Week 15: Starts/Sits – Jamie Zadow

What a weekend it was in the NFL with some crazy finishes and none better than the end to the AFC North clash between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal was enough to push the Steelers past the pesky Ravens and likely contributed to putting you over the top in your fantasy football playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown combined for 100.54 points in PPR scoring — talk about blowing the doors off the defense. Big Ben defied all logic based on his previous matchups with the stingy Ravens defense and threw for more than 500 yards and putting a dent in my sits column last week. But, the show must go on and it’s time for a bounce back in Week 15 as we get you set for your fantasy league semi-finals.

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (START)

DraftKings – $7,200 / Fanduel – $8,300

Is anyone in the league hotter than the Chargers right now? No. They are 7-2 since starting the year 0-4 and looking to defy history as only the second team ever to make the NFL playoffs following that disastrous start (ironically the 1992 San Diego Chargers were the last and finished 11-5). Rivers is on a role as of late with at least 300 passing yards in three straight games and at least 20 fantasy points in two of those three matchups. He now travels to Arrowhead Stadium with the AFC West lead on the line to play a Kansas City Chiefs defense giving up the 7th-most FP/G to opposing QB’s.

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (SIT)

DraftKings – $4,700 / Fanduel – $7,100

Dalton was a nightmare at home last week to the Chicago Bears (who were struggling coming into the game defensively) and put up a line of 14/29, TD and INT — that’s not getting it done in your playoffs. He now hits the road to Minnesota and has a really tough matchup with a Vikings defense giving up the 5th-fewest FP/G to opposing QB’s. Lost in all of this is the fact that Vikings HC Mike Zimmer served as defensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2008-2014 and may factor into exploiting Dalton’s weaknesses this week.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (START)

DraftKings – $6,200 / Fanduel – $7,000

Something has been missing in this Falcons offense since Kyle Shanahan left for the San Francisco 49ers head coaching job. Matt Ryan has struggled, especially over the last two weeks, and it culminated in three interceptions at home last Thursday. The Falcons really need to get this run game going and this could be a perfect spot on Monday night for Freeman to flourish. With questions about Tevin Coleman’s health (he’s in the concussion protocol), Freeman could be the bell cow back this week against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense giving up the 9th-most FP/G to opposing RB’s. The upside is there with the potential for heavy volume and the Falcons could look to lessen the burden on Ryan and implement a run game that was so vital to their success last season.

Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers (SIT)

DraftKings – $5,500 / Fanduel – $6,900

Despite his success last week in a tough spot against one of the premiere rush defenses in Houston — 14 carries for 78 yards and a TD — I’m steering clear of Hyde this week. If there is one thing the Tennessee Titans do well on defense, it’s stopping the run. The Titans are yielding the 6th-fewest FP/G to opposing RB’s, 5th-fewest RUSH YDS/G and tied with the New England Patriots in surrendering an NFL-best five RUSH TD’s this year. The Titans have played their share of low scoring games in recent weeks and this could be another stinker on the West Coast come Sunday.

Westbrook
Dede Westbrook has averaged 5.5 catches, 9 targets, 79.5 receiving yards and scored a touchdown in his last two games. (Photo Credit: Brett Davis / USA TODAY Sports)

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (START)

DraftKings – $5,100 / Fanduel – $5,700

There seems to be rapport building between Blake Bortles and Westbrook as the rookie has at least five catches and averaged nine targets in three straight games. The Houston Texans are an absolute misery on defense right now (thanks in large part to a pair of big injuries to Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt). They’ve given up the 4th-most FP/G to opposing WR’s and 13 receiving TD’s this season. Play Westbrook with confidence as he could be making the case for the Jaguars’ WR1 in place of Marqise Lee as the season closes out.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns (SIT)

DraftKings – $6,800 / Fanduel – $7,500

How could you possibly steer clear of Gordon after his performances in back-to-back weeks? Well, it’s easy. Contrary to the events of Sunday nights game, the Ravens are still a premiere pass defense in the NFL and have given up the 4th-fewest TD’s to WR’s (14) and 4th-fewest FP/G to opposing WR’s this year. Yes, Antonio Brown took the Ravens to school on Sunday night, but the Browns are not the Steelers and have fewer offensive weapons. I expect the Ravens to blanket Gordon with double team coverage all game long and limit his space in the open field. Plus, DeShone Kizer has been known to be a turnover machine and this Ravens defense leads the league with 20 INT’s.

Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (START)

DraftKings – $5,200 / Fanduel – $5,200

Well, would you look at that? Doyle is the exact same price on DraftKings as he is on Fanduel this week (great minds think alike). This is a great matchup for the Colts’ TE against a Denver Broncos defense tied with the Browns in giving up the 3rd-most FP/G to opposing TE’s. The Broncos have also surrendered the 3rd-most TD’s (8) and are yielding 63. 2 REC YDS/G to TE’s (3rd-most in NFL). As you can see there’s a pattern developing with the number three when it comes to the Broncos and Doyle will surely look to take advantage of their poor performances against the position.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (SIT)

DraftKings – $3,200 / Fanduel – $5,200

If Hooper is your starting option in fantasy this week and you’re thinking about pulling the trigger…DON’T! He’s been virtually non-existent for quite some time now, not having a double-digit fantasy performance since Week 10 against the Dallas Cowboys. And, despite their struggles against the passing game, the Bucs defense has been pretty good against opposing TE’s — allowing the 4th-fewest FP/G and just 3 TD’s all year. It’s not a dream scenario for Hooper on Monday night.

 

 

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