Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league’s settings).
As an example, Tyrod Taylor is listed below as a “start” for Week 15. And I’d feel comfortable going into Week 15 with him as my starting quarterback.
That said, he may be a sit for your team.
In other words, if you owned both Matt Ryan and Taylor, you should start Ryan — and in turn, bench Taylor.
So while you won’t find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 15 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).
WEEK 15 FANTASY FOOTBALL START’EM
QB – Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (vs. CAR)
Cousins has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in seven consecutive games with an average of 22.13 fantasy points per contest over that stretch. Going back to Week 2, Cousins has finished as a top-15 weekly quarterback in all but one game (Week 6 vs. the Eagles).
This week, Cousins is behind only Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in my quarterback rankings. In addition, only the Falcons are projected to score more points this week than the Redskins (using Vegas odds).
On the season, Cousins is averaging 311.15 pass yards per game with 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Counting a pair of rushing touchdowns, he has accounted for multiple touchdowns in eight consecutive games.
QB – Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (vs. CLE)
With a season-low two rushing yards last week, Taylor ended a streak of 11 consecutive games with a minimum of 25 rushing yards and an average of 41.6 per game over that 11-game span. In addition, Taylor had a rushing score in five of his previous six games.
While we shouldn’t expect prolific passing statistics from Taylor (and Buffalo’s run-heavy offense) in any given week, he gets a fantasy-friendly matchup against the league’s most generous defense to opposing quarterbacks. In addition, improved health from Sammy Watkins is another positive for the outlook of his passing numbers.
As double-digit favorites, the Bills are projected to score the seventh-most points this week, according to Vegas odds. Given his favorable matchup and ability to make plays with his legs, Taylor is worth a start over some typical high-end QB1’s with difficult matchups — Tom Brady (at Broncos), Andrew Luck (at Vikings), etc.
RB – Bilal Powell, New York Jets (vs. MIA)
Dealing with a torn meniscus, Matt Forte may play on a short week against the Dolphins as he’s considered to be a game-time decision. Even so, I’d expect Powell to get the majority of work if both are active on Saturday night.
Powell had a massive 34 touches last week against the 49ers and posted a 29/145/2 rushing line to go along with five catches for 34 yards. The matchup isn’t nearly as favorable this week as the 49ers have one of the worst run defenses in the league, but the duo of Forte and Powell combined for 148 yards from scrimmage on 23 touches against the Dolphins in Week 9.
If Forte sits, Powell is a borderline RB1 this week. If he’s active, Powell remains a solid RB2.
RB – Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (vs. SF)
Even though I expect a bounce-back game from Devonta Freeman, Coleman should be productive as well. The second-year back out of Indiana had a pair of touchdowns last week as the Falcons blew out the Rams. A big play waiting to happen, Coleman has scored nine times on 110 touches — or roughly one touchdown per every 12.2 touches.
While Hyde has a great matchup, Coleman’s is even better. Not only have the 49ers allowed the most fantasy points to the position, no team has allowed more yards per carry (4.99) to opposing RBs or more rushing touchdowns (19) to the position. In addition, the Falcons are projected to be this week’s highest-scoring team using implied totals from Vegas odds.
RB – Robert Kelley, Washington Redskins (vs. CAR)
Even though he isn’t much of a factor in the passing game, Kelley should get a heavy workload with a minimum of 14 carries in six consecutive games since taking over as the starter. During that six-game span, he has averaged 80.3 rushing yards per game and scored a total of five touchdowns. Considering the Redskins are home favorites and projected to score the second-most points this week, Kelley could get a few goal-line opportunities this week.
WR – Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at SD)
Crabtree is listed as questionable on the injury report, but he’s fully expected to play this week. Crabtree had four catches for just 21 yards last week and now has less than 30 yards in three of five games, but a bounce-back performance should be expected.
Earlier this season, Crabtree had a 3/47/1 performance against the Chargers, but Casey Heyward is now shadowing and will likely shadow Amari Cooper. In other words, I like Crabtree as much as or even more than Cooper this week. In fact, I have both just inside my top-10 fantasy wide receiver rankings this week.
WR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. TEN)
Even with Jeremy Maclin back in the lineup and Travis Kelce exploding with four consecutive 100-yard games, Hill is a viable WR2 this week against the Titans. The matchup is great as no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season the Titans.
One of the fastest players in the league, Hill has a pair of return scores in his past three games. But the explosive receiver also has 50-plus receiving yards in five consecutive games and six of his past seven in addition to 11 carries in his past eight games. Even as Maclin gets healthier, Hill should maintain a significant offensive role.
WR – Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (vs. CAR)
As noted above, Washington has one of the two highest implied totals for Week 15. While his targets have been somewhat inconsistent, Crowder had double-digit fantasy points in six of his previous seven games prior to last week’s 2/37 dud. Even though he’s far from the biggest receiver, Crowder had 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in each of those seven games. The matchup this week is favorable as the Panthers have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, which means Crowder is a viable WR2 this week.
TE – Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (vs. IND)
Once again, Rudolph is one of the most-targeted tight ends in the league. In his past three games, Rudolph has 10, 12 and eight targets, respectively, and a combined 19 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown during that span. In those three games, he has a minimum of 23.53-percent target share. In other words, those are of three of his four most-involved games since Week 4.
Over their past five games, the Colts have defended tight ends better with no top-12 weekly finishes over that stretch. That said, they have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season so I expect Rudolph to get plenty of opportunities on Sunday.
TE – Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at DAL)
Brate has a minimum of four catches and 40 yards in three consecutive games and in five of his past six. Going back to Week 8, Brate has scored in four of seven games. During that seven-game span, Brate has a 31/349/4 line on 40 targets.
The Cowboys have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to oppposing tight ends this season. Brate, who has averaged 8.41 fantasy points per game in his past seven, could be in store for another solid outing.
WEEK 15 FANTASY FOOTBALL SIT’EM
QB – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CIN)
With a notable home-road split, Big Ben has averaged just 231.14 passing yards per game in his seven games away from Heinz Field this season with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Scoring single-digit fantasy points in four of those seven, he has averaged just 12.76 fantasy points on the road this year.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have allowed only two passing touchdowns in their past four games combined and no more than 13.26 fantasy points in any of those games. Roethlisberger is just outside of my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for the week at No. 14.
QB – Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. DET)
Manning has now thrown for less than 200 yards in three consecutive games and in five of his past nine games. Over his past seven games, he has averaged just 214.57 yards per game.
While the Lions have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, they have been much better lately. They have not allowed a top-12 quarterback in any of their past six games and during that span, they have as many passes intercepted (seven) as they have allowed passing scores (seven).
RB – Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (at BAL)
While Darren Sproles has already been ruled out for Week 15, it’s hard to trust Mathews in a tough matchup. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Ravens this season. Only the Cardinals (3.18 YPC) have allowed fewer yards per carry to the position than the Ravens (3.48) and they have surrendered just four rushing scores to running backs. Meanwhile, the Eagles are one of just six teams with an implied total under 18 points this week.
RB – Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos (vs. NE)
In his three games prior to Week 14, Booker had 24, 24 and 18 carries, respectively. Last week? Three. Even worse, he averaged just one foot per carry as he gained only one yard against the Titans. Booker had been anything but efficient, but he finished as a top-20 fantasy running back in the previous three weeks due to sheer volume. In his past six games, Booker has a total of 98 carries for 267 yards — or 2.72 yards per carry.
Booker should get more touches this week (than he had last week), but Justin Forsett had nearly double the number of touches (nine) that Booker had in his debut with Denver. Considering Kubiak’s history with Forsett, who already had familiarity with Kubiak’s offense, it’s certainly possible that the workload gap even widens this week as well.
RB – Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PHI)
West had a Booker-like rushing performance with two carries for two yards against the Patriots last week although he added four receptions for 24 yards. It was the third time in seven games that West had single-digit touches even though he has the same number of games with 16-plus touches during that span. That said, Kenneth Dixon had a season-high 19 touches last week and has 17-plus in two of three games so I’d trust Dixon much more than I’d trust West this week.
WR – Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)
It would be an understatement to say that Robinson has had a disappointing season. As bad as the season overall has been for AR15, it’s been even worse recently. Here are his fantasy points scored over the past three weeks: 2.4 (WR83), 3.1 (WR69) and 1.7 (WR82), respectively. To be fair, the matchups were tough, but he doesn’t have a great matchup this week either as the Texans have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers this year.
WR – Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (at CHI)
In his past six games, Cobb has a total of 21 catches for 222 yards — or 3.5/37.0 per game — and two touchdowns on 28 targets (4.67/G). Despite playing with Aaron Rodgers in a favorable matchup against the Bears, Cobb is a distant third, at best, behind Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams when it comes to Green Bay receivers that I’d start. Considering the historically cold temperatures expected in Chicago for Sunday’s game, you can do better than Cobb this week.
WR – Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (at WAS)
Scoring less than two fantasy points in consecutive games, Benjamin has two (or fewer) receptions in three consecutive games. Since beginning the season with a bang (6/91/1 and 7/108/2 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively), Benjamin has finished as a top-24 fantasy wide receiver in only one of 11 games — WR23 in Week 12. With Josh Norman likely to shadow the under-performing wideout, it’d be foolish to expect a bounce-back performance to happen this week.
TE – Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PHI)
Here are Pitta’s last six games: 2/14, 6/26, 3/30, 3/34, 9/90/2 and 4/18. One of these was clearly unlike the others and Pitta gets a difficult matchup this week agains the Eagles, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. It is highly unlikely that he bounces back in such a tough matchup.
TE – Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints (at ARI)
If Pitta has a tough matchup, Fleener’s matchup is even more difficult. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. It would be surprising if Drew Brees were to have three terrible outings in a row, but the future Hall-of-Famer has zero touchdowns and six interceptions in his past two games. While Fleener is coming off a one-catch, six-yard performance as well, I have much more confidence in Brees’ ability to bounce back than I do Fleener’s.
Good luck in Week 15!
You can find more of my fantasy football content and rankings on EDSFootball.com and/or follow me on Twitter @EDSFootball.