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Week 15 Matchups - Fantasy Football Game Breakdowns (Part 1)


Welcome to our Week 15 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. We'll also be updating this as injury reports come in so check back often.

This article will cover the early slate of games, beginning at 1 PM ET on Sunday. Also, check out our Saturday matchupslate game matchups analysis and our MNF matchups analysis.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. Find me on Twitter @ChrisMangano for more insight and help to your start/sit questions.

Editor's Note: All you early birds can get a full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our Draft Kit, In-Season tools and over 150 days of Premium DFS. Sign Up Now!

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

We are on to the semifinals and there are nine games in the early slate. Set those lineups in time by analyzing each matchup below to gain the best advantage and advance to the next round!

 

Packers at Bears

Matchups We Love:

None

Matchups We Hate:

Trey Burton (TE, CHI)
Over the last three games, Burton has seen just 13 targets (12% share) and now faces a Packers defense giving up less than four catches and 45 yards to tight ends. Although not a must-sit this week, he's worth benching if you have a better option.

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)
In his first game without former head coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers threw for just 196 yards but did add two touchdowns. He must now contend with a Bears defense giving up just 240 yards and one touchdown per game to opposing quarterbacks, and who just shut down the Rams offense Sunday night. Rodgers is still a borderline QB1 but his ceiling is limited in this matchup.

Aaron Jones (RB, GB)
Jones continues to handle the bulk of the running back work for the Packers, turning 20 touches into 101 yards and a score in Week 14 against the Falcons. He faces a much tougher test this week, however, as the Bears defense is holding opposing backs to just 3.6 yards per carry and 71 yards per game. They held Todd Gurley to just 58 total yards Sunday night on 14 touches. Jones is still a top-15 option but expectations should be tempered.

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)
Graham is second on the team with 20 targets over the last three games, of course, 11 of those occurred in one game. He'll face a tough test against a Bears unit allowing less than four receptions per game and fewer than 40 yards to tight ends. Considering his lack of touchdowns he is a desperation play only and can be benched this week for better options.

Other Matchups:

Mitch Trubisky (QB, CHI)
Trubisky returned from injury and played...not well on Sunday night at home versus the Rams, throwing for 110 yards with only one touchdown and three interceptions. He should fare better this week against a Packers defense giving up 244 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game. He is a high-end QB2 start.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)
Adams has been one of, if not the most, consistent receivers in 2018. He has 32 targets and three touchdowns over the last three games. The Bears are a tough defense but they have given up yards to outside receivers, ninth most in the league in fact. Adams is a locked-in WR1 start.

Jordan Howard  / Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI)
Howard has 35 carries and 177 yards over the last two games as the Bears have played with the lead. Cohen, meanwhile, has 17 carries for 99 yards but also has 16 receptions for 176 yards over that stretch. The Packers are allowing 4.6 yards per carry and 100 yards on the ground, while also allowing four catches per game. Cohen is an upside RB2 play especially in PPR, while Howard is a low-end RB2 start.

Allen Robinson  / Taylor Gabriel (WR, CHI)
Over the last three games, Gabriel leads Robinson in targets 22 to 21 which rank second and third on the team. They should have an opportunity against a Packers secondary that is middle-of-the-pack but does allow almost 1.5 touchdowns per game. Both can be considered WR3 starts.

 

Lions at Bills

Matchups We Love:

None

Matchups We Hate:

Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)
Stafford is coming off an abysmal 101 yard, no touchdown game against the Cardinals and now must face a Bills secondary that holds opposing quarterbacks to just 200 yards and one touchdown per game. With Kenny Golladay likely to be locked up once again (see below), Stafford offers little hope and can be benched in all formats.

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)
Golladay got the Patrick Peterson treatment in Week 14 and was held to just two catches for five yards. Now he will face Tre'Davious White who has been one of the league's top corners this season. With no other weapon for the Bills to fear Golladay will likely be locked down again. We'd look elsewhere if possible.

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)
Allen's passing numbers have been below average, but he's posted 99 or more rushing yards in three straight games. He's also scored two rushing touchdowns over that span. The problem for players going to the well with Allen again is that quarterbacks have not had success running against the Lions defense. They've held Dak Prescott to two yards, Russell Wilson to 15 yards and Mitch Trubisky to 18 yards among others. Allen should see his rushing numbers drop significantly this week, and that means so will his fantasy value. He can't be trusted outside of two-quarterback leagues.

LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF)
Despite suffering a hamstring injury early in last week's game and missing most of the action, McCoy was back at practice Thursday and appears ready to suit up this week. Unfortunately what was once a dream matchup has been anything but since the Lions acquired stud run blocker, Damon Harrison. Over the last four games, only Todd Gurley managed more than four yards per carry against this defense as they've held Jordan Howard, Christian McCaffrey, and David Johnson to less than that. With the Bills offense likely to struggle McCoy is a desperation flex play only.

Zay Jones / Robert Foster (WR, BUF)
Since Kelvin Benjamin was traded, Jones leads the team with 17 targets (26% share) while Foster is second with 10 (16% share). Both are tough to trust this week as the Lions allow the eighth-fewest receptions to receivers. Both are deep league flex starts only.

Other Matchups:

LeGarrette Blount / Theo Riddick (RB, DET)
In the three games with Kerryon Johnson out of the lineup, Blount has seen 19, 16, and 12 carries. He hasn't done much with them, however, and hasn't scored since Thanksgiving. Riddick hasn't seen more than eight attempts over that span but does have 14 receptions. The Bills are middle-of-the-pack against running backs so the matchup isn't daunting. Both players have low upside in this offense, however, and are desperate plays only.

 

Buccaneers at Ravens

Matchups We Love:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)
Jackson has only thrown over 150 yards once (178) and has just three touchdown passes in his four starts, but he's run for 71 or more yards in each game and has two rushing touchdowns. He gets a great matchup against a Bucs defense giving up 285 yards and more than two touchdowns per game. While Jackson may not be asked to pass enough to take advantage of this, he could finally eclipse 200 yards and offers a safe floor with decent upside.

Matchups We Hate:

Jameis Winston (QB, TB)
Winston has been fantasy gold since being renamed the starter but faces a tough test against a Ravens defense holding opposing passers to just 225 yards and one touchdown. We know the Bucs will chuck it early and often which gives Winston a decent floor, but he doesn't have the upside we are used to this week.

Peyton Barber (RB, TB)
Barber has 48 carries over the last three games but has yet to top 50 rushing yards in any of them, though he does have two scores. He'll be impossible to trust this week, however, as the Ravens hold opposing running backs to just 3.4 yards per carry and 60 yards on the ground. He is a touchdown-dependent RB3 at best.

Mike Evans / Chris Godwin  / Adam Humphries (WR, TB)
Over the last three contests with DeSean Jackson sidelined, the Bucs targets breakdown is Humphries and Godwin 16, Evans just 12. Godwin did have 10 of those last week while catching only one pass. Still, Evans is not getting the target share we are accustomed to. The matchup isn't great either as the Ravens allow just 11 receptions and 130 yards to receivers. Humphries is a decent PPR flex option, while Godwin and Evans have to be considered WR3 plays.

Other Matchups:

Cameron Brate (TE, TB)
In the three games since O.J. Howard went on I.R., Brate has just eight catches for 74 yards but has miraculously scored three times. He gets a good matchup this week against the Ravens who allow the fourth most receptions but do keep tight ends out of the end zone. Given the state of the tight end position, however, Brate can still be considered a TE1.

Gus Edwards / Kenneth Dixon (RB, BAL)
In the two games since Dixon returned, Edwards has 21 and 16 carries while Dixon has eight in each. Dixon does have the lone score of the two and neither are really used in the passing game with just two catches between them. The Bucs do give up 4.6 yards per carry and 90 yards on the ground, so both should have chances. Edwards is the preferred play but Dixon could see more action. Edwards is a low-end RB2 while Dixon is a flex start.

Michael Crabtree / John Brown / Willie Snead (WR, BAL)
In Lamar Jackson's four starts Brown leads the team with 18 targets while Crabtree and Snead have 17 each. The problem is no receiver has more than 10 catches and Snead's 110 yards leads the group. Brown is basically useless as he has caught just four of his 18 targets. This is a great spot as the Bucs allow the seventh most receptions and 165 yards per game. But how can you really trust any of these guys in such an important matchup? Snead and Crabtree are playable only in very deep leagues while Brown is a complete hail mary start.

 

Cardinals at Falcons

Matchups We Love:

David Johnson (RB, ARI)
Johnson totaled just 61 yards on 23 touches in Week 14 but is in a great spot this week against a Falcons defense giving up 100 yards on the ground and over seven receptions to backs. While the offense holds him back a bit, this is about as good as it gets and he should be a top-10 option on the week.

Matchups We Hate:

Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)
Hooper ranks third on the team in targets and second in receptions over the last three games but must contend with a tough Cardinals defense holding opposing tight ends to just four catches and 40 yards per game. His usage keeps him in the TE1 discussion though he has a limited ceiling this week.

Other Matchups:

Josh Rosen (QB, ARI)
Rosen threw for 241 yards in Week 14 but has now gone two straight games without throwing a touchdown. That could change this week against a Falcons defense that gives up 267 yards and two touchdowns per game to quarterbacks. Rosen cannot be trusted in single quarterback leagues but makes a fine QB2 option.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)
In Week 14, with Christian Kirk on I.R., Fitzgerald led all Cardinals receivers with nine targets, catching five of them but managing just 55 yards. He should be heavily involved once again and gets a good matchup against a Falcons defense that struggles against slot receivers. He is an upside WR3 play.

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay last week, and coming back home should help him. He does draw a bit of a tough matchup as the Cardinals hold opposing passers to just 228 yards and one touchdown. Still, the Falcons always play much better at home and Ryan is a solid QB1 start.

Tevin Coleman / Ito Smith (RB, ATL)
Coleman saw double-digit carries (10) for the first time in four games but was still out-carried by Ito Smith (11). Smith also had three receptions to Coleman's one. This is a timeshare but Smith seems to be inching ahead. The Cardinals are giving up 124 yards on the ground so both could have chances. Coleman and Smith are fine flex start this week with the slight edge to Smith.

Julio Jones / Mohamed Sanu / Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)
Through the last three games, Jones predictably leads the team with 33 targets while Ridley has 22 and Sanu 16. Jones should see plenty of Patrick Peterson which should help both Ridley and Sanu. Despite the matchup, Jones remains a must-start, while Ridley is a WR3 and Sanu a flex.

 

Raiders at Bengals

Matchups We Love:

Derek Carr (QB, OAK)
Believe it or not, but Carr has been one of the hottest quarterbacks of late. With 607 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games, Carr has shown glimpses of his 2016 self. He gets a fantastic matchup this week against a Bengals defense giving up 280 yards and two touchdowns per game to passers. Carr is a fringe QB1 with upside and a great streaming option.

Doug Martin (RB, OAK)
Martin has 34 carries over the last two games but just 93 total yards, though he has scored in both. He should find much more success running this week against a Bengals defense giving up five yards per carry and 122 yards per game. There is a risk in starting Martin, but he is a solid RB2 play.

Jared Cook (TE, OAK)
Cook has back-to-back seven catch, 100-yard games, and gets a Bengals defense giving up the ninth most receptions and 60 yards per game. With the Raiders having little in the way of receiving weapons, Cook should once again be heavily involved and is an easy start at the position.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)
Mixon is coming off a monster 31 touch, 138 yards, one score game and should keep it rolling against a Raiders run defense giving up five yards per carry and 122 yards per game. He is a must-start at the position.

C.J. Uzomah (TE, CIN)
Uzomah is second on the Bengals in targets over the last three games with 21 and should get plenty of work once again facing a Raiders defense giving up the 11th most receptions and second most yards to tight ends. While he doesn't have a huge ceiling he offers a nice floor this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Tyler Boyd (WR, CIN)
Despite being terrible in just about every facet, the Raiders have done well against teams number one receivers. With no A.J. Green Boyd becomes the defacto number one against a Raiders secondary allowing the fewest receptions to the position. He can't be considered more than a WR3 in this matchup.

Other Matchups:

Jordy Nelson / Marcell Ateman / Seth Roberts (WR, OAK)
In the last three games Nelson leads the Raiders receivers with 19 targets while Ateman has 18 and Roberts 16. The Bengals are middle-of-the-pack against receivers but it's hard to trust any of them outside of very deep leagues. Play at your own risk.

Jeff Driskel (QB, CIN)
In Driskel's two starts this year, he has thrown for 406 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The Raiders are not an overly difficult matchup, but Driskel is hard to trust. He can't be started in any league outside of deep, two-quarterback leagues.

 

Titans at Giants

Matchups We Love:

Derrick Henry / Dion Lewis (RB, TEN)
By now we all know about Henry's out-of-nowhere 238 yards, four touchdown performance on Thursday night that included a 99-yard touchdown run. It was the first time all year Henry topped 58 yards. Lewis has taken a backseat to Henry in recent weeks, and Henry could once again have a good game against a Giants run defense that had allowed five straight 100 yard games before last week. Henry is an upside RB2 play while Lewis can't be considered more than a flex start.

Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, NYG)
Beckham was a surprise scratch last Saturday with a quad injury and is no guarantee to play this week, but if he does he draws a great matchup against a Titans secondary giving up the ninth most receptions and over 170 yards per game to receivers. If he plays he is a must-start. If he sits Sterling Shepard is worth a look in deep leagues though he caught only two passes for 17 yards with Beckham out last week, he did score for what it's worth.

UPDATE: Beckham has officially been ruled out.

Matchups We Hate:

Corey Davis (WR, TEN)
Davis has only caught more than five passes four times all year, and has just 11 catches over the last four games, though he does have two scores over that stretch. He faces a tough Giants secondary holding receivers to the 11th fewest receptions and just 150 yards per game. He can't be considered more than a low-end WR3 start.

Eli Manning (QB, NYG)
Manning hasn't thrown for over 200 yards in two straight games, but he has four touchdowns over that stretch. He now must face a tough Titans secondary giving up just 230 yards and one touchdown per game. Facing the possibility of being without Odell Beckham doesn't help. Manning should be benched if possible and is nothing more than a low-end QB2.

Other Matchups:

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)
After back-to-back two-touchdown games, Mariota wasn't asked to do much last Thursday as Derick Henry ran wild. He should be asked to do more this week and gets a Giants defense giving up 260 yards and 1.5 touchdowns through the air. Mariota doesn't have a huge ceiling in this one but he is a safe QB2.

Anthony Firkser (TE, TEN)
With Jonnu Smith headed to I.R., Firkser looks to take over pass-catching duties at the tight end position for the Titans. On the season he has caught all 16 of his targets for 210 yards and one touchdown. The Giants allow the 11th most receptions to tight ends and a near 80% completion rate. This is a tight-end friendly offense and he has sneaky upside this week.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)
With Odell Beckham out in Week 14, Barkley did everything for this team, racking up 197 total yards and a score. The Titans give up just 4.3 yards per carry but allow 90 yards on the ground and four catches through the air. Barkley is an every week must-start regardless of matchup.

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)
Engram's fantasy outlook depends on if Odell Beckham suits up or not. Engram was second on the Giants with five targets last week, catching three for 77 yards. With Beckham in the lineup, he is at best the third option and probably the fourth, so Beckham being out gives him a nice bump. If Beckham can't go he is a fringe TE1 otherwise he is barely a TE2.

 

Dolphins at Vikings

Matchups We Love:

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)
Cook only has two games with more than 10 carries all year, and none with more than 16, but he does have 13 receptions over the last two. He could see more work in the run game with O.C. John DeFilippo getting fired and head coach Mike Zimmer taking over play-calling duties. The Dolphins are giving up 4.5 yards per carry and 113 yards per game, so he'll have chances. He is a fringe RB1 start.

Matchups We Hate:

Ryan Tannehill (QB, MIA)
Tannehill has back-to-back three-touchdown games and has eight total touchdowns over the last three games, but is averaging just 202 yards over that stretch. It's unlikely he keeps up his touchdown streak facing a Vikings defense giving up 230 yards and just one touchdown per game. Especially on the road, Tannehill can't be trusted in any format.

Kenyan Drake / Frank Gore (RB, MIA)
Drake doesn't have more than eight carries in five straight games and has just 14 total receptions over that stretch. Gore continues to see more carries but has caught more than one pass just twice all season. Both are in a brutal spot against a Vikings front holding backs to just 3.5 yards per carry and five catches per game. Drake does have some deep flex value in PPR formats but both should be avoided if possible.

Kenny Stills (WR, MIA)
Stills has 13 catches, 178 yards, and two touchdowns in the last three games but is hard to trust facing a Vikings secondary holding receivers to the fourth fewest receptions and just 130 yards per game. He is nothing more than a boom/bust WR4 option.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)
Cousins is coming off an abysmal game in Seattle on Monday night, where he threw for 208 yards and one touchdown, most of which occurred in garbage time. He should bounce back this week against a Dolphins defense giving up 270 yards and two touchdowns to quarterbacks, and likely to be without top cornerback Xavien Howard. Cousins is a fringe QB1.

Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)
Thielen's ridiculous start to the season has cooled off a bit, but he still leads the team with 26 targets over the last three games. Diggs is second with 22. Both are in play against a Dolphins secondary that will likely be missing stud corner, Xavien Howard. Thielen has the better matchup out of the slot, Julian Edelman just torched this team, but Diggs is in a fine spot as well. Thielen is a WR1 start while Diggs is a high-end WR2 with upside.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
Rudolph has just a 13% target share over the last three and has only caught more than five passes twice all year. The Dolphins are middle-of-the-pack against tight ends so he should have chances, but he can't be trusted as more than a high-end TE2 with a low floor.

 

Redskins at Jaguars

Matchups We Love:

Leonard Fournette (RB, JAX)
For the first time in four games, Fournette did not top 100 scrimmage yards as the Jaguars were in catch-up mode against the Titans. He should be in for a big game against a Redskins defense that has been atrocious against the run of late, having given up 128 or more in four straight and a touchdown in three straight. This game should remain close and Fournette is in line for 20+ touches. He is a solid RB1 start.

Matchups We Hate:

Josh Johnson (QB, WAS)
If you had no idea who Josh Johnson was before Sunday, don't worry you weren't alone. The long-time journeyman had been out of the league for four years and hadn't started a game since 2011. Now at the age of 32, he is the Redskins starting quarterback. His reward? A date with a stout Jaguars defense giving up just 217 yards and one touchdown. Johnson can do some damage with his legs, but he is beyond a risky start in this one.

Adrian Peterson (RB, WAS)
Peterson had just 10 carries for 16 yards in Week 14 as the Redskins got blown out by the Giants. Apart from a 92-yard touchdown run in Week 13, Peterson now has just 57 yards on his last 30 carries. Despite what Derrick Henry did to this Jaguars defense this is still a good run defense, holding opposing backs to just 4.3 yards per carry and 89 yards. Peterson is nothing more than a touchdown-dependent RB3.

Josh Doctson / Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS)
It's hard to project what the Redskins receiving target share will look like with Josh Johnson, but it likely doesn't matter. The Jaguars hold opposing receivers to the third fewest catches and just 135 yards per game. Both Doctson and Crowder should be benched if possible.

Other Matchups:

Vernon Davis (TE, WAS)
With Jordan Reed out for this week, and possibly longer, old man Vernon Davis becomes a viable fantasy option once again. This offense could be terrible with Josh Johnson, but Davis should see enough snaps and targets to be startable in the current tight end landscape. He is a bit of a risk but he has some upside.

Cody Kessler (QB, JAX)
The best word to describe Kessler's two starts so far is...Meh. He has 290 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. He isn't killing the Jaguars but he isn't really helping them either. Despite a good matchup with the Redskins he likely won't help your fantasy team either. Kessler is nothing more than a low-end QB2 in very deep leagues.

Dede Westbrook / Donte Moncrief / Keelan Cole (WR, JAX)
In Cody Kessler's two starts the Jaguars targets are Westbrook 15, Moncrief 14, and Cole nine. If you're going to start a Jaguar receiver Westbrook is the guy you want, as he has 10 catches, 113 yards, and one score with Kessler. Moncrief is an intriguing home run play as he has 172 air yards with Kessler but just 87 receiving yards. Cole is nothing more than a very deep flex play.

 

Cowboys at Colts

Matchups We Love:

Blake Jarwin (TE, DAL)
Jarwin caught all seven of his targets in Week 14 for 56 yards. It was his first game with more than two targets, but if you're desperate he gets a fantastic matchup this week against a Colts defense allowing the second most receptions and 73 yards per game to the position.

Eric Ebron (TE, IND)
Ebron caught just four passes but did rack up 85 yards and scored because that's what he does. Now he gets a matchup with the Cowboys who allow the third most receptions and over 60 yards per game to the position. Ebron is a locked-in must-start at the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)
Cooper is coming off a monster 10 catch, 217 yards, three touchdown game against the Eagles but now must face a Colts secondary holding receivers to the fourth-fewest receptions and just 120 yards per game. Cooper is impossible to bench at this point but you may want to temper expectations.

Marlon Mack (RB, IND)
Mack has 22 carries for 60 yards over the last two games and gets another tough matchup against a Cowboys run defense holding running backs to just 3.6 yards per carry and 63 yards per game. Always a touchdown threat in this offense Mack can't be considered more than an RB3.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)
Hilton has 33 receptions, 556 yards, and two touchdowns over the last four games but draws a tough Cowboys secondary holding opposing receivers to the second fewest receptions and just 136 yards. It's hard to fade him at this point, especially with how well Luck is playing, but you should temper expectations.

Other Matchups:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)
In an overtime win over the Eagles, Prescott threw for 455 yards and three touchdowns but also had two interceptions. This was the first game all year he topped 300 yards. The Colts allow just 250 yards and 1.5 touchdowns to quarterbacks, so he may not have massive upside, but he is a safe start this week.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)
Over the last four games, Elliott is averaging 25 carries and 7.5 receptions. He should be heavily involved once again facing off against a Colts defense giving up 85 yards on the ground and the second most receptions to running backs. Elliott is an every week must-start RB1.

Andrew Luck (QB, IND)
A week after having zero touchdowns versus the Jaguars, Luck bounced back with 399 yards and two scores. The Cowboys are not a great spot, allowing 246 yards and 1.5 touchdowns, but Luck is essentially matchup-proof. He is an easy QB1 start.

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