Start or Sit These Players in Week 15 to Win Your Playoff Matchup.
Welcome everyone to Week 15 of the 2021 fantasy football schedule. If you are reading this, you are in the playoffs in your Fantasy League, congratulations. Making the playoffs is a significant accomplishment. You have successfully navigated bye weeks and injuries all season long to get here, and your next step is to win your Championship.
I am here to do what I can to help you find viable starters with my start/sit recommendations for Week 15. The goal is to aid you in setting the best roster possible and to assist you with your tough decisions this week. I have been here each and every week this season, giving you my “Start of the Week” along with two “Start” recommendations and two “Sit” recommendations at each skilled player position. So without further ado, let’s take the first step towards your Week 15 victory.
Covid-19 is running rampant throughout the league this week with over 80 players currently placed on the Covid-19 list. I will do my best to keep this article up to date should any further additions to the list impact the players listed below.
1. Start of the Week
Diontae Johnson – Pittsburgh Steelers
Sully’s Rank: WR4
Last week the “Start of the Week” was Denver Broncos RB Javonte Williams. Williams delivered as advertised posting 20.3 PPR points and a RB7 finish. Combined with Week 13s SOTW Elijah Mitchell, and his RB13 finish, we are heating up at the perfect time .
In Week 15 the Start of the Week, is Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson. During the course of the 2021 NFL season, Johnson has totaled 139.3 points in 12 games played and he enters Week 15 as the WR9 in PPR scoring. Diontae has been one of the most consistent fantasy producers this season, topping 10.00 points in all twelve of his outings. His weekly average of 11.6 points a game ranks 8th best among WRs that have played a minimum twelve games this season.
In Week 15 Diontae Johnson and the Steelers host the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans. Thru 13 games this season the Titans have allowed, 2,633 yards and 16 touchdowns to the opponents WRs. The 44 PPR points they allow weekly ranks dead last in the NFL. The Steelers are the third most pass heavy team in the league and Johnson has seen a 26% target share from his quarterbacks this season, and has hauled in 62.3% of his 130 targets. Johnson is the ideal fantasy asset in the playoffs, he possesses a safe floor and combines that with WR1 overall upside. Start DJ with confidence in Week 15.
Matthew Stafford – Los Angeles Rams
Sully’s Rank: QB9
We had Matthew Stafford as a start in Week 14, and he delivered. Stafford posted 23.48 points and a QB7 finish. As a result of his solid Week 14, Stafford now sits at QB4 entering Week 15.
The Rams faces the Seattle Seahawks this week, in a matchup that should be favorable to the Rams QB. On the season, Seattle has given up 3,707 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Seattle enters the week as the 10th best fantasy defense against the QB this season. They are giving up an average of 18 fantasy points to the position thru 13 games. I like Stafford to exceed that total this week and finish in the low to mid 20s.
Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings
Sully’s Rank: QB12
Kirk Cousins has been a bit of a roller-coaster of a fantasy QB in recent weeks. He has scored fewer than 16 fantasy points in two of his last three games, pushing his weekly average under 20 points on the season, (19.74). Adding to the fun is Cousin’s lifetime 1-9 record as a starter on Monday Night Football.
Despite the inconsistencies of late and the nightmare of a Monday Night record, I am still comfortable stating Cousins against the Chicago Bears in Week 15. The Bears have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks since Week 9, and overall six QBs have put up at least 23-plus fantasy points this season. That lone Monday Night victory by the way, came a season ago in Chicago.
Taylor Heinicke – Washington Football Team
Sully’s Rank: QB21
Taylor Heinicke, has gone over 20 fantasy points twice since Week 5, and has averaged just 15.12 points a game since the WFTs Week 9 bye. This week the Football Team faces an Eagle’s defense that gives up on average 18.6 points a week to the QB, (16th best).
Adding to the complexity here, is the fact that the Eagles are fresh off a bye and two weeks of preparation for Washington, and Heinicke is banged up. Backup QB Kyle Allen is on the Covid list along with several other members of the Football Team. At full health with all his weapons available, I would shy away from Taylor Heinicke this week. Under these circumstances I am running in the opposite direction.
Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Sully’s Rank: QB26
Rostering a QB that is part of a QB controversy is a tricky business. What makes the Carolina situation as fun as eating glass is that this is more a QB committee than it is a controversy. Over the last two weeks, Cam Newton and P.J. Walker have both seen snaps under center.
The reason there is a committee approach here is neither QB is overly good or effective. The two QBs combined have totaled 20.32 points in week’s 13 & 14. In addition Carolina has designated QB Sam Darnold to return from injured reserve. Regardless of how you feel about Darnold, he is the best QB they have. Sit Cam in your fantasy playoffs this week, he is too hard to trust.
3. Running Backs
Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns
Sully’s Rank: RB5
Covid-19 has hit the Browns organization hard this week. Cleveland has 7 players on the Covid-19 list including QBs Baker Mayfield, and Case Keenum. Also on the Covid list is Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. In addition to Covid-19 messing with the Browns, they are dealing with some significant injuries as well, most notably RB Kareem Hunt. One member of the team that is healthy that I really like this week is RB Nick Chubb.
Nick Chubb hasn’t been great of late. Since the start of week 12, Chubb has totaled 15.40 PPR points in two games played. Chubb is RB19 on the season (in only 10 games), but is RB49 the past three weeks. When looking at the Browns situation with Nick Mullins under center and Kareem Hunt out of the lineup, it places Chubb into must start territory. In addition the matchup is excellent. The Raiders are the third worst fantasy defense against the RB this season allowing 29.2 points per game. Taking everything into consideration, Chubb should be a top-five performer in Week 15.
James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
Sully’s Rank: RB20
From one RB that has struggled to another. Enter Jaguars RB James Robinson. Robinson has battled injury and horrible usage the past three weeks on route 15.40 PPR points. J-Rob is RB21 on the season, (in 12 games), and like Nick Chubb he has been RB49 the past three weeks.
Late Wednesday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars terminated Head Coach Urban Meyer. This move helps all involved in Jacksonville, with the biggest boost likely going to Robinson. First of all he has a great matchup. Jacksonville face the Houston Texans this week, and in the process face a defense that has allowed 17 total touchdowns and the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. Robinson should see increased usage with Meyer out of the picture and as a result should be able to give you a RB2 floor with a ceiling of RB1. Robison is a solid start in Week 15.
Ezekiel Elliott- Dallas Cowboys
Sully’s Rank: RB27
I really never thought I would get to the point where I would consider benching Ezekiel Elliott, let alone suggesting you do the same, but here we are. Simply put Zeke is not healthy and as a result we saw him lose touches to Corey Clement last week. In Week 15 his disappointing usage should continue. In the last three weeks, Elliott has seen his touch share drop below 30%.
On paper the matchup this week against the New York Giants is a good one. The Giants are the 8th worst fantasy defense against opposing backs on the season. That said I can’t trust a hobbled Elliott in the most important week of the season. I absolutely understand that the vast majority of Elliott managers are starting him and have little choice this week. If you have options I recommend you take them. Always start your studs is solid advice, until your studs are no longer studs.
AJ Dillon – Green Bay Packers
Sully’s Rank: RB26
A.J. Dillon led the Packers backfield in snaps and touches last week, but he didn’t score or see a single target with Aaron Jones at 100%. Jones also outscored him 21.5 to 7.1 in a win over the Bears. While Dillon’s usage as a runner was encouraging, his lack of chances as a receiver were not. He also has a tough matchup against the Ravens next on the slate, so he’s a risk-reward flex. For what it’s worth I am not overly confident in Aaron jones this week either. The landscape of the position means you are almost certainly starting both Packers backs this week. If you can get away from them, I would, and if you can’t I would temper your expectations.
4. Wide Receiver
Hunter Renfrow – Las Vegas Raiders
Sully’s Rank: WR12
Hunter Renfrow has become one of the most consistent fantasy WR options in the league this season, especially in PPR formats. Renfrow enters the Week as WR13 in PPR scoring and has posted double digit fantasy results every week expect for Week 6. Of the top-13 WRs this season, Renfrow in one of 6 to have one or fewer single digit fantasy weeks.
Since TE Darren Waller went down early on thanksgiving Day, Renfrow has see his target volume spike. He saw nine targets on Thanksgiving Day, followed by 10 targets in Week 13, and another 14 in Week 14. In the last three weeks, Renfrow has turned those targets into 30 receptions, 353 yards, and one touchdown. The WR13 on the season is WR2 trailing only Cooper Kupp since Waller went down. The Browns are the 11th best defense against the WR this season giving up 33.2 points per game. On volume alone, I expect Renfrow to be a top-12 WR again this week, and as a result I will start him with confidence.
Van Jefferson – Los Angeles Rams
Sully’s Rank: WR21
Van Jefferson has become a nice asset in fantasy leagues, scoring 14-plus points in three straight games while being targeted a combined 20 times in that time. I am projecting Jefferson to deliver his fantasy managers a WR2 week this week, when it matters most. The Rams will be without Odell Beckham Jr. (COVID-19) when they face the Seahawks. Seattle gives up on average 32.2 points per game to the position. The Rams offense seems to be firing on all cylinders based off of last week’s performance and in this offense without OBJ, Jefferson appears to be a solid start.
Julio Jones – Tennessee Titans
Sully’s Rank: WR37
Julio Jones was back in action last week. In the process Julio played only 32 snaps and scored a lackluster 7.3 fantasy points against the Jaguars. He is not the same fantasy star he was in Atlanta, and I wouldn’t trust him in the most important week of the fantasy season. Tennessee face the Steelers in Week 15, who have not been great against wideouts overall but have been tougher against the position at home than they have on the road. Father time is undefeated and it appears he is about to claim victory over Julio Jones. He needs to stay on your bench this week if at all possible.
Courtland Sutton – Denver Broncos
Sully’s Rank: WR50
Sadly this has become a rather easy weekly call of late. Sitting Courtland Sutton is easy, and as I suggested last week, he can be easily dropped. Sutton’s fantasy production has fallen straight off the cliff since Jerry Jeudy retuned to the Broncos lineup. Sutton ranks outside of the top 100 WR in the last seven weeks. The reason for his drastic drop in production can be linked to his drop in targets. With Jeudy in the lineup, Sutton is seeing a 12% target share. This week’s matchup against the Bengals isn’t terrible, but it’s near impossible to use Sutton unless absolutely stuck.
5. Tight End
Dawson Knox – Buffalo Bills
Sully’s Rank: TE5
Dawson Knox doesn’t have a great matchup on paper this week, as the Bills host the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have allowed just one tight end to score more than 11.1 fantasy points against them this season, and have given up on average 11.5 points to the position a week, (11th best). Regardless I still like Knox and will be starting him this week. Knox has seen at least six targets, and has put up at least 14 fantasy points in three of his last four games. He’s also seen seven red-zone looks in those four contests. As long as Josh Allen starts, Knox has top-5 upside.
Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
Sully’s Rank: TE11
Dallas Goedert is another TE that doesn’t have the greatest matchup this week. Philadelphia faces the Washington Football team in a crucial divisional matchup this week. Washington on the season is the 12th best defense against the TE giving up on average 11.7 points per game. Since Week 9 they have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the TE. Goedert has also seen at least six targets in four of his last six games, and should Gardner Minshew get the start again this week I like Goedert even more.
Noah Fant – Denver Broncos
Sully’s Rank: TE16
Noah Fant has failed to score double digits in all but one of his last six games, and his targets have been limited to just four in four of his last five. Broncos TE Albert Okwuegbunam, who found the end zone last week against the Lions is becoming a problem for Fant and his fantasy managers. The Bengals are giving up an average of 13.4 points a week to the TE position, and that average was driven up dramatically by George Kittle’s 34 point Week 14. With the Broncos going with a split volume approach here, I would prefer to avoid both of their TEs this week.
Cole Kmet – Chicago Bears
Sully’s Rank: TE20
Cole Kmet took a step back in terms of his fantasy value last week, scoring 4.7 fantasy points against the Packers. Kmet has now failed to score more than 7.1 fantasy points in three of his last four games, and a matchup against the Vikings makes him a fade this week. Their defense is bad against wideouts, but it’s allowed just four touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2021. Cole Kmet remains a fantasy asset I covet in Dynasty. Outside of that format he shouldn’t be on a roster this time of year.
Thank you for reading Start or Sit These Players in Week 15 to Win Your Playoff Matchup.
For all your start/sit questions be sure to reach out to me on Twitter @RotoHeatSully.
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