For fantasy owners still in the playoffs, this week is probably the fantasy semifinals. Most leagues have the championship in Week 16, so if you want to get there, you need to win now. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you are aware of the players that are injured, missing practice or out because of COVID-19. This time of year is tough for injuries as most players are dealing with something. However, the Friday practice reports are the most important, so keep an eye out for those. Also, keep in mind this week there are two games on Saturday, so be sure to set your lineups accordingly.
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.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Goff and the Rams face the Jets in Week 15, which is a good matchup. The danger, of course, is that the Rams get a lead by running the ball and then Goff isn't needed. However, the Rams have more of a passing offense and Goff should continue to throw the ball. Players like Cooper Kupp should fare well, as Goff may use him for short passes to just move the ball down the field. Goff is ranked No. 15 but may flirt with QB1 numbers this week.
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Fantasy owners of Ezekiel Elliott don't necessarily want to hear it, but Pollard is slowly getting more of a role in the Cowboys' offense. His touches have increased while Elliott's have decreased. Pollard is ranked No. 39 this week and Elliott is ranked No. 21. These two actually should be closer based on their usage and performance. In Week 14, Pollard had 13 touches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Elliott had 15 touches for 59 yards. Ahead of Week 15, Elliott has barely practiced. Expect his touches to go down and Pollard's to continue to go up.
David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
Johnson missed Week 14 because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a close contact to someone that tested positive. However, he is able to return and play this week, which is good because Duke Johnson was limited on Wednesday and then did not practice on Thursday. David Johnson had 10 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 when the Texans faced the Colts for the first time. If Duke Johnson is out or limited, David Johnson should pick up a few targets, which should boost him higher than his No. 40 ranking.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
On the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), Parker is No. 83, but Athlon's rankings bump him up to No. 53. This is likely because he suffered a hamstring injury during Week 14 and has been limited in practice this week. It seems that he will play, and he is the top wideout for the Dolphins. With both Mike Gesicki and Jakeem Grant also banged up, more targets may be headed Parker's way if he can play in Week 15. He's not a great fantasy option, but he should exceed his ranking.
Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
Fant missed Week 13 with an illness (non-COVID-19) and was active for Week 14. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he left the game early in the first quarter without recording a catch. It seems that he had a stomach/food poisoning issue, but he is now past that as he is no longer on the injury report. He was able to put in a full practice and should be good to go for Saturday's game against the Buffalo Bills. He's ranked as No. 14 but should be considered a TE1.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes has been one of the best quarterbacks in real life and in fantasy this season. He did have three interceptions in Week 14, however, which was more than he had for the entire beginning of the season. He also threw for 393 yards and two touchdowns. Mahomes faces the Saints in Week 15, which is a tough matchup for quarterbacks. The Saints haven't allowed an opposing quarterback to throw multiple touchdown passes since Nick Foles in Week 8. Mahomes is still a must-start QB1 but he may not reach his No. 5 ranking.
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants
Gallman is the No. 1 running back for the Giants, but that's not saying much. He did well in Week 13 against the Seahawks with Colt McCoy at quarterback, but he shouldn't find as much success in Week 15 against the Browns. Cleveland's done a decent job against opposing running backs, only allowing three to go over 100 yards this season. It is possible that Gallman gets into the end zone, but relying on that is tough. He's ranked No. 20, but he is a low RB1/high RB2 for this week.
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans
Even with Brandin Cooks out in Week 14, Coutee only managed three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown. It is possible that he is better as the No. 2 receiver rather than the No. 1, but it's going to be hard to trust him this week against the Colts. Fantasy owners may argue that when he last played the Colts two weeks ago, he had eight receptions for 141 yards. However, it's unlikely that the Colts are going to allow themselves to be beaten like that again. Coutee is ranked No. 27, but he is more of a hit-or-miss receiver at this point and is unlikely to play up to that ranking.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Detroit Lions
If Matthew Stafford was playing, Jones would likely exceed his No. 29 ranking. However, Stafford is currently questionable (probably more like doubtful, but that will be determined on Friday's official injury report) with a ribs injury. With Chase Daniel, the Lions' pass catchers all take a hit in value. Kenny Golladay will still be inactive, which helps Jones' cause, but T.J. Hockenson will likely steal most of the targets as it's easier to throw short passes to the tight end. Jones had four receptions for 48 yards in Week 14 and a similar stat line should be expected in Week 15.
Jordan Reed, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Since the bye week, Reed hasn't had more than three receptions in a game. He has one touchdown in that span, but he doesn't have more than 35 yards in any game. In two games, he has less than 20 yards. However, he's ranked No. 12 for Week 15. The 49ers face the Cowboys, but the issue for Reed is the lack of targets (and the lack of accurate targets). Ross Dwelley is still in the picture as well, and having two tight ends brings down each other's value.
Full Disclosure from Week 14
5 Up (2/5 correct)
Mike Glennon, QB, Jaguars (Ranked: 31, Actual: 33)
J.D. McKissic, RB, Washington (Ranked: Team 37, Actual: 23)
Todd Gurley, RB, Falcons (Ranked: 39, Actual: 48)
Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals (Ranked: 45, Actual: 43)
Jordan Akins, TE, Texans (Ranked: 19, Actual: 29)
5 Down (5/5 Correct)
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (Ranked: 7, Actual: 13)
Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers (Ranked: 10, Actual: 30)
Zack Moss, RB, Bills (Ranked: 33, Actual: 56)
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers (Ranked: 23, Actual: Outside the top 50, left injured)
Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles (Ranked: 9, Actual: 19)
— 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.