It’s semifinals week. Only the top four teams remain, if you’re playing in a league that ends in Week 16 (you should!), so now’s the time to put up your best performance of the year to date. If there’s any conflict that you’re having with one of your roster spots, I hope this Week 15 start/sit helps and you’re able to get a chance to battle for your league’s crown.
Drew Brees vs Colts
After my biggest misstep of the season last week, it’s going to be quite some time before I recommend sitting Brees again. In fact, Brees should be back in every lineup this week against Indy, who just allowed Jameis Winston to post the second-highest fantasy output of the week (behind Brees). Currently being started in fewer than 60% of ESPN leagues (likely because of the 49ers game), Brees should be started by everyone who doesn’t also own another top-5 quarterback.
Ryan Tannehill vs Texans
Listen, I’ll keep doing this. Tannehill is still being started in just 37% of Yahoo leagues and an embarrassing 29% of ESPN leagues, which is inexplicable because Tannehill has been a top-3 quarterback since Week 7, which is more than a big enough sample size in my opinion. He finally started to up his passing volume this week too, and managed to maintain an outrageous completion percentage of just over 77%, which he has now posted for three weeks in a row. The man is a league winner, and he now gets as easy a matchup as you could want against the Texans at home. An excellent start in a must win playoff game.
Matt Ryan at 49ers
The 49ers defense got embarrassed last Sunday at the Saints, but I expect a complete turnaround back at home. The Niners are allowing just 11.0 points per game at home to QBs, compared to the 17.4 they’re now allowing on the road. To get a full perspective of just how solid San Francisco has been, that road average was just 12.8 before the Saints game. The Niners remain arguably the toughest matchup for quarterbacks this season, and I don’t expect Matt Ryan to shred them like so few have this year, even with him coming off two consecutive respectable performances.
Carson Wentz at Redskins
The Redskins have actually been on the difficult side lately when it comes to fantasy matchups, but that isn’t really the primary problem for Wentz right now. The problem lies with the Eagles in general, and that the injuries to their offensive weapons are limiting their overall ceiling. It took a brilliant 4th quarter and an additional OT touchdown drive to get Wentz to a startworthy fantasy number on Monday night. He struggled to move the ball for the majority of the game, and the struggles should only worsen without Alshon Jeffery and against a tougher opponent.
Raheem Mostert vs Falcons
The 49ers backfield is starting to reshape itself with Mostert at its head, so if you were to hitch your wagon to any of the 49ers’ running backs it would be him. Kyle Shannahan has been singing Mostert’s praises lately, and mentioned that the team is going to try to get him the ball more often. Against the Falcons, Mostert could be heavily featured and looks like he could be an excellent late season add for playoff teams.
Devin Singletary at Steelers
No, the Steelers haven’t been friendly towards running backs, but Singletary has been undergoing a breakout in recent weeks and is now receiving so many touches that it may be best not to overthink it. Singletary has been consistently extremely efficient with his touches, averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry in every game he’s played except for Week 7, which was his first game back from an injury. If Singletary hasn’t reached must-start status, he’s getting pretty close. I’m not letting the matchup scare me off.
Marlon Mack at Saints
A weak performance against the unbelievable Bucs run defense slowed Mack down, but he managed to get into the end zone to save his day. Mack takes on another tough opponent this week in the Saints, and it’s quite possible New Orleans jumps out to an early lead in this one. Although that’s not a great reason to leave a back on the bench, Mack’s slow return and the Saints’ run defense combine to leave me hesitant on Mack this week.
Sony Michel at Bengals
You know a running back has really fallen off a cliff when he shouldn’t be considered a starter against the Bengals. Michel has been one of the worst running backs in football this year, and is no longer receiving a consistent number of carries to warrant starting him unless under the most desperate of circumstances. His ownership still hovering around 90% in most platforms is puzzling; he hasn’t topped 8.5 PPR points since Week 7.
Darius Slayton vs Dolphins
Okay, this may be for real! After his terrific Monday night against the Eagles, Slayton is now putting up the third-most points per game since Week 10 (and the most in non-PPR leagues). And what does he get now? A game against the Dolphins. It’s clear that Eli Manning isn’t going to limit Slayton’s fantasy value after he fed him five passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, so with Eli likely back under center in Week 15, Slayton should be a very good start against the Dolphins
A.J. Brown vs Texans
Brown has really seen his career take off under Ryan Tannehill, and a five-catch, 153-yard, two-touchdown performance against Oakland (not a typo, just an eerily similar performance to Slayton) is what he needed to finally become a legitimate start candidate in the season’s closing weeks. Given how sold I am on Tannehill’s play, I’m doubling down and putting Brown in too, if I have an open spot. And many do, thanks to some players who have been spectacularly crashing and burning lately, like one guy in particular…
Tyler Lockett at Panthers
I held off on putting him here last week because like many, I remember the days not so long ago when Tyler Lockett was a fringe WR1. Now, after four games with an average of 27 yards and not a single touchdown, I don’t know if you can risk keeping him in much longer. Hopefully you survived your first round after his disappointing 8.3 (his best score since Week 9), but most likely didn’t. Can you enter your semifinal matchup against one of your league’s best teams with Lockett in your lineup again? If you have someone like a Slayton or an AJ Brown that’s doing enough to play his way into your lineup, I’d make the switch.
John Brown at Steelers
John Brown has been a frustrating fantasy asset this year. Just twice has he not finished a game with a double digit point total, but just three times have those games been above 14.2 points, and two of those were against the Dolphins. It’s tough to call him a “sit” when he’ll probably give you 11 or 12 points, but it’s equally hard to call him a “start” for the same reason. Two weeks ago, however, Brown salvaged a lost game with a touchdown pass, and this week he was held to just 26 receiving yards, without any touchdown passes to bail him out. Brown hasn’t topped 40 yards in three weeks, and it appears that the pendulum is finally swinging in a direction. A road game in Pittsburgh shouldn’t help Brown get back on track, so he doesn’t make a strong playoff start.
Dallas Goedert at Redskins
I mentioned that I don’t love Wentz this week, but with JJ Arcega-Whiteside the only fully healthy wide receiver on this roster, this is a game where Zach Ertz and Goedert are going to see target after target out of necessity. Since coming off their bye in Week 11, Goedert has seen at least six targets come his way in each game. He should easily exceed that number in Week 15 against Washington.
Greg Olsen vs Seahawks
I had Olsen as a “Sit” last week against the Falcons, and then he didn’t play, which feels cheap on my end. So I’m doubling down now that Olsen has returned to practice and is expected to play. There are quite a few better options at this stage of the season that can provide a higher ceiling for you that can make all the difference in a tight playoff game. Goedert, Noah Fant, Jack Doyle, and even OJ Howard are more interesting plays this week than Olsen.