By Week 15, fantasy owners have a good idea of who to start. The matchups are always a factor, and fantasy owners should take that into account. By this point of the season, defenses have shown what positions they can defend well and which they struggle against. While injuries are always key, fantasy owners should try to keep in mind which players are the next up and which team they are facing.
Fantasy owners should also be aware that there are two Saturday games this week. Be sure lineups are set early and any injury questions are answered as soon as possible. For most leagues, Week 15 is the semifinals, meaning a chance at a fantasy championship is on the line. After a pretty tough Week 14, fantasy owners are going to need all the breaks they can find to survive and advance.
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. You also can see how my Week 12 calls turned out at the bottom.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carr faces the Cincinnati Bengals, who allow the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. While he has had a very up-and-down season, he’s had eight touchdowns in the past four games. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 5. While it may be difficult to trust Carr in the fantasy semifinals, the success he’s had in the past few weeks and the matchup all point to him exceeding his No. 20 ranking.
Doug Martin, RB, Oakland Raiders
Not only is Cincinnati allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks, but they are also allowing the most fantasy points to running backs as well. While it’s going to be hard to start Martin, keep in mind he has scored a touchdown in the past three weeks. The Bengals allow more fantasy points to running backs on the ground (vs. through the air), which is where Martin operates (Jalen Richard handles more of the passing downs work). Martin is ranked No. 28 but he should creep into the RB2 tier.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens
For some reason, the Ravens like Dixon and want to use him over Gus Edwards (sorry, Edwards owners). The matchup this week is a good one, as the Buccaneers allow the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Dixon has only had eight carries in the past two games, but he did score a touchdown. He also should be involved in the passing game. Trying to figure out which Ravens running back to start is going to be a headache for fantasy owners, but Dixon is the best bet for the most fantasy points out of the group. He’s ranked No. 33 but should finish higher than that.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett has filled in nicely while Doug Baldwin has been in and out of the lineup. While Russell Wilson had a terrible outing in Week 14, he should bounce back on Sunday. The immediate beneficiary will the Lockett. The Seahawks face the San Francisco 49ers, who allow the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. When these two teams faced each other in Week 13, Lockett had a touchdown, Baldwin had a touchdown and Jaron Brown had two. Look for the Seahawks to exploit this pass defense again, and Lockett should finish higher than his No. 17 ranking.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
With Jordan Reed injured and unlikely to play, Davis would be the next man up. Unfortunately, with Josh Johnson at quarterback, Davis' fantasy upside is capped. He’s ranked No. 20, but he should finish higher than that. The Washington passing game is in desperate need of pass catchers, and that’s where Davis steps in. He had four receptions for 31 yards in Week 14 with Reed out. He may not find the end zone, but Davis is a desperation fill-in at tight end.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
The good news for Ryan owners is that he is at home for Week 15. He also played very well against a tough Green Bay defense. However, the Arizona Cardinals are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. He had three touchdowns in Week 14, but one was a garbage-time touchdown (yes, all touchdowns count for fantasy). Ryan is ranked No. 13, but he may fall out of QB1 territory.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Even though Matt Breida is questionable, Wilson may still have a role in the Week 15 matchup against the Seahawks. Breida is subject to an in-game setback or the possibility of limited snaps. However, Wilson should not finish as high as his No. 19 ranking. When the 49ers faced the Seahawks in Week 13, Wilson had 15 carries for 61 yards. However, he also added eight receptions for 73 yards. In the other two games he has played this season (including Week 14, where Breida was out), Wilson only had two receptions. He’s a risky start if Breida plays.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
In the past two weeks, Golladay has totaled five receptions for 55 yards. In Week 14, he had five yards. Granted, he had a tough matchup, but this week's is no cakewalk. The Lions face the Buffalo Bills, who allow the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. They also allow the fewest points to quarterbacks, which doesn’t bode well for Matthew Stafford either. Golladay is ranked No. 25, but he may fall out of the top 30.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Since A.J. Green has been injured, Boyd only had one good game (Week 12, when he had a 7/85/1 stat line). He has struggled with Green out and with Andy Dalton out as well. In Week 15, the Bengals face the Oakland Raiders. In Week 14, the Raiders did allow a huge game to JuJu Smith-Schuster, but held Antonio Brown to five receptions for 35 yards. Boyd is ranked No. 20, but he’s out of the WR2 range.
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
After Kittle’s almost-record-breaking Week 14 game, he’s ranked No. 4 for Week 15. However, the odds of him repeating are slim. The Seattle Seahawks have only allowed four tight ends to score touchdowns this season. When Kittle faced the Seahawks in Week 13, he had six receptions for 70 yards. A similar stat line is expected, but that would put him lower than No. 4.
Full Disclosure from Week 14
5 Up (1/5 correct)
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (Ranked: 19, Actual: 15)
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (Ranked: 25, Actual: 48)
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 34, Actual: 52)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (Ranked: 33, Actual: not in top 50)
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns (Ranked: 7, Actual: 22)
5 Down (3/4 correct)
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 10, Actual: 11)
Mark Ingram, RB, New York Saints (Ranked: 13, Actual: 22)
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Ranked: 23, Actual:18)
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 32, Actual: did not play)
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 10, Actual: 17)
— 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.