Find out why you might want to sit Rodgers and Cam Newton this week
It’s Week 15 of the fantasy football season and if you are one of the teams still in the hunt for a championship you don't need me to tell you what's at stake. There is no next week unless you win, which means you better make the right decisions.
At quarterback that means can you trust guys like Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton this week? Both are facing pretty good defenses with the former playing on the road while the latter is not 100 percent health-wise. And what about defense/special teams (DSTs)? Are there any matchups to exploit or steer clear from?
Before we get into the Week 15 start/sit advice let's see how the Week 14 suggestions did.
Good Calls for Week 14...
Start Lamar Jackson (18.98 fantasy points) – Jackson continues to produce great fantasy numbers. Last week he had two touchdown passes to go along with his usual 71 rushing yards.
Sit Matthew Stafford (4.74 FP) – Stafford is struggling and at this point, if he is still on your roster, you can cut him.
Bad Calls for Week 14...
Start Baker Mayfield (13.72 FP) – Mayfield had been a top-12 fantasy QB since Hue Jackson was fired and had a great matchup last week against the Panthers, but simply didn’t produce.
Sit Carson Wentz (18.82 FP) – Wentz finally had a good game against the Cowboys, throwing three TD passes in a losing effort.
START THESE QBs...
Kirk Cousins, MIN (vs. MIA)
Cousins hasn't been very good in recent weeks, but that may change in Week 15. Since Week 9, he's been in single digits for fantasy points twice, and under 20 in four of five games. So that's not a glowing recommendation for the fantasy football playoffs. However, at his best, Cousins is a solid fantasy option. He can generate mid-20s in terms of fantasy points, which should easily put him in QB1 territory. The Dolphins are allowing 23 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in the last four weeks, the third most in the NFL during that timeframe. Cousins is finally back at home and has been a much better option in U.S. Bank Stadium. Trust him to get you to the finals.
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. ARI)
If you started Ryan last week you sure were happy with that garbage-time touchdown that took him from bust to boom, but he now returns home for a date as an 8.5-point favorite against the Cardinals. Their implied team total is about 27 points and while Ito Smith looked better (and Tevin Coleman continues to struggle), the Falcons are at their best throwing the ball. Julio Jones is matchup-proof and Patrick Peterson won’t stop him. After logging a heartbreaking zero red-zone looks between Weeks 2-9, Jones has seen eight in Weeks 10-14. It may have taken the Falcons awhile, but at least they now realize they should just feed Jones, which will only help Ryan’s fantasy production.
Lamar Jackson, BAL (vs. TB)
Jackson gives you multiple ways to score fantasy points, which can come in handy during the later portions of the year. The major issue with Jackson is that he needs a certain game flow to be productive. But that game flow should be in play against a Buccaneers team that is likely done for the season. Tampa Bay is still battling injuries and after an encouraging first half against New Orleans, the Buccaneers were unable to do anything. Tampa Bay has struggled against QBs all season, so Jackson should be a solid fantasy option, especially if he can make something happen with his arm in addition to his legs.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Derek Carr, OAK (at CIN)
Carr hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 5, but he also only has four multi-touchdown games in that span and one 300-yard effort. The latter came last week against the Steelers with Carr throwing two TD passes in the win and legitimately making some good throws. This spot on the road against a Bengals unit that is dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 29th in TD passes allowed, and 27th in pass-defense DVOA looks like one Carr can possibly take advantage and put up 20-plus fantasy points. This makes Carr a better starting option this week than some big-name quarterbacks (see below).
SIT THESE QBs…
Aaron Rodgers, GB (at CHI)
Everyone remembers Rodgers orchestrating a come-from-behind victory on one leg against the Bears at the start of the season. But that has been a highlight in an otherwise mediocre year. The six-time Pro Bowler is completing a career-low 62 percent of his passes and will again face a Bears defense that ranks No. 1 in the league per Football Outsiders. Plus, Chicago hasn’t allowed more than nine fantasy points to a QB since Week 12, and that includes holding Jared Goff to 180 passing yards with four interceptions last Sunday.
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. NO, Mon.)
For all the fun that Baker Mayfield’s deep shots provided last week, Newton’s arm looked like a college freshman’s in comparison. He struggled to hit medium-range out routes and was once again lifted for backup Taylor Heinicke when a Hail Mary situation arose. With five interceptions to his name over the last two weeks, Newton is a fringe QB1 this week heading into a Monday night showdown with the Saints. The possibility always exists for Christian McCaffrey to help Newton into the top 10, but his shoulder injury dampens both his air and ground potential. After carrying the ball at least seven times in seven of Carolina’s first eight games, he’s done so only once in the last five with no TDs over that span.
Dak Prescott, DAL (at IND)
Don't buy the hype. Prescott isn't a consistent fantasy option. He had plenty of opportunities to make plays last week against a bad Philadelphia defense, and while he had major yardage, he still had some turnover problems. And in a matchup where the Colts will bring a defense that ranks among the top 10 in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to the position, I don't anticipate Prescott will be able to duplicate his Week 14 effort. Prescott also hasn't been as productive on the road compared to home games. Don't expect much from him in a tough matchup in Indianapolis.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Russell Wilson, SEA (at SF)
Wilson is coming off of an atrocious Monday night showing against the Vikings at home, but his 72 yards on 10-of-20 passing and 61 rushing were enough to help secure a 21-7 victory. It was nice to see him scramble, but this is your worst nightmare with run-heavy Seattle come to life. It’s worth noting that he didn’t have Doug Baldwin to throw to, but he’s still completed just 21 passes in his last two games and is averaging 214 passing yards per game for the season. This is a good matchup but the Seahawks are having success with a formula that features a heavy dose of Chris Cason and others on the ground combined with some stingy defense not Wilson throwing the ball all over the field.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Houston Texans (at NYJ, Sat.)
Houston's defense is coming off a four-point stinker in a loss to the Colts, but I'd expect it to bounce back against rookie Sam Darnold and the Jets. The Jets have averaged two giveaways and allowed more than two sacks per game, so J.J. Watt and his defensive mates are in a good position to make get some serious fantasy points.
Tennessee Titans (at NYG)
Over the last six games, Tennessee has held all but one opponent to no more than 17 points to go along with 18 sacks. Not good news for Eli Manning.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Arizona Cardinals (at ATL)
Arizona's defense has failed to meet expectations in recent weeks, scoring a combined 20 fantasy points over the last five games. Things won't get better when the Cardinals travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons. Opposing DSTs have averaged just 3.2 fantasy points when facing Matt Ryan and crew in Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season.
Philadelphia Eagles (at LAR)
The Eagles DST finished in the top 10 in fantasy points last week, but that won’t happen this week against an angry Rams offense. DSTs that have played Los Angeles at home this season have averaged a meager 2.3 fantasy points per game. Remember what the Rams did to Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. If you need a DST to stream this week, why not see if the Titans or Bills or perhaps the Jaguars are available.
— 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.