As the fantasy football season slowly draws to a close, picking the right guys to start is more important than ever. After Week 14, many fantasy owners are faced with starting a group of guys that are far different than the guys they started in Week 1. No longer do we care when someone was drafted; we care about how they will perform this week. We need wins, and if we don't get them, the season is over. The five up/five down column isn't a start/sit; rather, it's a guide to help if you are making tough lineup decisions.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
The Saints play Monday night, at home, against the Lions. Typically Brees plays best at home, and he usually is able to put on a show in prime time. The Saints have had two such games this season: Week 4 and Week 6. In Week 4 vs. Dallas, Brees threw for 359 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. In Week 6 vs. Atlanta, he had 312 yards and a touchdowns and no interceptions. While those aren't his highest performances of the season, it certainly propels him into the clear QB1 range for Week 15. He's ranked No. 6 in the quarterback rankings this week.
Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
While T.J. Yeldon has not been officially ruled out, odds are against him playing this week. The next man up is Robinson. The quarterback-turned-running-back took over after Yeldon went down in Week 14. He had 14 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown and added one reception for 12 yards. The Jags play the Falcons in Week 15, and Atlanta allows the most points to opposing running backs. Start him as a RB1 this week. He's No. 9 in the running back ranks for this week.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Brown was making his way into must-start territory before he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Since then, fantasy owners have been reluctant to trust him. However, in Week 15 he faces the Eagles, who have allowed an opposing wide receiver to score a touchdown every week since their Week 8 bye. They allow the most points to opposing wide receivers, and while Brown is competing for receptions with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, he's averaged five receptions over the past three games. With the speed to break out a long one, Brown is a high-end WR2 for Week 15 and is the 16th-ranked WR.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Baltimore has given up eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past three weeks. While that stat is somewhat inflated by the five touchdowns they gave up to the Seahawks WRs in Week 14, the fact is they gave up all those touchdowns recently. In the past three weeks, he has 24 receptions for 323 yards and three touchdowns. The volume has been there for him, and as long as he continues to get that volume (which he should), he is a borderline WR1 in Week 15.
Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions
The Saints, aside from last week, have been giving up a ton of points. With the game in New Orleans on Monday night, this has the potential to be a shootout. The Saints allow the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Brandon Pettigrew is now on injured reserve after tearing his ACL. When Pettigrew was injured earlier in the season, Ebron had his best games. Between the matchup and the opportunity, Ebron is a TE1 this week.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
While it is possible that Rivers gets Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman back this week, and the Dolphins are among the top 10 most generous defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, don't get too excited just yet. In the past two weeks, he hasn't thrown a touchdown. Granted, those games were against Denver and Kansas City, but it's not encouraging. Rivers is a QB2 this week, even with the nice matchup.
Shaun Draughn, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Draughn went from playing every snap in Week 12 to having 13 touches in Week 14. He had a great matchup against the Cleveland Browns and managed 43 rushing yards. He only added two receptions for eight yards as well. While DeAngelo Williams found the end zone twice in Week 14 against the Bengals (who Draughn faces this week), it's still hard to trust Draughn. The 49ers may find themselves trailing in this game, which means Draughn will see fewer carries. He's a low-end RB2 this week.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Cooper treated his fantasy owners to the beloved goose egg in Week 14. It was a touch matchup against Denver and he is battling a foot injury, but it was still rough for those who started him. If fantasy owners managed to get through Week 14 even with no help from Cooper, it's hard to trust him against Green Bay this week as well. He hasn't found the end zone since Week 9. In the past five weeks, he has three games with 69 yards or more and two games with under five yards. He's a WR3 this week.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Here's the controversial pick of the week. Baldwin has been absolutely on fire, but is it sustainable? The matchup against Cleveland is a good one, and he has eight touchdowns in the last three games. He is tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns so far this season (11). At some point, there has to be a regression. It may not be this week (he's still a WR1), but it's coming. James Jones scored six touchdowns in the first six weeks of the season - and has one since. Baldwin is more talented than Jones, but at some point, he is going to disappoint. (Disclaimer: I may be a week too early on this).
Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, Jeremy Maclin is on the "five up" list, and Kelce is on the other. Since his two-touchdown performance in Week 1, he has gotten into the end zone just twice. He hasn't had a 100-yard game since Week 1, and he's only had six receptions in a game twice since Week 1. In the past two weeks, he's had a combined five receptions for 60 yards. While Baltimore gives up a ton of points and yards to opposing wide receivers, they give up the second-fewest points to opposing tight ends. He's a low-end TE1 in Week 15. He's the No. 8 tight end for Week 15.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.