffs against a bad Falcons run defense.
Notables – Gus Edwards vs. Bucs, Tevin Coleman vs. Cardinals, Chris Carson @ 49ers
Sit – Adrian Peterson @ Jaguars
Jacksonville is the most disappointing team in the NFL but they still have defensive talent and some of them might be still playing for pride. Going against a Redskins team that is full of injuries (especially at QB) might motivate them and get them more revved up for this game than normal. This could be a get-happy game for their defensive unit. If that is the case, then Peterson is going to have a hard time generating much (especially since he is not a strong pass-catcher). He has only had 2 double-digit fantasy performances in the last 6 games, neither of which topped 20. Going against one of the best run-defenses in the NFL playing alongside a 9th string QB (#Exaggeration) is not a good recipe for success.
Notables– Kenyon Drake @ Vikings, Josh Adams @ Rams, Mark Ingram @ Panthers
Start – Julian Edelman @ Steelers
If I like Tom Brady then I have to like his BFF, right?!? Seriously though, the Steelers have been absolutely atrocious defending slot receivers this season, giving up 123 slot yards per game and 14 slot targets per game (both worst in the NFL). Edelman is the slot receiver poster-child. In Edelman’s last 9 games, he has seen at least 8 targets in 7 of those games. Keenan Allen just went for 14-148-1 stat line against the Steelers. We know that Edelman is going to get targets in the middle of the field but he has also seen 10 targets inside the 10-yard line this season. In the 9 games he’s played since coming back from suspension, Edelman has had 8 double-digit fantasy games, topping 20+points twice.
Notables – Tyler Lockett @ 49ers, D.J. Moore vs. Saints, Tyler Boyd vs. Raiders
Sit – Kenny Golladay @ Bills
I am a huge Golladay fan but absolutely hate this Lions offense and his situation right now. Yes, he is about the only thing left for the Lions right now but that doesn’t mean he will produce, especially against a Bills defense that is actually pretty good. This season, the Bills have given up the 3rd fewest fantasy points to the Wide Receiver position. Not only is the Bills defense pretty good as a whole, but he should be shadowed most of the day by Tre’Davious White. “Babytron” is a great talent with a bright future but has only 10 catches for 145 yards in his last 3 games as the main option for the Lions.
Notables – Chris Godwin @ Ravens, Calvin Ridley vs. Cardinals, Golden Tate @ Rams
Start – Ian Thomas vs. Saints
This might be recency bias on my end because I watched his game last week and cursed the Panthers coaching staff all 11 times they targeted Thomas because I had CMC and every play should go to the all-world versatile McCaffrey. Anyway, I digress. Thomas caught 9 of his 11 targets for 77 yards. On paper,the Saints are good against Tight Ends but they just gave up two touchdowns to Cameron Brate last week. That says that there is a chink in their armor. They are vulnerable. My guess is that the Saints are going to do all they can to shut down CMC, which will leave Thomas as a nice outlet for Cam Newton (especially if his shoulder continues to bother him). Certainly, don’t play Thomas if you have one of the top Tight Ends but he is a nice option that could end up producing again this week. Overall, he has 16 targets in the last two games that Greg Olsen has missed.
Notables – Kyle Rudolph vs. Dolphins, Jared Cook @ Bengals, Vance McDonald vs. Patriots
Sit – Cameron Brate vs. Ravens
I have had a difficult time getting a read on Brate this season. He should be better than he is on a more consistent basis. But with that said, the guy has scored some touchdowns. He is very touchdown dependent, which can be scary. In the last 3 weeks, he has scored 3 touchdowns but has had only 8 catches during that time. In fact, last week’s 2 touchdown outburst were his only 2 catches and they amounted to 12 yards. If you can stomach this risk, then fire him up. The reality, though, is that even though he had 2 touchdowns, he still only had 15 fantasy points. That was only his 2nd double-figure fantasy performance in his last 9 games. He has yet to catch more than 3 balls in any game this year.
Notables – Jimmy Graham @ Bears, Gerald Everett vs. Eagles, C.J. Uzomah vs. Raiders
Unless you have one of the top defenses that are probably an automatic start each week, then you might want to consider streaming your defense each week with a team that has the best matchup. Remember, low scoring games is not the only factor for a good defense. You can’t predict fantasy defensive scoring, but you can predict opportunity. You typically want defenses that are aggressive and get pressure on the quarterback. This pressure can lead to turnovers. It is also a decent gamble to target defenses going against rookie or inexperienced quarterbacks. Playing at home is a plus. Finally, game flow matters. A game that will be slow with a lot of rushing attempts is not good for fantasy scoring. Also, it is possible for a defense and an opposing Quarterback to both put up good fantasy numbers in the same game. Here are three teams that you might want to consider streaming for this week, along with three teams you’ll want to be a little cautious with.
Start Notables – Titans DST @ Giants, Saints DST @ Panthers, Bills DST vs. Lions
Sit Notables – Steelers DST vs. Patriots, Colts DST vs. Cowboys, Dolphins DST @ Vikings
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About the Author-
Jamy Bechler is a fantasy contributor for CouchPotatoGM and FantasyPros. His DFS twitter is @WinningDFS101 and his website is FantasyFocusFootball.com. He once won a fantasy league despite drafting last, trading away Ezekiel Elliott and having Tyrod Taylor as his starting Quarterback. When he is not playing fantasy sports, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer,working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). You can also follow his personal twitter account @CoachBechler. Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.