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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em: Week 15

For most fantasy football managers, the playoffs begin in Week 15 and officially commenced with the Thursday night game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

While there are fantasy managers on the outside looking in, we still can use these start/sits as a way to find an edge in DFS or prop betting during the final month of the season.

Doing start/sit articles can be a little challenging. The players featured on the list below should not be taken as “must starts” or “must sits.” Instead, these are more suggestions on what we believe managers should do with fringe players heading into the weekend. The choice is ultimately up to the manager.

Just because a player is listed as a “start” doesn’t mean he should be put in the lineup over the secure, bona fide studs. Vice versa for the “sits.” If there’s no better option on the waiver wire or the bench, a manager shouldn’t automatically sit the player. That’s why these can be tricky waters to navigate.

You also can check out our start and sit bench list for Week 15:

Sit: TE Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

(The Tennessean, USA TODAY Network)

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Dallas Cowboys

It will be difficult for managers to bench Engram following his incredibly explosive outing in Week 14 when he finished as the TE1, but we should temper expectations if he is in lineups. Engram’s career has naturally been filled with boom/bust production, dating back to his days with the New York Giants. Now, Engram takes on a Cowboys defense that has been extremely stout against tight ends throughout the entire season and especially in recent weeks. Over the last five weeks, the Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game to the position and are only one of three teams to have allowed one touchdown or fewer throughout the entire campaign. The tight end landscape may force managers to start Engram, but it may not be pretty.

Start: TE Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos

Credit: Jamie Schwaberow, Getty Images

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals

Start tight ends against the Cardinals. It’s really that simple when it comes to the process of this take. Dulcich has flashed enough during his rookie campaign to show that he can have a big game in favorable matchups. The Broncos will be without Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton again, which means more targets for the rookie. Dulcich has eight targets in each of his last two games and should be a primary focus of the offense even with Russell Wilson out due to a concussion. The Cardinals have allowed the most receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and PPR points per game to the position on the season as a whole. Over the last five weeks, they’ve allowed the fifth-most PPR points per game, which suggests they haven’t figured out their issues. Trusting the Broncos offense takes guts, but the process is screaming to start Dulcich.

Sit: WR DJ Chark, Detroit Lions

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Week 15 Opponent: at New York Jets

Chark has been a solid start over the last two weeks, but managers should be wary about his upside against the Jets in Week 15. It mostly has to do with quarterback Jared Goff (more on him below) and the matchup against a tough secondary. The Jets have been one of the stingiest defenses against wide receivers throughout the entire season, and they’ve been doing it at a pretty consistent rate. On the season as a whole, they’ve allowed the third-fewest PPR points per game to the position, and over the last five weeks, they’ve allowed the second-fewest. Chark’s athleticism and big-play ability present upside in most situations, but there is simply too much going against him to be trusted in the fantasy playoffs.

Start: WR Chris Moore, Houston Texans

(Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports)

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

This is a deeper play and one that will take some intestinal fortitude. However, Moore has shown some intriguing upside in certain situations — this being one of them. First, Moore will once again lead the wide receiver room as both Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks have been ruled out. So, the volume should be there. Secondly, there have been three games in which one or both of Collins and Cooks have been out. In two of those games, Moore finished as WR17 and WR10. It’s a small sample size, but it’s enough for hope. Thirdly, the Texans are going to play catch up. They put on an impressive show keeping pace with the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14, but Chiefs are a different animal. They will score at will. And while we shouldn’t simply chase garbage time and negative game scripts, the Texans will have to throw the ball. Also, over the last five weeks, the Chiefs have allowed the fourth-most PPR points per game to wide receivers. There’s a lot going for Moore as a sneaky play this week.

Sit: WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Unfortunately, this is what the Bucs offense has come to. I’m not in love with this suggestion, because I’m typically a “start your studs” type of fantasy manager, but Evans is an extremely scary start right now. The Bucs offense is in shambles, and Evans has suffered mightily from it. Over his last nine games, Evans has finished as a WR2 just twice and hasn’t done so since Week 8. He hasn’t found the end zone since Week 4, and the matchup against the Bengals is a rough one. Believe it or not, they’ve allowed the fourth-fewest PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks, and that includes allowing just one touchdown. There will be managers who refuse to sit Evans, but if there’s a more stable option, it’s probably best to pivot.

Start: WR Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

As someone who was touting Pittman as a sleeper/breakout candidate during the preseason, it hasn’t felt like we’ve received a solid campaign from the third-year wideout. Even so, he’s still the WR25 in PPR points per game, and he had the fifth-most receptions entering Week 15 — both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf passed him on the list Thursday night. He has a 25% target share on the season as a whole and has at least at least six receptions in six of his last eight games. Coming out of the bye week, he gets a Vikings defense that has allowed the most receptions, yards and PPR points per game to the position over the last five weeks. Pittman Jr. should provide some fireworks this week.

Sit: RB Zonovan Knight, New York Jets

(Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Detroit Lions

This one may be tougher for fantasy managers, because there’s a good chance Knight helped teams get into the playoffs. Though he’s finished as an RB2 in each of the last three weeks — his only active games of the season — there’s a lot going against him in Week 15. The matchup against the Lions isn’t as easy as it may seem. While teams certainly can throw the ball against Detroit, they’ve struggled mightily on the ground. Over the last five weeks, the Lions have allowed the fewest PPR points per game to the position. During that span, they’ve completely stopped the likes of Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Travis Etienne, and Devin Singletary. On top of the tough matchup, Jets quarterback Mike White wasn’t cleared from his rib injury so Zach Wilson is starting. Knight has only played with White, so we don’t know how he’ll play with Wilson under center, but we know the Jets offense is worse for it. It may be tough to sit Knight right now, but he’s a scary start.

Start: RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Opponent: at Cleveland Browns

This may not be a super hot take considering Dobbins ran for 120 rushing yards and a touchdown while finishing as the RB9 in Week 14. However, that was his first game since Week 6, so there’s a chance managers have other options to start as well. But Dobbins showed he can still be a big-play machine, evident from his 44-yard run against the Steelers in his game back. While Lamar Jackson will miss another game due to a knee injury, Dobbins will take on a Browns defense that has allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game and the third-most rushing yards to running backs over the last five weeks. There’s RB1 upside for Dobbins this week.

Sit: RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

Credit: Sam Greene, The Enquirer

Week 15 Opponent: at Carolina Panthers

Had it not been for a rushing touchdown, Harris would have finished his third consecutive game outside the top-24 in Week 14. It’s been a rough season for Harris, who is averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has found the end zone just seven times total this season. The Steelers are going to be rolling with either (or both) Mitchell Trubisky or Mason Rudolph, neither of which will give Harris a bump in the passing game. On top of that, the Panthers have been solid against the run. Over the last five weeks, they’ve allowed the second-fewest PPR points per game and are the only team not allowing any touchdowns to the position over that span.

Start: RB Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Week 15 Opponent: vs. New York Giants

Coming out of the bye week, Robinson will have a full head of steam in a favorable matchup. The last time he played, it was against the Giants in Week 13 when he took 21 carries for 96 rushing yards while adding two receptions for 15 receiving yards. The Giants have been brutal against the run in recent weeks. Over the last five weeks, they’ve allowed the most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns while allowing the fourth-most PPR points per game to the position. Even with Antonio Gibson being cleared, Robinson should see plenty of work in a fantastic matchup.

Sit: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Opponent: at New York Jets

Despite being the QB4 in each of the last two weeks, Goff is an alarming start this week against the Jets. Not only have the Jets simply been tough on quarterbacks, allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position over the last five weeks, but Goff himself has been abysmal on the road. While Goff has averaged 21.1 fantasy points per game at home, he’s averaged just 8.5 fantasy points per game on the road. Yep, you read that correctly. Goff averages 50 fewer passing yards on the road, and he’s thrown only two touchdown passes in his five road games. The Jets defense has been one of the strongest units throughout the entire season, and Goff could be at their mercy.

Start: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Rams

For a multitude of reasons, Rodgers hasn’t played at the MVP level we’re accustomed to seeing. However, there have been better results in recent weeks. Though the yardage hasn’t really been there, Rodgers has thrown multiple touchdown passes in nine of his last 12 games. And even though the Rams are middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed over the last five weeks, they have allowed the sixth-most passing yards during that span. The emergence of Christian Watson and the return of Romeo Doubs should give Rodgers enough weapons to work with, and he could be a fringe QB1 play for those in need of a streamer.

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