Congratulations if you're still playing, as all of your hard work this season has paid off. Although you're better off playing the guys who have gotten you this far most of the time, there are a few players you should consider inserting into or removing from your lineup to help you survive and advance and in many leagues and capture that elusive title. Here they are in the penultimate edition of Start 'em, Sit 'em of the season.
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Chiefs
Admit it; if someone told you in August that you'd be starting Tyler Thigpen at quarterback in the fantasy playoffs, if not the finals, you would have told them to have their head examined. But here we are in Week 15, and the matchup for Kansas City couldn't be better, facing a Chargers defense in disarray, ranking 30th in passing yards allowed and tied for 28th in touchdown passes surrendered. Tony Gonzalez has been on a tear of late, leading all tight ends in catches (38), yards (448) and touchdowns (4) over the last five games. He'll enable Thigpen to post big numbers again after he lit up the Chargers up for 266 yards and three TDs a month ago in San Diego.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
MoJo hasn't exactly had the breakout season (607 rushing yards, 12 total TDs) those who drafted him had hoped for and neither has his team, but since you're still setting a lineup this week, he's obviously been good enough. Now with Fred Taylor, who's been stealing Jones-Drew's carries his entire career, sidelined by a bad thumb, it's totally Jones-Drew's show against a Packers defense that has allowed 367 yards and eight rushing touchdowns over the last three games and beyond.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
The Rams are in position to end a seven-game losing streak if they can hold home court against the Seahawks, who are in the midst of a six-game slide, themselves. There's little doubt that Jackson will be the best player on the field for either team and he's champing at the bit to have a big day on the heels of two solid performances against Miami (110 yards from scrimmage) and Arizona (67 total yards, 1 TD rec.). He's gained 100 yards from scrimmage and/or scored a touchdown in the last seven games he's played against the Seahawks, and with Seattle simply playing out the string, he'll extend that streak.
Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts
Joseph Addai is plagued by a bad shoulder, meaning that Rhodes will see many, if not all, of the carries for the red-hot Colts against the soon-to-be historically poor Lions. In fact, it would be surprising to see Addai participate in a game that the playoff-bound Colts have little chance of losing. Typically classy, Tony Dungy likely will attempt to keep the score low, meaning the Colts will go with a ball-control offense once they've opened a comfortable lead. That should translate into big numbers for all Indy runners, especially Rhodes.
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks
The former Super Bowl MVP tried single-handedly to defeat his old team last week, catching four balls for 88 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season from Seneca Wallace against the Patriots. He's now made nine catches for 144 yards over his last two games. Look for him to continue his hot streak against the Rams' 23rd-ranked passing defense in what should be a competitive, if not sloppy, game.
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams
The Rams' lone bright spot of the season on offense has been the development of this rookie wideout who is challenging Torry Holt for the role of team receiving leader. The Seahawks have given up a league-high 33 passes of 25 yards or more (the Rams are second with 29), and Avery is second only to Philly's DeSean Jackson with six such long plays. The victim of a recent slump, he's a risk, but the reward can pay off handsomely.
Brett Favre, QB, Jets
In just two weeks the Jets have gone from one of the league's chic picks for home-field advantage to a team just struggling to make the playoffs. Much of the blame can be placed on the right arm of Favre, who over his last three games has fewer touchdown passes than Seneca Wallace, Daunte Culpepper and Kerry Collins, fewer passing yards than Shaun Hill and Jason Campbell and a worse passer rating than David Garrard. The Bills have allowed one or fewer touchdowns in six of the last seven games, and only Tyler Thigpen has thrown for more than 234 yards against them in the last six.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans
Schaub did well for you last week with a franchise-record 414 yards against the Packers, but this week, in a battle of the current Houston franchise and the former Houston franchise, it's better to go in another direction. The Titans have given up just eight passing touchdowns this season and held Schaub to only 188 yards with no touchdowns in Week 3, while picking him off three times.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
Bush hasn't come close to playing a cold weather game since Nov. 2006 in Pittsburgh, but that'll all change Thursday night when his Saints trot out onto Soldier Field to face the Bears. Playing mostly in domes hasn't prepared the sometimes fragile back for what's in store for him thanks to Old Man Winter, as light snow is expected with temperatures in the 20s, not exactly ideal conditions for a back whose entire game is predicated on quick cuts. Factor in that only heavier backs like Michael Turner and Adrian Peterson have enjoyed much success against the Bears this season while quick lighter backs like Chris Johnson and Warrick Dunn haven't, and you have enough reason to sit Bush if you have a better option.