Fantasy Football Week 15: Starts and sits, risks and sleepers for every game on the NFL schedule
Dave Richard gives start and sit calls for every game on the Week 15 schedule, starting with a look at Thursday's AFC West matchup.
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Looking for some lineup advice? You've come to the right place. Dave Richard will be previewing every Week 15 game right here. Find start and sit calls plus risks and sleepers for every game, then check out Dave's Cheat Sheets —, — to make sure you've got the perfect lineup set.
Green Bay at Chicago (-5.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
For years, Rodgers has rocked the Bears to help his Packers make the playoffs. Expect the Bears to serve some good ol' retribution. This is the same Bears defense that hobbled Rodgers back in Week 1, so there's no doubt that their pass rush will be a big factor. It doesn't help that the Packers might start as many as three backup offensive linemen, and it's an even bigger ordeal that Rodgers doesn't have a quality receiving corps to target. That's a big reason why he's been held to two scores or less in each of his last eight games with only two 300-yard performances. It has presented Fantasy owners with a low-upside quarterback option, and the outlook won't change this week versus a Chicago defense that has kept quarterbacks to 20 Fantasy points or less in seven straight. You didn't plan it this way, but Rodgers shouldn't be a part of your semifinal lineup.
Why take the chance on Trubisky if you don't have to? Yeah, the matchup's fine, but the matchup was fine for Trubisky last week and he threw one touchdown -- and three interceptions. In fact, he was way off on eight passes in the first half, got it together a little bit in the third quarter and then did not throw a single pass in the fourth quarter. Mind you, the Bears were up two scores but it wasn't some big blowout. I'm concerned the Bears will try to be conservative moving forward and not lean on Trubisky unless they have to. And it's not just based on this game -- he has failed to hit the 7.0 yards per attempt mark or 65 percent completion rate (or throw multiple scores) in three of his past four outings. Trubisky's low-floor expectation outweighs his chances of a big game.
Detroit at Buffalo (-2.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
We've seen Allen's ceiling and floor over his past three starts — 18 Fantasy points last week against the Jets and 32 against the Dolphins a week earlier. Still a work-in-progress as a passer, Allen has been dominating with his legs, averaging a preposterous 10.8 yards per run in those three games. Most of the time he's bailing out of the pocket whenever the pressure gets to him, but this week's matchup presents a dilemma. The Lions lost top pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah for the season and don't really have much of a pass rush to threaten Allen. Could that mean less leaving the pocket and (for better or worse) more passing? It suggests some risk for Allen, even if his floor is stable at, say, 200 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and a touchdown ... and a turnover. He's OK as a streamer but not a must-start in seasonal or daily leagues.
The same dilemma that plagued Golladay last week is going to be there again this week. The obvious top target in Detroit's passing game, Golladay will face quality cornerback Tre'Davious White, who isn't perfect but typically does a nice job against outside receivers and almost never allows yards after the catch. Matthew Stafford continues to work behind a bad O-line which will see plenty of pressure from the Bills' front seven. With five or fewer catches in three straight games, bank on Golladay as a touchdown-or-bust receiver.
Tampa Bay at Baltimore (-8)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Winston's delivered 22-plus Fantasy points in three straight games, but the Bucs' offense shriveling up last week combined with a tough road matchup this week make him a no-go. Expect the Ravens to pressure Winston a bunch, creating sacks and turnovers. Mesh that with a Ravens offense that looks to control the clock and it doesn't leave many opportunities for Winston, who was skittish last week, to come through with a big game. Winston's worst road performances have come against strong pass rushes — expect a disappointing outcome.
Risky Non-PPR Starter
With a nice dose of targets over his last three games, Humphries is a tough receiver to sit in full-PPR leagues. But in non-PPR formats he could leave you disappointed. Humphries doesn't average many yards per catch to begin with, and when you tack on the kind of coverage Ravens slot cornerback Brandon Carr has consistently displayed this year, it's tough to count on Humphries for a score or a lot of numbers. The only receivers with consistent slot work who have put a hurtin' on the Ravens are Tyreek Hill, D.J. Moore and Tyler Boyd (in Week 2, not Week 11).
I wonder if the Bucs lost some faith in Godwin after last week's 10-target, one-catch performance. He couldn't come up with some contested passes, nearly fumbled his one catch away and couldn't separate from his coverage. Now he'll see a Ravens pass defense that's allowed a 46 percent catch rate with one touchdown to receivers since their Week 10 bye. Baltimore might play without outside corner Marlon Humphrey, but the Bucs could (should) opt to put Mike Evans (who needs more targets) on backup Anthony Averett, thus sacrificing Godwin to Jimmy Smith's side of the field. Godwin has eight PPR Fantasy points or less in five of his last seven.
Edwards' snaps, carries and stats are sliding the wrong way over the past three weeks. If not for a great home matchup against the Bucs, he'd be a player to avoid. Tampa Bay's run defense hasn't really improved under new defensive coordinator Mark Duffner, giving up at least 10 Fantasy points to each starting rusher in seven of eight games. Kenneth Dixon's role is expected to expand, and his short-yardage touchdown last week is a little worrisome, but the matchup is tailor made for Edwards to continue gobbling up carries on those early rushing downs. He's handled at least 16 carries in four straight games and should see his rushing average improve on Sunday.
Arizona at Atlanta (-8.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
It's a travesty that Fantasy owners can't confidently start one of these guys (or both of these guys) given this A-plus matchup. Reality is, the Falcons are using both backs almost evenly, both are playing behind a disappointing offensive line, and the Falcons in general haven't run many plays near the goal line lately. But if you had to pick one, Smith gets the nod. He's a more physical, patient runner with slightly better hands. Maybe the coaches are noticing — Smith's playing time has slowly been on the rise and Coleman's slowly on the decline. Not surprisingly, Smith has out-touched and out-performed Coleman in two straight. Neither are safe, but both should see 10-plus touches and take advantage of the Cardinals' 30th-ranked run defense.
Oakland at Cincinnati (-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Behold the classic meeting of the irresistible matchup versus the underwhelming player. No one has allowed more Fantasy points to running backs than the Bengals — they've been shredded for 20 total touchdowns (14 rushing) and 5.0 yards per rush by backs this season. That alone makes Martin a start-worthy Fantasy option, though it is my duty to tell you that he's struggled with 2.7 yards per run in his last two games, collecting four or more yards on just 11 of his 34 carries (and only three last week). He's also barely contributed in the passing game, including zero targets last week. We're counting on Martin continuing his nice volume of carries with an end-zone visit. The risk involving his talent is totally mitigated by the Bengals' crummy run defense.
Tennessee at New York Giants (-2.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
How do you sit a guy coming off of a 238-yard, four-score game? You can't, especially against this defense. Last week the Giants played like they did in the 80s against a depleted Redskins offense, but in the seven games prior, a running back was involved in a score and had at least 12 Fantasy points. That's probably a fair assessment of Henry's ceiling since he's typically been a touchdown-dependent running back with under 60 rush yards in every game before last week's. But that potential is attainable given the Giants' run defense deficiencies. He's worth trusting as a middle- to low-end No. 2 option in seasonal leagues but seems too pricey for DFS use.
The Giants' pass defense has come around over the last six weeks, allowing just one outside receiver to have a big game (Mike Evans, Week 11). It's a credit to the Giants' improving pass rush (10 sacks in their last two games) and pass defense (one passing score allowed in six of their last seven). The Titans aren't typically a pass-centric squad, and Davis himself has been a little touchdown-needy to be considered a Fantasy success. Through 14 weeks he has two 100-yard games and only one more outing with 70-plus yards. This is a tricky matchup for the Titans, making it hard to count on their passing game to shine.
Miami at Minnesota (-7)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
You might believe the Vikings are going to be a more run-focused team now that they've fired their offensive coordinator. I'm not quite sure that means Cousins will become a game manager, at least not this week. The Dolphins have been horrible against the pass over their last four games, allowing 8.0 yards per attempt, a 67 percent completion rate and 10 touchdowns through the air. Slot corner Bobby McCain has been a big liability and now must contend with Adam Thielen. Stefon Diggs should have plenty more targets than what he's had the past two weeks. Dalvin Cook can contribute out of the backfield. Expect an efficient game from Cousins as part of a huge feel-good victory for the Vikings offense.
Washington at Jacksonville (-7)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Sneaky PPR Sleeper
So let's review: The Redskins stink. Jordan Reed is out. Josh Doctson isn't expected to play. Josh Johnson is fresh off his first two-touchdown showing since 2009. Davis is 34 years old. What's not to like?! At least we can count on Davis playing a lot and being a short-area target for Johnson, whose mobility should help him keep some plays alive. The hunch is that Davis builds on the three targets and one two-point conversion he caught from Johnson over 32 snaps last week. With a 70 percent catch rate on the season, he's a candidate to rack up some receptions and potentially score in what should wind up being a Redskins blowout loss. As tight ends go, that's not such a bad thing.
Washington's pass defense is as sloppy as it gets — seven touchdowns through the air in its last three games. But to trust a Jaguars receiver is to trust Cody Kessler, and that's hard to do. Though he's not turning the ball over, Kessler is averaging 5.8 pass yards per attempt as part of a conservative, calculated offense focused on winning on the ground. The opposing offense figures to have just as many issues as the Jaguars', making for a boring game with little fireworks. Westbrook only had a good showing last week because the Jaguars were trailing pretty much all game long. Four catches, 49 yards and his touchdown all came on the final drive of the third quarter, and he had one target in the fourth quarter. Westbrook has also never had back-to-back double-digit Fantasy point games in non-PPR over his two-year career. If you're starting him, you're hoping he bucks that trend and catches Cody Kessler's third touchdown of the season.
Dallas at Indianapolis (-2.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Much has been made of the Colts' upstart, underrated defense, but most of their success has come against bad quarterbacks. In their last 10 games, seven quarterbacks have delivered 20-plus Fantasy points against the Colts. Most of them threw multiple touchdowns but in the last four weeks Indy has shown a weakness against running quarterbacks, giving up 5.5 yards per carry to them. Prescott has a minimum of four carries in each of his last five and should run a little more on Sunday. Really, Prescott's been a better quarterback since Amari Cooper's arrival — the offense has opened up and Prescott has a higher completion percentage on more pass attempts. Expect it to continue in what will be a high-scoring shoot-out.
A non-factor in the passing game, Mack has devolved into a touchdown-dependent running back. His last five weeks have produced averages of 13.0 carries and 47.0 rushing yards per game with two scores. To be fair, he's taken on some tough defenses in those five, but the Cowboys aren't going to be any easier. Dallas' run defense has revved up, holding backs to one rushing touchdown and 4.0 yards per carry in their last five games. That includes their Thursday game versus the Saints when Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for eight Fantasy points.
Seattle (-5.5) at San Francisco
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Mullens is catching the Seahawks after their feisty shut-down of Kirk Cousins on Monday, but it's the first time in seven weeks where a quarterback didn't get at least 20 Fantasy points against them. It's also a short-week road game for the Seahawks. Mullens isn't exactly the next Steve Young but he has been good for our purposes the past two games, managing to land at least 23 Fantasy points in each including a garbage-time success story at Seattle two weeks ago. I'm not convinced the Seattle defense is suddenly a shut-down squad, nor do I think their pass defense improves against tight ends with Mychal Kendricks out for the year and fellow linebacker K.J. Wright not expected to play. That's great for George Kittle, adding another wrinkle to Mullens' outlook. Don't be surprised if he outperforms Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield and Mitchell Trubisky.
With Rashaad Penny's knee ailing him, the opportunity is there for Carson to see as many carries as he had last week in his incredible performance against a very good Vikings run defense. Not that he's been missing in action — Carson's had 16 or more carries in three of his last four games. And over those four games he's averaged 4.4 yards per tote with three touchdowns. The Niners run defense has started to crack since cutting Reuben Foster, yielding a 4.3-yard average to opposing backs with a score allowed in each of their last three.
New England (-1) at Pittsburgh
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
I think we've seen what Samuels' game is: Average running back, better pass-catcher. The Steelers were wise to lean on his strengths last week, making him a regular part of the passing game while taking what they could get on carries. Despite losing a goal-line touchdown to Stevan Ridley, Samuels averaged more yards per carry (even if it was 2.5 to 0.8) and completely out-pacedhim on snaps and touches. The Patriots run defense has been uncharacteristically awful the past two weeks, giving up 8.8 yards per run against the Dolphins and 7.3 yards per run against the Vikings. Being on the road for the second straight week isn't easy for the Patriots, either. Samuels is still a candidate to score but his Fantasy value is in his receiving skills. That makes him trustworthy in PPR and good enough to still start in non-PPR as a No. 2 option. He does have eight Fantasy points in that format in consecutive weeks.
Michel has disappointed the past two games, getting 37 carries and turning them into 120 total yards (3.2 average) with no scores. His longest run over those carries? 9 yards. His scoring opportunities? He's had six carries inside the 10 including one at the goal line, but no touchdowns. Meanwhile, James Develin has three. Michel even couldn't come up with a score late last week that would have iced the game against the Dolphins. I'm nervous the Patriots will consider spreading their carries around on Sunday and not give Michel the kind of chances they did earlier this season — or even last week. Adding to the intrigue is a Steelers defense that allows just 96.9 rush yards per game but has allowed a touchdown to a back in six straight. Will Michel score? That's what you're hoping for if you start him. It's a risky decision.
Philadelphia at Los Angeles Rams (-9)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
The change at quarterback from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles makes this pretty obvious. The return of Aqib Talib has made the Rams pass defense strong against receivers (9.2 yards per catch over the past two games!). Talib is the perfect corner for the Rams to stick on Jeffery. The wideout needed a touchdown last week to break a five-game skid of five points or fewer in Fantasy. It'll take another one of those to even put him into the No. 2 receiver group. Don't bank on it.
New Orleans (-6) at Carolina
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Newton's play last week was better, but he also had a dialed-down gameplan that called for lots of short passes until very late in the third quarter when they started letting Newton throw deep. Newton was hit-or-miss, which is better than what managed in Week 13 at the Bucs. Expect the Saints to scheme against Newton's short-area passing, either forcing him to keep passes short or setting him up for turnovers when he throws long. It also does not help Newton that the Saints have one of the staunchest run defenses in football. Christian McCaffrey is an equalizer — he could always take a screen pass to the house to help Newton's numbers —but counting on that to happen with any Panthers pass catcher isn't exactly a sound way to pick a quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City (-3.5)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
There's actually a lot to like about Williams' situation. The lead running back for the Chiefs typically gets a lot of work — Kareem Hunt averaged nearly 19 touches per game and Spencer Ware had over 17 per game the last two weeks. Kansas City's running backs also rarely see stacked boxes because of the incredible passing threat Patrick Mahomes presents. Williams is a good-handed, fresh-legged 26-year-old back in the right place at the right time. The Chargers run defense has slid over the last two weeks, giving up over 4.0 yards per carry and three total touchdowns to James Conner and Joe Mixon. Five of the last six rushing touchdowns L.A. has allowed have come from three yards or closer, and we saw last week that Andy Reid is cool with giving Williams short-yardage touchdown chances (he was 2 for 2). Getting these Chargers at home on a short week is just another advantage. Williams' appeal is based solely on volume — expect 15 touches and a good chance of scoring against the Bolts. He's a safer option in PPR than non.
Jackson was incredibly disappointing last week, failing to gain more than three yards on any carry against the Bengals -- the Bengals! Now it appears he'll lead the Chargers run game in a pivotal divisional road matchup on a short week. He's worth starting by virtue of his expected workload and ability to catch passes (he caught 122 passes in four years at Northwestern), but there is downside. If the Chargers fall behind or see that Jackson is ineffective, Philip Rivers will take over and they won't run much. In these last two games without Melvin Gordon, L.A.'s running backs have carried the ball on 35 percent (at Steelers) and 39 percent (vs. Bengals) of the team's plays. A silver lining: the Chiefs have allowed big numbers to running backs all season long, including 5.5 yards per run against the Raiders and Ravens with a rush score to each in the last two weeks. He's a No. 2 option if Gordon is inactive and unusable if the Chargers make Gordon active. The official word on Gordon will be known by 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
Houston (-6) at New York Jets
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (available on fuboTV)
This doesn't have the feel of a high-scoring shootout, not with the Jets averaging 20.8 points per game and the Texans holding opponents to under that amount. Watson's quietly been a drain on Fantasy lineups, posting over 20 Fantasy points once in his past four. He's running more lately but hasn't been prolific through the air, finally breaking a seven-week skid of tossing under 250 yards last week. Don't get this confused with a tough matchup, because it's not. But also don't get confused with the Texans becoming a pass-heavy offense in a road game they probably can win with a conservative game plan.
Cleveland at Denver (-3)
Saturday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
More involved in the past two weeks, Landry has back-to-back games with double-digit Fantasy points. They've been very different games — one a six-catch, 103-yard breakthrough, the other a two-score game with 54 rush yards and 57 receiving yards. But the common thread is that the Browns are finding ways to keep Landry involved, which is a step in the right direction. The Broncos have had some problems covering slot receivers since Chris Harris' injury, typically enlisting safety Justin Simmons. Landry can win that matchup when he lines up there. Also in Landry's favor is the Browns' expected plan to have Baker Mayfield get rid of the ball quickly to negate the Broncos' pass rush. And even if Mayfield sees receivers streaking downfield, Landry should make the Broncos coverage pay on underneath routes. It helps that Tyler Boyd and JuJu Smith-Schuster are recent slot-heavy receivers who have done nicely against this scheme.
The Broncos allowed a ton of numbers to George Kittle last week and to Travis Kelce in previous weeks but have otherwise done OK defending tight ends. The Browns haven't been featuring Njoku on offense, leading to some grim numbers when Fantasy owners have been expecting more. He has one touchdown in his past six games and one plus-60-yard performance in his past eight. His targets have also slid to just 5.0 per game in his past three. And do you really think the Broncos are going to let a week go by without emphasizing defense against tight ends after what happened last week? Unfortunately, Njoku has become a touchdown-dependent tight end with minimal upside. Start him if you don't have a better option.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said this week he told quarterback Case Keenum to let it rip, but Keenum did a little bit of that last week and it worked for Tim Patrick, not Sutton. Sutton had two deep targets he couldn't come up with and dropped one of two end-zone targets. That was against a 49ers secondary that lined up weak corners against him but still were able to run stride for stride with him. The Browns have a good outside corner in T.J. Carrie and a very good outside guy in rookie Denzel Ward. If Ward clears the concussion protocol, he'll likely cover Sutton and potentially make his stats lean. Meanwhile, Patrick and new slot receiver DaeSean Hamilton should continue to see throws go their way. Sutton is a dicey flex.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking quarterback could win you Week 15? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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