Welcome to the fantasy playoffs. Now that we’re here… good luck if you’re able to put together a healthy team. Between injuries and seemingly half the league on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, it's going to be a rough playoff week.
Fantasy managers need to be especially diligent about keeping an eye on the ever-changing list of players that are on the list, especially those that are being ruled out. If you have a player on the Browns, Rams, or Washington in particular be wary. Other teams (Bears, Seahawks, Dolphins) also have been adding key fantasy players to the list. At this point, the up/down designation may simply come down to who is healthy (and eligible) enough to play.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
While it is certainly true that Wilson has struggled since the bye week (he doesn’t have a game with 300 yards, he had back-to-back games with zero touchdowns and he has three interceptions). However, he also has six touchdowns. He’s been able to find pass catchers and that should continue into Week 15. He looks to be without Tyler Lockett (COVID-19), but he should still fare better than his No. 16 rank. The Rams are a tough defense, but they are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that has depleted their defensive depth chart.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Elliott has surprisingly put up decent fantasy numbers this season, despite not looking like he is an RB1. He’s ranked No. 24 for Week 15 which seems a bit low. It’s not clear if Tony Pollard will return from injury, but either way, Elliott is the No. 1 running back. In the past two weeks, Elliott has only rushed for 45 yards in each game. In the past, he has made up the difference with receptions and receiving yards, but it has been tough to trust him. The Giants, the Cowboys' Week 15 opponent, allow the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, so Zeke should be able to post decent numbers, as long as he gets the touches.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Samuel is listed as a wide receiver, however, he has played plenty of snaps as a running back (see: Cordarrelle Patterson). In the past three games he’s played, he has just one reception in each. But also has 79, 66, and 37 rushing yards in those games. With those rushing totals, he’s scored a touchdown in each game (two in one game). He has a rushing touchdown in each of the past four games. With the running backs in San Francisco injured (or ineffective), look for Samuel to continue in that hybrid role. He’s ranked No. 15, but he should exceed that in Week 15.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
The Dolphins had a bye in Week 14, prior to that, Parker caught all five of his targets for 62 yards. Parker has been out with injuries for most of the season, but when he’s played, he’s been effective. He has played in six games and the five targets are actually his fewest this year. He has one touchdown and no game with fewer than 42 yards. With Jaylen Waddle likely out (COVID-19), Parker has to step up against the Jets. He should fare better than No. 32 this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles
While the Washington Football Team has struggled a bit when it comes to throwing the ball, this is a great matchup for Seals-Jones. The Eagles are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. They’ve allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the past five weeks. It seems like it should be Seals-Jones’ turn to get into the end zone. He only has two touchdowns this season, but this should be the week for him to exceed his No. 18 ranking with a score.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers
Don’t get me wrong: assuming Allen is active, you’re starting him. However, ranking him at No. 4 seems a bit high. Allen is dealing with a foot sprain that he suffered in Week 14. While it doesn’t seem like something that will keep him out on Sunday, it may limit his rushing. Allen ran for 109 yards and a touchdown in Week 14. Odds are that’s not going to happen this week. He faces the Carolina Panthers, who allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The team is fairly healthy, so look for Allen to avoid putting a lot of pressure on the foot by running, which will lower his fantasy production.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Jones missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday this week with a knee injury (although “illness” was added to his injury designation on Thursday). Jones is ranked No. 11, mostly because if he’s in the game, he’s going to get the goal-line work. In Week 14, AJ Dillon did the “hard work” getting the ball into the red zone, and then Jones came in at the goal line to score – twice. Jones only had five carries for 35 yards compared to 15 for 71 for Dillon. Look for the team to lean more on Dillon in Week 15 against the Ravens.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (SNF)
Fournette has had a great season, but Week 15 should be tough for him. He’s ranked No. 5 but faces the Saints. New Orleans allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Since their Week 6 bye, the Saints have only allowed one rushing touchdown to an opposing running back. Add to this that Fournette missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury. He didn’t appear to miss time during Week 14, but this is concerning for fantasy managers and enough to question his RB1 status.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills
Facing the Bills, who allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, Moore is going to be tough to trust this week. He’s ranked No. 25, but he’s also dealing with a hamstring injury. He’s missed practice time, but all signs point to him playing. Cam Newton will likely be back at quarterback, which isn’t great for Moore (although, to be fair, P.J. Walker isn’t much better). Moore is the best pass catcher that the Panthers have, but this is going to be a tough game for him.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Schultz is ranked No. 6, but he is back to contending for targets with CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. When all three wide receivers are healthy and active, it’s a lot harder for Schultz to put up a big game. In Week 14, he had one reception for four yards on three targets. That’s a far cry from his games with eight, seven, five targets the three weeks prior. While it is possible he finds the end zone, it’s hard to bank on that, even against the Giants.
Full Disclosure from Week 14
5 Up (2/5 correct)
- Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team (Ranked: 15, Actual: 27)
- Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 25, Actual: 33)
- Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 21, Actual: 4)
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Tennessee Titans (Ranked: 44, Actual:
- Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns (Ranked: 20, Actual: 5)
5 Down (1/4 correct)
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (Ranked: 4, Actual: 10)
- Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans (Ranked: 30, Actual: 24)
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (Ranked: 16, Actual: 11)
- Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 10, Actual: 7)
- T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 7, Actual: DNP)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.