It’s Week 15, and that means it is likely fantasy playoffs semifinals week in most standard head-to-head formats. While that is very important, it pales in comparison to the awful news which came out of Connecticut Friday morning. Prayers and condolences to anyone affected by this terrible tragedy. As a father of two little boys, my world would be shattered forever if something terrible like this ever touched their/our lives. Before you set your fantasy lineup, if you have children, go give them a big, fat hug and a kiss, even if they are teenagers and push you away in embarrassment. If you don’t have children, say a prayer and hope something this awful never happens again. Now, back to your regular scheduled programming.
Good luck in Week 15, and lots of luck hoisting that championship trophy!
Quarterback – surprise start of the week
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (at NO): Ride Josh Freeman to a potential spot in the championship game in fantasy? What, what? With a matchup against the Saints in the Superdome, Freeman should find plenty of open spaces. The Saints rank 30th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 284.5 yards per game through the air. In the first meeting, Freeman went for 420 yards with three touchdown passes back in Week 7 in a 35-28 setback at home. Look for Freeman to spray the ball around to his solid WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, as well as TE Dallas Clark, for another big statistical day.
Other surprise plays: Chad Henne, Jacksonville (at MIA), Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (at NE), Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (vs. WAS)
Quarterback – sit of the week
Tom Brady, New England (vs. SF): Brady is going to make a lot of his fantasy owners sad on Sunday Night Football. The 49ers rank second in the NFL against the pass, allowing just 184.7 yards per game through the air with 13 passing touchdowns in 13 games. Brady might pass for something like 200-225 yards and a score, but his numbers will not be fantasy championship caliber this weekend. Still, if your alternative is someone like Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker, you’ll want to roll with Brady. But if you also have access to someone like Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton off your bench, or another alternative with a favorable matchup who is available off the waiver wire, you might have to make a very, very tough decision.
Other QBs to sit: Joe Flacco, Baltimore (vs. DEN), Jake Locker, Tennessee (vs. NYJ), Christian Ponder, Minnesota (at STL)
Reggie Bush, Miami (vs. JAC): Bush entered the season with grandiose ideas of what we was and wasn’t going to do, including competing for the NFL’s rushing title. Well, that ship sailed early, but he has been fairly effective for some fantasy owners. However, even in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, he hasn’t been his normal, useful self. However, if you’re still alive despite Bush, he should make for a fabulous RB2 or ‘flex’ play this weekend against the league’s 31st ranked rushing defense. The Jaguars allow 145.7 yards per game on the ground, and they have yielded an NFL-high tying 18 rushing scores. Seeing Bush post his second 100-yard game of the season and get into the end zone would not be a huge surprise.
Other surprise plays: Joique Bell, Detroit (at ARI), Chris Johnson, Tennessee (vs. NYJ – Mon.), Knowshon Moreno, Denver (at BAL)
Running back – sit of the week
DeMarco Murray, Dallas (vs. PIT): The Steelers rushing defense has allowed just 93.2 yards per game on the ground this season, ranking fifth overall in the NFL. They have been dinged for eight rushing scores, so if Murray has any measure of fantasy success, it will be because he somehow got into the end zone. His yardage total will not be anything to write home about, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him average about three yards per carry on 15-20 carries.
Other RBs to sit: Frank Gore, San Francisco (at NE), Trent Richardson, Cleveland (vs. WAS), Stevan Ridley, New England (vs. SF)
Wide receiver – surprise start of the week
Josh Gordon, Cleveland (vs. WAS): The Redskins passing defense hasn’t been as awful as it was in the beginning of the season, but if Washington doesn’t make the playoffs this season, their secondary is a major reason why. The Redskins have given up 289.3 yards per game through the air, 31st in the NFL. They have also given up 27 passing scores, which is tied for worst in the league. Gordon should have a field day against this ‘Skins patchwork secondary. The last time Gordon faced a similarly poor pass defense, the Oakland Raiders in Week 13, he shredded them for 116 yards and a score. Expect more of the same in this one.
Other surprise plays: Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City (at OAK), Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville (at MIA), Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (at NO)
Wide receiver- sit of the week
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo (vs. SEA): The good news is that Johnson, who was battling a hamstring injury previously, is no longer listed on the team’s injury report. The bad news is that he will still be facing a Seattle pass defense which ranks fourth in the NFL, allowing just 196.3 yards per game through the air. In addition, the Seahawks are first in the NFL in passing touchdowns allowed with 12. Even if Johnson is able to somehow amass a respectable yardage total, it’s unlikely he gets into the end zone. If you have comparable fantasy options with better matchups, use them.
Other WRs to sit: Greg Jennings, Green Bay (at CHI), Brandon Lloyd, New England (vs. SF), Torrey Smith, Baltimore (vs. DEN)
Tight end – surprise start of the week: Dennis Pitta, Baltimore (vs. DEN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay (at NO), Benjamin Watson, Cleveland (vs. WAS)
Sit of the week: Scott Chandler, Buffalo (vs. SEA)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay (at CHI), Brandon Myers, Oakland (vs. KC)
Kicker – surprise start of the week: Ryan Succop, Kansas City (at OAK)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Connor Barth, Tampa Bay (at NO)
Sit of the week: Mason Crosby, Green Bay (at CHI)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis (at HOU)
Defense/special teams – surprise start of the week: Lions DST (at ARI)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Raiders DST (vs. KC), Titans DST (vs. NYJ – Mon.)
DST sit of the week: Buccaneers DST (at NO)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: 49ers DST (at NE), Saints DST (vs. TB)