Start’em & Sit’em Week 15

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Welcome to your weekly start or sit column. Before we proceed, let me tell you that this article is NOT here to state the obvious. I will not ever recommend you start Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. The fact is you should like your fantasy football live under the following mantra: START YOUR STUDS!! If you need me to tell you to start your studs, you need a lot more help than this column will provide.

There may be some rare occasions where I might possibly suggest you sit a top-level player simply based on the match up. I’ve done similar things in the past for WR’s scheduled to be on Revis Island. That all being said, if you don’t see your player named on the start list, that doesn’t mean it’s a suggestion you sit him. If you don’t see your player named on the sit list, that doesn’t mean you should start him. For any lineup questions you should visit the FFLockerroom forums and one of our staff of experts will address your specific question. With all that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Quarterback

Start ‘em

Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CIN) – I made the mistake of suggesting you sit Big Ben last week. Not doing that again. He’s scored 20 points or more in five of his last six games and some of those were against some awfully good pass defenses. Roethlisberger struggled with Cincinnati in Week 2 but that was a very different Bengals defense. Without Leon Hall and Terence Newman, we just saw Andrew Luck blast this defense for a 40. Start Big Ben.

Nick Foles (at MIN) – Foles has simply been too hot to sit. This week he draws a dreadful Minnesota pass defense that has allowed all but two opposing quarterbacks to score 22 fantasy points or more. This week Minnesota will also be without cornerback Xavier Rhodes. A weak pass defense now even missing a starter? Does it get any better than this? Yes, the game is indoors so there’s zero weather concerns.

Matt Ryan (vs. WAS) – Don’t look now but Ryan has actually been somewhat serviceable recently. Is it a coincidence that it happens right when Roddy White returns to form? I think not. Four of the last seven quarterbacks to play Washington have scored 21 or more fantasy points. The Skins are in complete disarray as they’ve shut down Robert Griffin III and it’s just a matter of when Head Coach Mike Shanahan gets fired. Start everyone against turmoil.

Matt Flynn (at DAL) – The Cowboys pass defense is absolutely dreadful giving up almost 300 yards per game net.  They gave given up 26 passing touchdowns and were absolutely torched last week by Josh McCown. Not only that, they had the Monday night game so they had less time to prepare for this week’s tilt. No, Matt Flynn isn’t a star. He’s not even Josh McCown. But it’s become apparent you don’t need to be a star to beat up this Cowboys defense.

Sit ‘em

Eli Manning (vs. SEA) – I’m done with Eli. I’d no longer suggest even starting him against Minnesota, Dallas or Washington. Since this week’s opponent is Seattle, I’ll just stop typing now.

Joe Flacco (at DET) – I guess I just don’t see what the Ravens and their fans see. Flacco has already thrown 17 interceptions this season and has only four games with 20 fantasy points. Detroit has a terrific defensive line so Flacco should face heavy pressure all day. In fact, there might even be the concern that Dennis Pitta should stay in and block more often. You can’t take a weapon away from a somewhat weaponless offense.

Carson Palmer (at TEN) – Only Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub have eclipsed the 20 point barrier against Alterraun Verner and company this season. Palmer has a bad elbow combined with a tough match up so I’d steer clear of him this week.

Running Back

Start ‘em

Shane Vereen (at MIA) – The best and most talented player in the New England backfield, I will recommend him regardless of who’s officially starting at running back. Last week Vereen had 12 catches for 153 yards and a rushing touchdown. With Gronkowski done for the season look for Vereen’s role in the passing game to grow. Vereen should top 100 total yards just about every week and if he adds a score that’s just icing on the cake.

Toby Gerhart (vs. PHI) – Assuming Gerhart is ready to tote the rock this weekend I’m recommending you use him. The Vikings offense is built around the running game and that shouldn’t change this weekend. Philadelphia has been a high-powered offense of late so ball control might be the Vikings only chance to keep this game close. That means a heavy workload for Gerhart.

Chris Ogbonnaya (vs. CHI) – You can basically start any running back against the Bears defense. The Bears are 32nd in the league allowing 157 yards per game on the ground. That’s 21 yards more than anyone else. They are terrible and Ogbonnaya might put up a surprising total this week.

Rashard Mendenhall (at TEN) – As good as Tennessee’s pass defense is that’s how bad their run defense is.  The Titans are 20th in the league allowing 117.1 yards per game on the ground but more importantly, they’ve allowed 18 touchdowns. That’s what Mendenhall has been doing lately. Put the two together and you have a nice match.

Sit ‘em

Chris Ivory (at CAR) – Ivory is coming off a nice Week 13 but runs into a stout Panthers defense for Week 14. The Panthers have only allowed three rushing touchdowns. Don’t be fooled by Geno Smith’s performance against a weak Oakland defense last week. The Panthers can focus on stopping the run while also destroying Smith. Not a good match up.

Darren Sproles (at STL) – Sproles is a Jekyll and Hyde type of player and he mostly does well at home. Sproles hasn’t rushed for more than 40 yards all season so he’s completely dependent on his statistics as a receiver. Pierre Thomas has been doing the heavy lifting and has actually been quite involved in the passing game. Both those factors cause me to sit Sproles.

Ray Rice (at DET) – I have to admit I’m torn on this one. Rice looked solid last week with over 100 total yards. Forgetting last week’s snow-bowl Detroit has crushed the stats of guys like Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy, two running backs with greater skill and success than Rice has shown this season. It’s tough to bench Rice on the upswing but consider it if you have other options. 

Wide Receivers

Start ‘em

Dez Bryant (vs. GB) – Even when he stinks he manages to find the end zone and salvage something out of his day. This week he gets a Packers team that has allowed 17 touchdowns to wide receivers and you just know Dez has been in Romo’s ear all week. I haven’t heard anything publicly about him being the “squeaky wheel” but when has Bryant ever been known to be shy. Look for a breakout game this week.

Jordy Nelson (at DAL) – The Cowboys are giving up almost 300 net yards per game through the air. I know this isn’t the Aaron Rodgers led Packers but Nelson is still the top option in a passing game that has a juicy match up. Dallas has nobody that can contend with him so he should be open all day long.

Riley Cooper (at MIN) – I like Foles and I’ll continue to like Cooper. Last week, even in the snow, Cooper had 10 targets which shows you just how much Foles likes and trusts him. Minnesota is a very vulnerable secondary and even more so down their best cornerback. Cooper is probably looking at 100 and a touchdown this week.

Julian Edelman (at MIA) – Another one of the beneficiaries with Gronkowski out. Edelman has been extremely solid the last three weeks and he’s going to have to continue that production if they are going to beat up Miami this week. In the last three weeks Edelman has been targeted 32 times and has two 100-yard games. Ride the wave.

Sit ‘em

Victor Cruz (vs. SEA) – This time of year it’s awfully tough to bench the guy you drafted to be your #1 wide receiver but I think that’s the wise move. It’s been quite some time since Cruz performed like a #1 receiver and Eli is in the midst of his worst season since he was a rookie. Now faced with the brutal Seahawks defense is see no reason why Cruz suddenly comes out and performs well. They will focus on shutting him down. Maybe you should too.

Vincent Jackson (vs. SF) – Another big name receiver on the sit list but San Francisco is in the top 4 in terms of passing yards allowed per game. Adding to that is the fact that Jackson is just plain cold. In his last three games he’s only been targeted 16 times and caught only 8 passes. Tampa Bay has turned into a running team with Bobby Rainey toting the rock. The 49ers will focus their attention on Jackson so he could be in for another cold one.

T.Y. Hilton (vs. HOU) – The Texans still rank #2 in the league in terms of yards passing allowed per game. Hilton hasn’t topped 46 yards since Week 10. Even last week when Andrew Luck was blowing up he was looking at Da’Rick Rodgers and LeVon Brazill as teams focus on taking away Hilton. That might not change much this week.

Tavon Austin (vs. NO) – While New Orleans is one of the better defenses in the league in defending the pass, they are so much better at home than on the road. That being said, it’s another indoor dome game, which is where they excel. Austin has only 73 yards receiving in total the last three games. Basically, if he doesn’t score on some trick end around you could be looking at a stinker. In addition, he’s nursing an ankle injury (bad for a guy who relies on speed) and might not even suit up for the game.

Tight Ends

Start ‘em

Garrett Graham (at IND) – Back in Week 9 Graham caught 4 passes for 46 yards against the Colts. Since then he’s gotten even more involved in the offense and I look for him to improve upon that performance. Indianapolis is a vulnerable defense that will focus its attention on Andre Johnson. That should leave plenty of chances for Graham. I actually think he’ll score this week on top of a nice yardage total.

Cameron Jordan (vs. CHI) – Last week I went out on a limb and recommended Jordan and hopefully you listened because it paid off big-time. This week he’s back on my good side again. The Bears defense is just plain terrible in every way. In four of the last five games a tight end has either scored a touchdown or reached 60 yards receiving. Josh Gordon is such an absolute beast that Jordan should once again have the middle of the field all to himself. Jason Campbell will continue to look for Jordan.

Sit ‘em

Heath Miller (vs. CIN) – I’ve often touted Miller as an important cog in the Steelers passing game but thus far, he hasn’t done much this year. It seems Roethlisberger is using Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery very often on short routes that used to be Miller’s domain. Miller only has 1 touchdown and zero weeks with double-digit fantasy points. Tough to trust him here.

Jared Cook (vs. NO) – I had Cook here last week and quite frankly, I could have put him here every week after Week 1 and I’d have been a genius all but once. New Orleans has only allowed 4 touchdowns to tight ends with only two reaching double digits in fantasy points. Cook has been a bust so there’s no reason to dust him off for this week’s game.

Defenses

Start ‘em

Saints (at STL) – I said it earlier in this piece about how much better at home the Saints team is. Well again, this is an indoor match up. The Saints have scored double-digit fantasy points in every indoor game and that includes a road game at Atlanta. Sure, Atlanta’s offense isn’t great but are you going to tell me that the Rams offense is just a hair below the Broncos? The Rams just allowed over 20 points to the Cardinals defense so I’m sticking with the Saints in this game, especially if Austin is out.

Jaguars (vs. BUF) – I’m almost surprising myself that I’m typing this but the Jaguars have won three in a row and four of their last five games. In two of those games that Jaguars defense was good for double-digit fantasy points. I don’t see too many weapons on this Buffalo team so call it a hunch but if you’re in a bind, the Jaguars might not be a bad streaming option.

Sit ‘em

Ravens (at DET) – The Lions are a very talented offensive team and the Ravens defense is struggling. They have zero sacks in the last two games and if you give Matthew Stafford time he will pick you apart. If it wasn’t for Jacoby Jones and the return game, this Ravens defense would be dreadful lately having been eaten up the Steelers and Vikings. Detroit’s offense is better than both of those two.

Sorry folks, I just don’t do kickers. You’re on your own there.

See ya next week.