NFL Starts/Sits: Week 15
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Our week 14 picks finished with 13 wins and 11 losses, coming in just under our 60% hit rate for the year. Notable hits included David Montgomery, Mike Davis and Brandon Aiyuk as starts and Kyler Murray and Dallas Goedert as sits. Misses included Wayne Gallman and Jarvis Landry as starts, and Miles Sanders as a sit. Let’s get into week 15.
Win/loss methodology: I look at fantasy finishes for all my previous week’s picks, including honorable mentions, to assess which players were start-worthy or not. In other words, if they finish within QB12, RB30, WR30 or TE12 (accounting for a RB/WR flex spot). On average for half-PPR scoring, that means the following:
START: Deshaun Watson, Texans
Watson had a tough go last week in a game against a tough Bears defense, missing key playmakers at RB and WR. Despite the situation, Watson still finished with a 101.9 QB rating along with 38 rushing yards. Watson has looked good in the second half of the season, including hitting 20+ fantasy points in three straight games before last week. Since week 7, Watson has averaged 37 rushing yards, which helps with his floor.
Other QB starts: Phillip Rivers (vs. Texans), Jared Goff (vs. Jets)
SIT: Matt Ryan, Falcons
I was expecting big things from the Falcons offense coming into the season, but they’ve mostly failed to deliver. Ryan has been front and center in that disappointment, finishing in the top 10 QBs only once since week 7 and being held under 15 points in his last four. He’ll be without Julio Jones again this week, and while he’ll be facing a beatable Buccaneers defense, he hasn’t shown enough to warrant being in your lineup for the fantasy playoffs.
Other QB sits: Cam Newton (at Dolphins), Kirk Cousins (vs. Bears)
START: J.K. Dobbins, Ravens
We’re finally getting some clarity on the Raven’s backfield, and it’s good news for Dobbins. The rookie has had double digit carries in five of his last six games, including at least 13 half-PPR points in three straight. Gus Edwards is still getting touches, including getting the occasional nod in the red zone, but Dobbins has emerged as the clear #1 in this offense.
The Ravens get a juicy matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, who rank as the 5th best matchup for fantasy RBs, and the 2nd best matchup since week 11. Expect the Ravens to jump out to a lead and use the running game, with Dobbins leading the way, to keep it out of reach. Start him with confidence.
Other RB starts: Kareem Hunt (at Giants), Melvin Gordon (vs. Bills)
SIT: Damien Harris, Patriots
Harris and the Patriots offense have looked completely uninspiring of late, including scoring 3 points last week on TNF against the Rams. It hasn’t been all bad for Harris, who’s scored double digit fantasy points in three of his last five. However the tape shows the Patriots lack the ability to move the ball down the field with any consistency right now, which really caps the upside of Harris and other playmakers.
The Pats play against a Dolphins team this week that is peaking at the right time, particularly on defense. Miami ranks as the 11th toughest matchup for fantasy RBs on the season and the 6th toughest since week 11. They’ve also yet to allow an RB to rush for 100 yards. With the Dolphins defense firing on all cylinders in December, it’s hard to see Harris being the first.
EDIT: Harris has been ruled out for week 15. The above also applies to RB Sony Michel, who will step into the starting role for the Patriots.
Other RB sits: J.D. McKissic (vs. Seahawks), James Conner (at Bengals)
START: T.Y. Hilton
Hilton has really resurrected his season in recent weeks. He really struggled in his first nine games of the season, averaging 5.2 half-PPR points. Compare that to the 20.1 points he’s averaged in his last three games, and it’s easy to see why Hilton is making his way back on the nice list just in time for Christmas.
This week Hilton gets the Texans at home in a divisional rematch. In their week 13 game, Hilton reached season highs in targets, receptions and yards, to the tune of 21 fantasy points. With CB Bradley Roby suspended for the Texans, Hilton should excel against a secondary that is allowing the 8th most points to WRs since week 11.
Other WR starts: Brandon Aiyuk (at Cowboys), Keke Coutee (at Colts)
SIT: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
One common misconception fantasy managers have in the fantasy playoffs is to “start the guys that got you here.” While I understand the logic and psychological safety of that statement, putting blind trust in the name value of guys like Lockett can be dangerous. Lockett has finished inside the top 30 WRs only once in his past seven games, averaging 8.3 half-PPR points over that span.
The Seahawks match up against Washington this week, the 3rd toughest defense against fantasy WRs this season. Vegas predicts an over/under of 45.5 in this game, one of the lowest on the slate. With the Seahawks’ passing game losing efficiency over recent weeks, the volume might not be there for Lockett to hit value. While it’s difficult to sit someone of Lockett’s talent and ball tracking ability, lower your expectations for him this week.
Other WR sits: D.J. Moore (at Packers), Tee Higgins (vs. Steelers)
START: Jared Cook, Saints
Cook has rebounded nicely the last two weeks from a rough midseason slump. He also gets Drew Brees back this week, which is a great sign. In the seven full games Cook played with Brees under center this year, he reached 8.3+ fantasy points in all but two. He also received at least one red zone target in each of those games. The offense will also be missing Michael Thomas this week, meaning more opportunity over the middle of the field and in the red zone, where Cook has flourished.
The Saints get the Chiefs on Sunday in the game of the week. It’s a dome game in New Orleans with an over/under of 51 points. With the state of TE this year touchdown opportunity is key, and Cook presents that opportunity this week.
Other TE starts: Rob Gronkowski (at Falcons), Irv Smith Jr. (vs. Bears)
SIT: Jonnu Smith, Titans
I liked Smith coming into this season, and early on he really delivered, averaging 15.3 half-PPR points over his first four games. He’s dropped off heavily since then though, reaching 10 points only twice in his last seven and catching more than 2 balls one time over that span.
The Titans face off with the Lions this week who have been sneaky good against TEs of late, allowing the 3rd least points to the position since week 11 (7.8 points). Avoid Smith and the rest of the Titans TEs this week.
Other TE sits: Hayden Hurst (vs. Buccaneers), Jordan Akins (at Colts)
Good luck in your playoff matchups this week!