The Week 17 start em, sit em lineup advice post is up.
Update 12/19: I am all updated on the questions in the comments as 7:30 this morning. I will do my best to answer questions between now and kickoff, but please have patience if it takes a little while to answer. I’ll be out Christmas shopping and doing all other kinds of running around today. Halelujah for the iPhone.
The playoffs are here (unless, of course, your playoffs started last week), which means that each of us will be agonizing over and obsessing about every lineup decision we are faced with this week.
Before I get into this week’s start ’em, sit ’em picks and projections, I want to give you two very important pieces of advice: don’t outthink yourself and remember that stars are stars for a reason.
Sounds crazy right?
Well, Campbell has throw seven TDs over the past three weeks and faces a Giants defense that would probably give up 200 yards passing and a couple of TDs to Navy. Tom Brady, on the other hand, has thrown only three TD passes over the last three weeks and faces Buffalo’s very stiff pass defense.
When you look at the stats that way, it almost looks like a slam dunk that you should start Campbell right?
Well I wouldn’t. And you know what? I wouldn’t sit Randy Moss either.
At the end of the day, Tom Brady is a superstar future Hall of Famer because he can produce against any defense and can do so in the toughest of situations. And if you did sit Brady, wouldn’t you be terrified that he and Randy Moss would come out with an Eff-you attitude and party like it’s 2007?
There is no guarantee that Tom Brady will have a great day this Sunday, and in fact Jason Campbell could very well put up better stats. But it’s the playoffs. And for me, it all comes down to trust.
Who do you trust? That is who you should be starting.
Despite his struggles the last month, I still trust Brady over Campbell. If I’m going to lose in the playoffs, I’m going down with my Hall of Famer, not a guy who has had three good weeks now that the pressure is off.
If you beat me with Campbell and I have Brady, I’ll tip my hat and congratulate you, but I won’t second guess myself. There is nothing worse than making a playoff exit and second guessing a decision.
Okay here is a quick look back at Week 14, which was another pretty good week for me:
- Start ’em hits: QB Matt Schaub, HOU; RB Jamaal Charles, KC; WR Michael Crabtree, SF; Baltimore D/ST;
- Start ’em misses: TE Heath Miller, PIT; Pittsburgh D/ST;
- Sit ’em hits: QB Brett Favre, MIN; RB Cedric Benson, CIN; WR Antonio Bryant, TB; TE Zach Miller, OAK
- Sit ’em misses: Denver D/ST;
And real quick, before we get into this week’s start em, sit em picks, here is a quick note from our sponsor, Sadler’s Smokehouse.
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Fantasy Football Week 15
Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Lineup Advice and Projections
Week 15 Start ‘em, Sit ‘em Picks: Quarterbacks
Start ’em: Tom Brady, New England (at Buffalo)
After that intro, you knew that I had to go with Brady here, right?
Now stop looking at me like I’m crazy. I know how abysmal the stats have been recently, and yes I saw Randy Moss loafing through the Panthers game, but I don’t care. If Tom Brady is my #1 QB (and assuming I don’t have someone like Matt Schaub or Tony Romo on the bench) he is starting this week.
First off, it’s Tom Brady. And I trust him. New England is facing a must-win divisional game with Miami and the Jets nipping at their heels, and I think we will see a very focused team. As for Moss, I think the unconditional support that Brady and Belichick showed him this week will result in the kind of Eff-you attitude that I described above.
I know that Buffalo’s D is good, but they aren’t good enough to cover a motivated Randy Moss.
Plus, consider that in 15 career starts against Buffalo, Tom Brady has thrown 32 TDs and only 11 INTs. Earlier this year he threw for 378 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT, and all everyone could talk about is how bad he looked.
Granted, the Patriots have not played well on the road this year. And yes, the weather could end up being bad this weekend. (Goodness, I could probably talk myself out of this pick if I really kept this up!)
But as I said above, it’s Tom Brady. If I’m in the playoffs, he’s my guy. I admit that this is more of a gut feeling than anything suggested by the stats, but it’s not like he isn’t capable and doesn’t have the weapons.
Tom Brady Week 15 fantasy projection: 315 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Other start ’em QBs for Week 15:
- I wouldn’t start him over Tom Brady, but Jason Campbell is still a very solid start this week.
- Umm, Kurt Warner is facing Detroit. You’ve been noticing what teams are doing to Detroit right? Warner will most likely be your high scorer in Week 15 if he plays into the 2nd half.
- Aaron Rodgers is a good start this week against Pittsburgh, which has been very susceptible to big plays in the passing game without Troy Polamalu.
- And since I know that you will ask, yes I would start Peyton Manning this week. You need to track what is coming out of Colts’ camp, but it looks like Manning will at least play a half and probably more. I’d be more worried about Week 16 and Week 17, but the Colts don’t want Manning sitting for three straight weeks.
Sit ’em: Brett Favre, Minnesota (at Carolina)
Yes, I am telling you to sit Brett Favre for the second week in a row. It’s not so much that I think Favre is playing poorly, I just think the matchup is not optimal and that the Vikings seem to really want to go back to being a power running team.
Here are Favre’s TD passes the last four weeks: 4, 3, 2, 1. Obviously you can see where the trend is headed, and it’s not good.
As for the matchup, Carolina has allowed the third fewest (tied with five other teams) TD passes in the league: 13. For those of you who are mathematically challenged, that is less than one per game. Cincinnati presented a similar matchup last week (13 TDs given up headed into the game) and held Favre to less than 200 yards and a only one TD in the Metrodome.
Most importantly, I think that this will be another dominant game for Adrian Peterson, which means that Favre will take a back seat. That means that if you have a decent option, I’d get him ready for Week 15.
[FYI: for those of you wondering how I can say sit Favre and start Brady when there appears to be no discernible difference in trends, recent stats, or matchup, here is the difference: Brady and the Pats’ passing game has something to prove and they are fighting for a playoff spot. Favre and the Vikings are not. In the NFL, having something to prove and play for late in the season can often lead to big weeks where they might not be expected.]
Brett Favre Week 15 fantasy projection: 200 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT
Other sit ’em QBs for Week 15:
- Matt Ryan is an obvious sit if he starts as Atlanta is facing the Jets’ D, which has given up seven TDs all season long. Chris Redman is also a sit.
- David Garrard was at home and had a very nice matchup in Week 14 (Miami) and he stunk. On short rest with the 13-0 Colts coming to town, I’d prefer to sit Garrard if I could.
- Don’t get cute and think that starting Matt Cassel is smart just because he’s facing the Browns and gets Dwayne Bowe back. Bowe will likely be rusty, the Browns’ D has been playing better lately, and Cassel, well, he sucks.
Week 15 Start ‘em, Sit ‘em Picks: Running Backs
Start ’em: Knowshon Moreno, Denver (vs Oakland)
Readers, I trust you enough at this point to know that I don’t need to recommend Jamaal Charles anymore, especially when he’s facing Cleveland’s run D. And I feel fairly certain that you can look at Quinton Ganther’s two TD performance last week, see that he’s facing a Giants D that has given up 17 rushing TDs this season, and know that you should start him too.
And hopefully my pick of Knowshon Moreno this week is obvious as well. The reason I am putting him here is because of his rough outing in Week 14 against the Colts. The rookie carried the call 23 times but generated only 63 yards. Don’t let that scare you off this week though.
Luckily, Moreno draws Oakland’s run D in Week 15, the same defense that surrendered two TDs to Ganther in Week 14 and that has given up 20 rushing TDs on the season.
Moreno could very well be a top-5, top-10 back this week. My prediction below is fairly conservative.
Knowshon Moreno Week 15 fantasy projection: 120 yards rushing, 1 TD, 2 rec, 15 yards
Other start ’em RBs for Week 15:
- Obviously Charles and Ganther, as explained above.
- I know that he was underwhelming last week, but I like Justin Forsett this week. He got 13 touches last week at Houston, and if he gets that many in Week 14 against Tampa Bay, he could generate 100 yards and a TD.
- Don’t overthink DeAngelo Williams. He’s a stud RB and will get more carries with Jonathan Stewart hobbled. I know that Minnesota has a good run D, but Carolina does not have much else.
Sit ’em: Matt Forte, Chicago (at Baltimore)
It is finally time to cut bait folks.
Forte is averaging 3.4 yards per carry this year and has scored a whopping four touchdowns. When did this guy turn into Jamal Lewis?
This week, the Bears head to Baltimore to face a defense that may be aging, but is always fired up at home and is actually playing for a spot in the playoffs, unlike the Bears who are just playing out the string.
There is absolutely nothing to like about Forte right now, and I would only consider him if I did not have another back who will get 15+ touches, or maybe as a flex in a PPR league…if I was desperate.
I know it will pain you to sit your first round pick in the playoffs, but Baltimore has given up only seven rushing TDs on the year. There are better options…much better options.
Matt Forte Week 15 fantasy projection: 60 yards rushing, 4 receptions, 25 yards, 0 TDs
Other sit ’em RBs for Week 15:
- LeSean McCoy has to sit right now. He’s splitting carries and not even doing much with the carries he gets.
- I know that Reggie Bush scored two TDs last week, but he still had only 12 touches…which is the first time he’s been in double digits in a while. I don’t like those odds, especially with a desperate Dallas defense coming to town that has been playing pretty well lately.
- I’m scared of Cedric Benson again. He has scored only one TD in the last four weeks, and last week was the first time in the last four weeks that he has averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry. Plus, San Diego has given up only eight rushing TDs all year, and showed Dallas last week that they can be tough around the goalline.
Week 15 Start ‘em, Sit ‘em Picks: Wide Receivers
Start ’em: Randy Moss, New England (at Buffalo)
So, guess which game I am going to be watching closely this weekend?
I can already foresee many of you asking me if you should take Randy Moss out of your lineup. I may go down in flames saying this, but I say no.
There is no receiver in the NFL who is more dangerous when motivated than Randy Moss when Tom Brady is under center. I think that there was friction between Moss and Bill Belichick that surfaced in his play in Week 14. Now that Belichick has publicly supported Moss, despite obvious evidence that Moss was loafing, I think the hatchet can be buried.
If the Patriots weren’t competing for a playoff spot, and if Moss didn’t respect Tom Brady, I would not be so confident. But Moss is a prideful player who knows that all eyes will be on him this week.
I would stake my playoff hopes on him rising to the occasion, and I am recommending that you do the same, bad matchup, bad trends, and all.
Randy Moss Week 15 fantasy projection: 7 receptions, 115 yards, 2 TDs
Other start ’em WRs for Week 15:
- Miles Austin has been outstanding for three straight weeks. With Dallas playing New Orleans, we know that they will need to score points and that Tony Romo will have to air it out. Take advantage.
- Santonio Holmes has been a very solid receiver over the last four weeks: 27 receptions, 402 yards, two TDs. For the season, he now has 70 catches and is already over 100 yards. Green Bay gives up a lot of passing TDs, making Holmes a solid start.
- The Cardinals are facing Detroit’s terrible defense, and I’d bet that Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin don’t play the whole game. That could open up some opportunities for Steve Breaston, who should have a very good day.
Sit ’em: Roddy White, Atlanta (at New York)
There are a lot of things working against Roddy White this week:
- He is coming off of a subpar two-catch, 41 yard performance in Week 14.
- His quarterback is injured and won’t be 100% even if he returns this week.
- The Falcons are playing the Jets in New York…in December…which means the weather could be nasty.
- The Jets possess Darrelle Revis, who shuts down everyone.
I could probably go on, but do you need me to? This is a week to sit Roddy White unless you are really desperate.
Roddy White Week 15 fantasy projection: 3 receptions, 43 yards, 0 TDs
Other sit ’em WRs for Week 15:
- What the hell is up with Mike Sims-Walker? I’ve got to think that he is nowhere close to 100% but is trying to gut it out with Jacksonville in the playoff race. But two catches and 18 yards over the last two weeks means a spot on the bench this week.
- I still don’t like Terrell Owens. He’s too up and down for my tastes.
- Antonio Bryant was an obvious sit last week facing the Jets, but I’d be worried about using him this week too. The reason? The rookie playing QB.
Week 15 Start ‘em, Sit ‘em Picks: Tight Ends
Start ’em: Fred Davis, Washington (vs New York Giants)
How good has this guy been? I nabbed Davis a few weeks back and have been able to enjoy his four TDs in the last three weeks.
This week, Davis faces a Giants’ pass defense that is really struggling. I realize that putting Davis here may be a bit obvious considering how hot he is, but I don’t want anyone to overlook this hidden gem with so much on the line in Week 15.
Fred Davis Week 15 fantasy projection: 4 receptions, 45 yards, TD
Other start ’em TEs for Week 15:
- I almost put this guy as the official TE start ’em – and I probably should have – so make sure that you start Jermichael Finley. He has 12 catches over the last two games and 22 over the last four. The only stat that has made Davis more valuable is TDs, where Davis has Finley doubled up over the last four weeks.
- I like Tony Gonzalez a lot this week. Atlanta is going to really struggle throwing to WRs, which could mean even more targets for their Hall of Fame TE.
Sit ’em: Greg Olsen, Chicago (at Baltimore)
I know that you are still nostalgic about Olsen because of his three-TD game from earlier this year, and you are afraid to leave him on your bench because he could explode at any second; and you’re right, he could…but I’d leave him on my bench rather than risk another two-catch performance like what we’ve seen for two straight weeks.
Baltimore is going to present a lot of problems for Jay Cutler and the Bears offense, and Olsen is just too up and down for me to trust him in the playoffs. There are plenty of other TEs that are guaranteed to give you four or five catches and at least some positive production. Go with one of them and make sure you get at least some points out of your TE slot.
Greg Olsen Week 15 fantasy projection: 3 receptions, 25 yards 0 TD
Other sit ’em TEs for Week 15:
- John Carlson scored a TD in Week 14, but he still only has seven catches over the last four weeks. Not enough targets.
- Dustin Keller has two catches for eight yards over the last two weeks. Why is he still on your roster?
Week 15 Start ‘em, Sit ‘em Picks: Defense / Special Teams
Start ’em: Denver Broncos D/ST (vs Oakland)
Yes, this one is pretty obvious, but I’m picking them anyway. With Bruce Gradkowski out, the Raiders will be starting either Charlie Frye or JaMarcus Russell (cue: laughter). If the Broncos could pick of Peyton Manning three times, what do you think they will do to Oakland with either of those guys playing QB?
Denver Broncos D/ST Week 15 fantasy projection: 13 points or less, 3 INTs, 4 sacks
Other start ’em D/ ST units for Week 15:
- I like Baltimore against the Bears, especially if Ed Reed is back. With Jay Cutler throwing INTs like he is Santa Claus handing out presents, Reed (or anyone else in Baltimore’s secondary) could have a chance to take one to the house.
- I really like how well the Jets’ D is playing right now, especially with the Falcons’ top two offensive players hobbled.
- Seattle, Arizona, Minnesota, and Houston all have very nice matchups.
Sit ’em: Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (vs San Diego)
The Chargers have won eight games in a row and simply are not turning the ball over very often. Plus, they are an automatic bet to put up 20+ points. With so many other great options out there, why would you even think about running the Bengals out there this week?
Cincinnati D/ST Week 15 fantasy projection: 20 points or more, 1 INT, 1 sack
Other sit ’em D/ST units for Week 15:
- Washington’s D has been a decent play this year, but the Giants’ offense has been playing much better lately. Stay away.
- I’d think twice about New Orleans’ D this week. They are giving up more points lately and Dallas’ offense is not turning the ball over, but just hasn’t been great in the red zone. New Orleans is a decent play this week, but there could be a really nice matchup you might rather take advantage of.
The comment section beckons below. As usual, I will do my best to get to all of your questions. As always, try to get them in by Friday, although I will try to answer as many as possible on Saturday and leading up to kickoff on Sunday.
And don’t forget that we now provide constant fantasy updates at our nfl page: http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/category/nfl. Bookmark that page to stay up-to-date with the latest fantasy football news. You can also follow me on Twitter.
Finally, good luck in Week 15 everyone. I hope to see you all back here next week as we set our lineups for Week 16 and get ready to take home some championships.
* – Brett Favre photo credit: Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT via NJ.com