Start ’em sit ’em tips for Week 15 of the NFL season

Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 15 lineups!

Start: Steelers D/ST, Panthers D/ST

The Panthers won last week, but Sam Darnold got just 5.0 YPA and wasn’t asked to do much. Pittsburgh enters with a DL>OL advantage and has played far better this season with T.J. Watt on the field.

The Steelers will be starting Mitch Trubisky on the road against a quietly surging Carolina defense that ranks third in DVOA over the past five weeks. Carolina has also shut down the run since allowing Joe Mixon to explode, and this matchup has one of the lowest totals of the week.

Start in DFS: Miles Sanders ($26)

Start: Justin Fields

Sanders led the league in rushing last week and is on pace to run for 15 touchdowns this season after scoring zero last year. He has one of the best career YPC (5.1) in NFL history and has benefitted more than any back in the league from game script this season. The Eagles are the second-biggest favorites (-8.5) this week against a Bears defense that ranks last in DVOA and has been gashed for an NFL-high 21 rushing scores and the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs. Opponents have the highest run rate in the league when facing Chicago this year.

Sanders should be treated as a top-five RB this week, but his DFS salary doesn’t reflect that.

Miles Sanders has huge fantasy upside in Week 15. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Fields dialed back the designed runs during his return from a shoulder injury but still finished as a top-five fantasy QB and should be healthier now coming out of the bye. He gets a tough matchup against an Eagles defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, but Fields has been a top-10 QB in each of his last seven games while never attempting 30 passes. Daniel Jones was a QB1 last week despite not throwing for 170 yards against Philadelphia thanks to his running. You don’t need to sit Fields, especially given the QB alternatives this week.

Start: Isiah Pacheco, Chris Moore

Jerick McKinnon is coming off a huge fantasy performance, but Pacheco has averaged 17.2 opportunities over the last five games, including most of the red-zone work. More targets for Pacheco would be nice, but a feature-back role on the Chiefs usually leads to a bunch of fantasy points. After facing a difficult run schedule over the last three weeks (LAR, @Cin, @Den), Pacheco gets a Texans defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Opponents have the second-highest run rate when facing Houston, and Kansas City has by far the highest implied team total. Treat Pacheco as a top-15 RB this week.

Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks are both out, and Moore has put up big numbers over two games when both have been out. The Texans are 14-point underdogs, so they’ll be throwing plenty against a Kansas City defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

Start: Dak Prescott, Trevor Lawrence

Prescott has struggled a bit over the last three weeks but should bounce back against a Jacksonville defense that’s been one of the most favorable to fantasy QBs over the last eight games. Dallas has the third-highest implied team total this week, so make sure Prescott is in your fantasy lineup in what could easily turn into a shootout.

CeeDee Lamb is the No. 1 WR on my board this week.

Lawrence was arguably the best player in the league last week, and he’s posted a 10:0 TD:INT ratio over the last five games. Dallas is a tough matchup, but volume should be there given the likely game script. Lawrence is simply playing too well right now to sit in fantasy leagues. He’ll be drafted as a top-five QB in 2023.

Expect a big bounce-back performance from Travis Etienne this week as well.

Fade in DFS: Amon-Ra St. Brown ($26), Zonovan Knight ($21)

St. Brown has emerged as a legit star, but it’s worth noting he’s averaged 7.8 catches and 86.9 yards with six touchdowns at home this season compared to 5.6-58.0-0 on the road. Jared Goff has a 20:3 TD:TO ratio in Detroit versus 2:4 on the road. While the Lions offense is improving — and Goff’s YPA drops a modest 0.2 away from home — St. Brown will be dealing with additional issues thanks to the cold weather this week as well.

The Jets have allowed the third-fewest YPA and fantasy points to wide receivers this season (including shutting down the slot). And while the Sun God still saw nine targets last week, he has far more competition for looks with Jameson Williams, D’Andre Swift and DJ Chark all healthy together for the first time. Don’t bench St. Brown in fantasy leagues but keep expectations tempered — and definitely look elsewhere in DFS this week.

After allowing 11 rushing scores by RBs over the first seven games, the Lions have yielded just two over six games since (with no back reaching 75 rushing yards over that span). When adjusted for opponent, the Lions have been one of the league’s stingiest defenses against fantasy backs since the team’s Week 6 bye. No running back has reached 10 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) against Detroit since Week 7. The Lions have held both Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook to fewer than 25 rushing yards on 15 carries over the last month. Knight has no doubt impressed while coming out of nowhere, but he ceded most passing-down work during Michael Carter’s return last week and gets a sneaky tough matchup Sunday. The return of Zach Wilson at QB for the Jets is another cause for concern regarding Knight’s outlook.

Sit: All Falcons

Start in DFS: Alvin Kamara ($19)

Let’s see rookie Desmond Ridder before trusting any Falcons in the fantasy playoffs, especially on the road against a solid New Orleans defense allowing just 4.9 yards per play over the last three weeks. The Falcons have one of the league’s lowest pass rates, deploy a committee in their backfield and will have a third-round rookie taking his first snap.

Kamara has averaged 5.6 catches, 125.4 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns over five home games. He’s scoreless while averaging 3.8 catches and 59.4 YFS over six games on the road. Kamara should have fresh legs coming off the bye that’s following an incredibly tough stretch of schedule against stingy run defenses (Bal, @Pit, LAR, @SF, @TB), and Mark Ingram is out (Andy Dalton remaining at QB is a plus for Kamara as well). This matchup should produce a favorable game script for New Orleans facing a rookie QB making his first start, yet Kamara barely has a top-15 RB salary in DFS this week.

Sit: Trey McBride

Start: Greg Dulcich

Denver is a tough pass defense, and McBride would rank second-to-last among 178 pass catchers in yards per route run if he qualified. The rookie is off to an incredibly slow start to his NFL career. Arizona’s offense has been equally as inept with Kyler Murray as it is with Colt McCoy this season.

Dulcich led all tight ends in air yardage share last week and now gets an Arizona defense allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Courtland Sutton will miss another week, and the Broncos are down numerous running backs. Dulcich has seen eight targets in back-to-back games and can be started in this matchup even with Brett Rypien at quarterback for Denver.

Start: Pierre Strong

Sit: Derek Carr

Strong played 70 percent of the snaps and saw eight of 10 RB opportunities in the second half last week after Rhamondre Stevenson left early. Damien Harris is out Sunday, Stevenson is a game-time call but wouldn’t be 100% if he goes and Kevin Harris will likely be involved. Strong should at minimum be the favorite for passing-down work with Stevenson out or limited against a Raiders defense allowing the most receiving yards to running backs this season.

Playing indoors against a Las Vegas D that ranks second-to-last in DVOA and in a New England offense with the second-highest RB target% (and with DeVante Parker out and Jakobi Meyers and Stevenson potentially playing coming off injuries), Strong has upside this week.

New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr. (35)

Could Pierre Strong take advantage of all the running back injuries in New England? (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Patriots have the No. 4 pass defense in DVOA and the second-highest pressure rate. Thanks in part to a lack of rushing, Carr has finished inside the top-10 QBs just twice all season, and he’s yet to post top-five QB stats in any week this year.

Start in DFS: Chig Okonkwo ($12), Justin Herbert ($36)

Okonkwo saw a nice bump in usage as expected last week with Treylon Burks out. Chig remains the near DFS minimum this week despite a new increased role while producing the second-most yards per route run among all pass catchers since Week 9.

Herbert has played through broken ribs, extremely shaky coaching and poor offensive line play this year. But he threw for 367 yards last week with Mike Williams and Keenan Allen finishing their first game together all season and should be in store for another big game facing a struggling pass-funnel Titans defense. Tennessee has the No. 28 pass D yet ranks first versus the run in DVOA, while opponents have the highest pass rate against them this season. The Titans have been gashed for the second-most fantasy points by quarterbacks in 2022, so Herbert is an intriguing DFS play.

Start in DFS: Ja’Marr Chase ($31)

Sit: Leonard Fournette & Rachaad White

Chase gets a boost with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst all banged up and/or out. He’s finished No. 1, No. 1, No. 23 and No. 3 among fantasy receivers over his last four healthy weeks and should be looking at increased targets with all the injuries in Cincinnati. Chase deserves consideration as a DFS building block in Week 15.

Buccaneers RBs get a boost in PPR leagues but Fournette and White are splitting snaps evenly. They’ll get a Bengals defense that’s been one of the stingiest in the league against the run when DJ Reader has been on the field this season. Over the last three weeks, the Bengals have held Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb each to fewer than 40 rushing yards. Fournette and White are at best FLEX options this week given the matchup and timeshare.

This isn’t an ideal matchup, but Mike Evans is absolutely due for an eruption week (and it helps Julio Jones looks highly questionable to play as well).

New York Giants @ Washington Commanders

Fade in DFS: Saquon Barkley ($31)

Start: Brian Robinson

Since getting 35 rushing attempts in Week 10, Barkley has 53 carries for 152 yards (2.9 YPC) over four games while playing through injuries. The Giants are hopeful Barkley’s neck issue improves this week, but that and a lopsided score limited him to a season-low 32% snap share against the Eagles. A rough schedule has also contributed to Barkley’s slump, and he gets another tough matchup this week against a Washington defense ceding the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Only the 49ers have been a worse opponent for fantasy backs when schedule is adjusted. The Giants have the fifth-lowest implied team total this week, so a banged-up Barkley should be considered more of an RB2 during the first week of the fantasy playoffs.

Robinson has racked up 236 yards from scrimmage while getting 5.2 YPC over his last two games and should be fresh coming off the bye (and further removed from getting shot). The Giants have the second-worst run defense in DVOA and have allowed an NFL-high 5.4 YPC this season. Robinson should get a heavy workload Sunday night, so he’s a strong start this week.

Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers

Sit: All Rams

Start: Christian Watson

Cam Akers can be started in this matchup if needed, but he’s seen multiple targets in a game once all season. Most fantasy managers will want to aim higher during the first round of the fantasy playoffs. The Rams offensive line is a mess, and Baker Mayfield has gotten just 6.2 YPA with a 4:6 TD:INT ratio (and six fumbles) over six starts this season. Playing outdoors in the cold, Los Angeles has the lowest implied team total this week.

Watson has an unsustainable touchdown rate but also ranks top-15 in yards per route run and yards per target during his impressive rookie season. It’s entirely possible Watson emerges from Green Bay’s bye a bigger part of the team’s game plan (although Romeo Doubs returns), and Aaron Rodgers has a 12:1 TD:INT ratio at home. The Rams are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, so make sure Watson is locked in fantasy lineups.

Advice originally included from Saturday slate

Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings

Start: Michael Pittman

Sit: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have allowed the most YPA, the most passing yards and the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Pittman has enjoyed his best fantasy games this year when Matt Ryan starts, so consider him a top-20 WR this week.

Thielen has scored in two of the past three weeks but has yet to reach 75 receiving yards in a game this season. He gets an unfavorable matchup this week facing a Colts defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to wideouts. Opponents also have the fourth-lowest pass rate when facing Indy this season.

Expect a big game from Dalvin Cook.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

Start: J.K. Dobbins, Donovan Peoples-Jones

Dobbins didn’t look fully healthy during his return last week (and admitted as much) but finished as a top-10 RB anyway. He’ll split touches in Baltimore’s backfield, but Dobbins should see plenty of work during his second game back along with Tyler Huntley starting. The Browns are yielding the third-most fantasy points to running backs and the most EPA/rush in the league this season, so it’s a nice setup to run Saturday.

Peoples-Jones has performed better on the road this season, but he’s been Deshaun Watson’s preferred target over two games since the QB returned (Amari Cooper is playing through a real injury). DPJ saw 12 targets last week when he was second across the league both in air yards and air yardage share. Opponents have the second-highest pass rate when facing the Ravens, and Peoples-Jones has had serious success against their primary coverage.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: Tua Tagovailoa

Start: Dawson Knox

After posting top-five quarterback numbers in three straight weeks, Tagovailoa hasn’t been a top-15 QB in any of his three games since the team’s bye. He’s struggled mightily with accuracy recently and gets a tough matchup in which to try to bounce back. Miami will travel for the third straight week to play Saturday night in Buffalo where a Winter storm watch has been issued in Orchard Park for “heavy snow.” The Bills have allowed one touchdown pass over the last two games with a healthy Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer in the secondary. Tagovailoa was just the QB25 when these teams met in Miami in Week 3, and Saturday night’s conditions will be far worse (when he also may not have a fully healthy Tyreek Hill at his disposal). The Dolphins have one of the lowest implied team totals this week, so Tagovailoa is a shaky start to open the fantasy playoffs.

Knox matched a season-high with seven targets last week and now gets a pass-funnel Dolphins defense that’s been one of the most vulnerable to tight ends this season. Pass catchers with a lower average depth of target like Knox would figure to be less affected by poor weather conditions.

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