Fantasy owners reading this are likely in the playoffs (congrats!) as Week 15 is a playoff week in just about all leagues. If you've gotten to Week 15, you likely have a solid handle on your team and know who should lead you to a fantasy championship.
However, injuries and bad matchups are the challenge every week. As a result, other players may have to step in. The waiver wire – or even just fantasy benches – all become topics of discussion when it comes to putting the best lineup forward.
Please note the five up/five down column 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. Five up/five down is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have given up at least two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks. The defense doesn't travel well and this game is in Baltimore. On the other hand, Flacco has put together two very solid games: six total touchdowns and 300 passing yards in each. He has found a way to get players involved in the offense in order to succeed. Flacco isn't a must-start (he's the No. 16-ranked quarterback), and his ceiling isn't very high, but he is a solid start for fantasy owners worried about their quarterback matchup.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Even though the Eagles don't allow many receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs (only two all year), Dixon should still exceed his No. 26 ranking. He stepped up on Monday night with eight receptions (on 11 targets) for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also had 11 carries for 39 yards (compared to Terrance West's two rushes for two yards). Dixon is the preferred running back in Baltimore (finally!) and he should run well against the Eagles in Week 15.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
It is always hard to trust players returning after a few weeks off, however, Jeffery isn't returning from injury; he's returning from a suspension. While he hasn't played in a game with Matt Barkley, reports are the pair put in extra practice time to get their timing right. The Packers allow the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and the Bears will likely be playing from behind. It is a risk, as Jeffery wasn't playing great before the suspension, but he had time to heal from any minor injuries, and he should come back strong (he’s a pending free agent after the season). He's the 24th-ranked wide receiver, but should finish above that.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns
The key here is the opponent. The Browns have struggled at defending opposing wide receivers, and this is a chance for Watkins to have a great game. He's the 14th-ranked wide receiver this week, but he could sneak into the WR1 conversation. He hasn't had more than four receptions since returning from injury, but he did find the end zone in Week 14. He's been eased back into game action, and he has reportedly felt good with no setbacks. The injury is no longer a concern, and Watkins should finally be off any kind of snap count.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Even though this game is in Cincinnati and Ben Roethlisberger struggles on the road, he can't hand the ball off to Le'Veon Bell every time. Look for plenty of coverage to be on Antonio Brown, and Green will be the beneficiary of that in a great matchup. He did struggle last week with only two receptions for 25 yards, but the week before, he had six grabs for 110 yards and a touchdown. He's the No. 9 tight end this week, and is worth a look as a low TE1.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings
Luck and the Colts travel to Minnesota this weekend for a tough game. Luck was on the injury report on Wednesday with a shoulder and elbow injury. The good news is that he put in a limited practice on Thursday and is expected to play. However, Minnesota has not allowed a quarterback to throw for more than two touchdowns all season. Since their Week 6 bye, the Vikings have held three different quarterbacks to under 200 yards. Between the shoulder injury and the matchup, Luck is a tough sell to start this week. Fantasy owners likely don't have a better option, but he should finish below his No. 11 ranking.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans
Fantasy owners of Ware know that he has been struggling lately. A matchup against a team that allows the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs may not be the answer to anyone's problems. Ware hasn't averaged more than four yards per carry in the last three weeks. He also hasn't been a factor in the passing game since Week 1. He has five total touchdowns on the year (three rushing) and he has been vultured by Charcandrick West at the goal line. Ware is ranked as the No. 15 running back, but he is more of a RB3 than RB2 in Week 15.
Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions at New York Giants
The Giants played great defense in Week 14, shutting down the Cowboys. In Week 15, they host the Lions in what be a very rainy Sunday afternoon. Matthew Stafford suffered an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand, and although he is expected to play, his production may not be where it was prior to the injury. With only three touchdowns this season, Tate has been hit or miss. He's the No. 20 WR this week, but should be viewed as a WR3. Only two wide receivers have had more than 100 yards against the Giants, and Tate only has two 100-yard games this season. Between the weather, the matchup and Stafford, Tate is a risky start.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings
It does make sense that if a quarterback is projected to have a tough matchup, the wide receivers on the team may struggle as well. However, the No. 6 ranking for Hilton is just too high for this week to not include him on this list. Sure, he is coming off back-to-back nine-reception, 100-plus-yard games. However, he has struggled in tough matchups this year. Against Denver, he had four receptions for 41 yards. Against Houston, he had three receptions for 49 yards. Both of those games were away, and both teams are in the bottom five in terms of fantasy points given up to opposing WRs. Minnesota is second in that respect and this game is in Minnesota. This has the makings of a week where Hilton finishes way outside of the top 10.
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Tight end has been a struggle this year, and Week 15 is no exception. Walker has been a no-brainer TE1, but this week he has a tough assignment. The Chiefs have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. They've allowed two touchdowns to tight ends all year. Only two tight ends have had four or more receptions all season, and no tight end has finished with at least 50 receiving yards. The secondary has seen some injuries, but Walker should still finish lower than his No. 5 ranking.
Full Disclosure (Week 14):
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys, Ranked: 16, Finished: 26
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers, Ranked: 22, Finished: 16
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins, Ranked: 25, Finished: Outside the top 50
Taylor Gabriel, WR, Atlanta Falcons, Ranked: 51, Finished: 11
Lance Kendricks, TE, Los Angeles Rams, Ranked: 22, Finished: 37
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons, Ranked: 10 Finished: 2
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots, Ranked: 19, Finished: 14
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings, Ranked: 24, Finished: 46
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns, Ranked: 19, Finished: Outside the top 50
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans, Ranked: 12, Finished: 19
— 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.