It’s Week 15 of the NFL regular season but when it comes to fantasy it boils down to one simple question – Are you still alive? Many of your fellow fantasy footballers that stood shoulder to shoulder with you are gone now, cast off to the land of regrets and sadness for the next eight months until August brings a new slate.
Now it’s time to get down to business. There are three regular-season games left, but in the fantasy playoffs, it’s do or die. You must win this week. So you better make the right decisions, like who to start in place of Carson Wentz.
Good Calls for Week 14...
Start Jimmy Garoppolo (15.06 fantasy points) – If you stream QBs, this is the guy you wanted last week and the guy you want moving forward.
Sit Kirk Cousins (8.84 FP) – Cousins is a gamer, but going up against a Chargers defense that might be the best in the league, that was trouble.
Bad Calls for Week 14...
I warned you against starting Ben Roethlisberger (28.74 FP) because it was a matchup (vs. Baltimore) in which Big Ben usually struggles. Good thing you didn’t listen.
START THESE QBs...
Kirk Cousins, WAS (vs. ARI)
Cousins has seen his fantasy points decrease in each of his last four games, but he should reverse his fortunes in this week's matchup against the Cardinals. The Cardinals have struggled to stop quarterbacks on the road, allowing 13 total touchdowns and an average of 18.8 fantasy points per game to the position and overall are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs on the year.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (vs. TEN)
San Francisco is 2-0 since Garoppolo became the starting quarterback. The newest 49er has shown a command of the playbook, accurate passing, and confidence. All he needs to do now is throw touchdowns. There are few better teams to try that against than the Titans, especially at home.
Nick Foles, PHI (at NYG)
This is for all you quarterback streamers out there. Foles can be a quality quarterback again, just like Case Keenum and Jared Goff came back to life after escaping Jeff Fisher’s nightmare. Foles’ first test is against a familiar opponent in the Giants who are playing out the string of a lost season and have given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks on the year.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Case Keenum, MIN (vs. CIN)
He had a tough, tough matchup in Carolina against the Panthers and still came out relatively unscathed by throwing for 280 yards, two touchdowns, albeit with two interceptions. At this point, he’s one of the safest options in fantasy, and pretty much a guaranteed top-10 QB. In fact, he’s among the top five over the last month. Don’t worry about rolling him out against a Bengals defense that’s in tatters and made the Bears look like a real-life football team last week.
SIT THESE QBs...
Jameis Winston, TB (vs. ATL, Mon.)
Winston is still not 100 percent as the Buccaneers wrap up a lost season. There are rumors of a rift between the quarterback and head coach. Winston’s receivers are healthy, but several are suffering through sub-par seasons, too. Winston and his teammates are reduced to playing spoilers the rest of the year, and it starts with the rival Falcons. Something is not right in Tampa. Winston has a high ceiling, but his floor is too risky to start him in a must-win fantasy playoff matchup.
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. DAL)
Over the past two weeks, changes in the Cowboys’ secondary have proven effective at shutting down Kirk Cousins and Eli Manning. Meanwhile, Carr couldn’t get going against one of the league’s worse pass defenses last week. Don’t expect him to have a good Week 15, either.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF (vs. MIA)
Let’s see. We have a quarterback playing injured, without his top two receivers, against a defense that just shut down Tom Brady and believes they are playoff contenders, in less-than-ideal conditions (windy, snow showers in the forecast). Yeah, you should sit that guy. In case you’re wondering, despite his performance Monday night, Jay Cutler takes a seat in the cold and wind, too.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Marcus Mariota, TEN (at SF)
Mariota, has been one of the most disappointing fantasy players in 2017. His passer rating in Week 14 was just 39.6 (not a typo) and his overall rating (76.9) places him 25th out of 27 passers with at least 300 attempts. He has produced above-average adjusted net yards per pass — an improved version of passer rating which gives a bonus for touchdowns and penalties for interceptions and sacks — just five times this season.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
Baltimore's defense was shredded by the Steelers on Sunday night and Cleveland's offense looks positively frisky with Josh Gordon back, but don't let that worry you too much. Baltimore can still exploit bad matchups even without Jimmy Smith, and the Browns are still allowing multiple sacks and multiple takeaways virtually every week.
Philadelphia Eagles (at NYG)
Carson Wentz's season-ending injury could affect Philadelphia's DST, as opposing teams could have better starting field position and games could be closer, leading to fewer passes and chances for sacks/INTs. Still, you have to like the Eagles (No. 3 DST) against the Giants, who have averaged 10.8 points per game over the past four weeks and have turned it over six times in that span.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. NE)
The Steelers DST has been one of the most consistent units this season, but with an upcoming matchup against Tom Brady and the Patriots, you’d be better off starting a different one. Home DSTs that have faced New England have averaged a mere two fantasy points per game, the second fewest in the league. Plus this week we’ll be seeing Angry Tom Brady. Not good for the Steelers defense.
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. LAC, Sat.)
The Chiefs DST came alive last week, scoring 10 fantasy points in the win over the Raiders, but don't chase the points against the Chargers. One DST has ranked better than 26th in points against Los Angeles over the last four weeks, and that was due to a Kellen Clemens pick-six against the Redskins when Philip Rivers was on the bench in what was a blowout.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.
(Top photo courtesy of www.philadelphiaeagles.com)