Fantasy Football Week 15 Start ’Em, Sit ’Em

Helping with some of your tougher lineup decisions heading into Week 15.
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Quarterbacks

Start:

Jameis Winston, Bucs—I am listing Winston as a start because I think there will be fantasy owners who shy away from him due to his injured thumb and the fact that WR Mike Evans is done for the season. Benching him might be a critical error. Winston is on his way to a 5000-yard passing season and I have a feeling that head coach Bruce Arians is going to make sure he gets there. I am thinking Winston throws 40-plus times this game and Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson are more than capable of beating the Lions' secondary. Look for Winston to throw for at least 300 yards in this matchup with 2-3 TDs.

Baker Mayfield, Browns—Admittedly, I have had this game circled on my calendar for weeks. I fully bought into the Baker Mayfield Experience from the get-go and it’s been a rocky ride, to say the least. This week he draws the Cardinals, who have allowed the most points to opposing quarterbacks. Add to the fact that the Cardinals play at a breakneck pace, and we have all the makings of a great game for Mayfield.

Sit:

Mitch Trubisky, Bears—Trubisky has been on fire for the past two weeks, throwing for 582 yards and six TDs with only two INTs. I was especially impressed with the way Trubisky rushed the ball confidently against the Dallas defense, which gave him plenty of room to run. Even though Trubisky’s confidence seems palpable, I think he might be in for a letdown against a Packers defense that loves to blitz. Look for Trubisky to be pressured all game long and for the Packers' secondary to make a couple of timely INTs.

Running Backs

Start:

Patrick Laird, Dolphins—Laird has emerged as a late-season fantasy threat, especially in PPR formats. In Week 14 against the Jets, he had 19 touches, including 48 yards rushing and another 38 yards receiving. In Week 15 the Dolphins play the New York Giants in a battle of two teams who most likely would prefer to lose to enhance their 2020 draft position. Look for Laird to once again get 15-20 touches, which could be way more valuable this week against the soft Giants defense than it was against the Jets' No. 2 ranked rush defense. Laird is what I like to call a sneaky start—and one who might pay huge dividends to fantasy owners.

DeAndre Washington, Raiders—I am basing this selection on the thought that the Raiders will shut down starting RB Josh Jacobs with a shoulder injury. Jacobs was inactive in Week 14, and with the Raiders out of the playoff hunt, it makes little sense to risk their star player in a meaningless game. Washington should get the opportunity to be the first- and second-down running back against a Jaguars defense which has obviously quit on its coach. Washington will split carries with Jalen Richard, but if there is a TD to be scored, Washington will have the best chance to get it.

Sit:

Bo Scarbrough, Lions—Are you going to the Scarbrough Fair? It won’t be this week, as the Bucs run defense is nothing short of staunch. They completely shut down Marlon Mack and the Colts, who love to run the ball. The Lions will give Scarbrough 10-15 carries, even if he is not producing, but I still don’t see a pathway for him to have fantasy success.

Wide Receivers

Start:

Terry McLaurin, Redskins—I have had a good knack of knowing all season long when McLaurin was going to have a good game and when he was going to be shut down. Week 15 absolutely feels like a McLaurin week, and I highly suggest that fantasy owners get him into their lineups. The Eagles struggled on Monday night covering Giants speedy WR Darius Slayton, who beat them repeatedly for big plays and had two TDs. McLaurin is a faster version of Slayton with better hands, thereby making him an excellent start.

Chris Conley, Jaguars—The Raiders have been generous to wide receivers all season (they are the sixth-worst team when it comes to covering opposing wide receivers) and Conley should step right into the starting lineup with D.J. Chark out with a foot injury. Conley is not a very flashy receiver, but he has good hands and runs fairly crisp routes. I think he has an outside chance for a surprise 100-yard outing in Week 15.

Sit:

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers—Both the Steelers and fantasy owners alike are excited to see JuJu back after missing the last three games with a knee injury. As of right now, JuJu is expected to play against the Bills, but I am worried about his production for multiple reasons. Firstly, he has had little time to gel with QB Duck Hodges. Secondly, WRs Diontae Johnson and James Washington have stepped up in his absence, which means that there will be fewer targets to go around. Finally, the Bills will most likely cover JuJu with CB Tre’Davious White, who is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. There will be plenty of weeks to start JuJu in fantasy football; Week 15 just doesn’t seem like a good one.

Tight Ends

Start:

David Njoku, Browns—Fantasy owners were crushed last week as Vance McDonald got a concussion and had to leave the game against the Cardinals. This week the Cardinals (who are still the worst team in the league at covering opposing tight ends) play the Browns, who activated Njoku off IR last week. Njoku has always been a good red zone player and it seems likely that he will find paydirt this week—so long as he can avoid McDonald’s fate.

Ian Thomas, Panthers—I have a feeling that the Seahawks' lack of success in covering the tight end has been overlooked, but that is something that fantasy owners can take advantage of this week. Rams TE Tyler Higbee had seven catches for 116 yards against this defense, and I am hoping that Thomas follows suit with a similar week. With the Panthers' season winding down and the team failing to make the playoffs, Thomas should get every opportunity to show that he can take over for Greg Olsen and be next season’s starter.

Sit:

Ryan Griffin, Jets—Griffin is dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered early in the game against the Dolphins. If he miraculously ends up playing against the Ravens, he has an awful matchup as Baltimore is the best team in the NFL at covering opposing tight ends. Look elsewhere for your tight end points.

More Advice From SI Fantasy

— Week 15 PPR Rankings from FullTime Fantasy: QB, RB, WR, TE

— Frankie Taddeo’s Week 15 streaming options: Darius Slayton, Jimmy G and more

— Jaime Eisner’s stock watch on the players trending up and down

— Jaime Eisner’s waiver wire, in case any of them are still available

— Mark Deming’s Target and Snap Report combs through the data for fantasy nuggets