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Week 15 Matchups - Fantasy Football Game Breakdowns (Part 2)


Welcome to the second part of 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 for the latest advice.

This article will cover the late slate of games, beginning after 4:00 pm EST on Sunday as well as the Sunday night game. Don't forget to see our Saturday matchupsearly game matchups analysis here and look for our MNF matchups analysis as well.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. For start/sit advice or anything fantasy football-related, find me on Twitter @Pfunk00 and I'll be glad to offer help.

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!

 

4:05 PM ET Games

This week, there are only two late Sunday games thanks to the pair of games being played Saturday. One could involve several players on league-winning teams, as the Patriots visit the Steelers in a must-win game for Pittsburgh after last week's bitter defeat to Oakland. The Rams are also looking for redemption after a Sunday night loss to Chicago in Week 14. Can Nick Foles work his magic against the best team in the NFC?

 

Seahawks at 49ers

Matchups We Love:

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)
If you rolled with Wilson last weekend and survived to tell the tale, you may be gunshy about sticking with him again. This is a different matchup, however, as the 49ers yield a 28/2 TD/INT ratio to quarterbacks. It's scary how little Wilson is throwing the ball lately (17 pass attempts in Week 13, 20 in Week 14) but one of those games included a four-touchdown effort vs these Niners. What he lacks in volume, he should make up for in efficiency and rank as a low-end QB1 that is safer than many other options out there.

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)
He's still the top back in Seattle, who runs the ball more than any other team, and brings RB2 upside each week. The 49ers aren't slowing down opponents on the ground too much, allowing 100+ rushing yards in four of the last five games including 168 to the Seahawks. Carson tallied 108 total yards the first time these teams met and should deliver similar value or better if Penny doesn't play.

Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)
He's been the Seahawks' best receiver all year and scored in all but four games. He'll have a good matchup against the 49ers secondary and should be a solid WR2, especially if Baldwin is out.

Dante Pettis (WR, SF)
Expecting Pettis to score in a fourth straight game might be a case of pressing your luck. Then again, he faces the same team he torched for 129 yards and two TD in Week 13 and has been Mullens' favorite target since taking over as starting QB. Pettis should be starting with confidence this week as a WR3 with upside for more.

George Kittle (TE, SF)
If last week's insane 210-yard game (180 in the first half) didn't reinforce the fact that he's an elite tight end, consider the fact that since Mullens took over, Kittle is averaging 6.4 receptions and 103.8 yards per game. He's a must-start as usual despite Seattle's relative toughness against the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)
A knee issue has cropped up that may keep Penny out of action in Week 15. We've seen his explosiveness start to come around and the Niners aren't a tough run defense but at this juncture, usage matters. You don't want to risk your playoff life on a rookie who has touched the ball seven times per game this season - a number that has not gone up in recent weeks, despite what you may believe. Penny shouldn't be in fantasy lineups this week regardless of injury news.

Matt Breida (RB, SF)
In a regular week, Breida could be a wait-and-see option as your RB2. In Week 15, you can't hope he is suddenly healthy enough to not only start but actually finish a game. Two weeks ago, Breida ran five times for six yards before leaving for good. His ankle injury has affected him in practice, making him questionable yet again. If you don't have anything better on the bench at RB, then hope for the best if he does suit up but you may be better off forsaking a high ceiling in favor of a sure few points elsewhere.

Doug Baldwin (WR, SEA)
If he plays, he could be a solid flex possibility. You may not want to deal with that if in the semi-final or final of your fantasy playoffs, though. Baldwin missed Week 14 and is questionable again due to a hip injury, different from his earlier knee issues. “We’re just going one day at a time with Doug and never expecting anything other than he may pull off another one of his miracles and get back and play,’’ Carroll said. Not encouraging when the word "miracle" comes up in reference to playing status. He only came away with two catches for 22 yards in the first matchup between these teams but he did score a touchdown. He probably sits this one out, but if he does suit up then start at your own risk.

Marquise Goodwin (WR, SF)
He hasn't been fully healthy all year and is still dealing with a calf injury. He hasn't clicked with Nick Mullens late in the season and he wasn't really effective in the first half anyway. Goodwin is one of those players who is boom-bust any given week and carries way too much risk at this point to be in fantasy lineups.

Nick Vannett / Ed Dickson (TE, SEA)
In the last five games, Vannett has a high of two receptions for 22 yards and an average of 1.2 receptions for 12.6 yards with one touchdown. Dickson's numbers are actually a tad worse. There's nothing to see here, move along.

Other Matchups:

Nick Mullens (QB, SF)
Seattle still has one of the better pass defenses out there, even if they've slipped statistically over the last couple of weeks. Part of that can be blamed on Mullens, who went for a career-high 414 yards and two touchdowns a couple weeks ago in Seattle. If he can do that in the face of the 12th man, he can do even better at home, right? That could be faulty logic. San Francisco was down 20-3 at halftime of that game and promptly gave up another touchdown 16 seconds into the second half, forcing them to enter comeback mode and rely on the pass as Seattle sat back and played conservatively. The garbage time may not be there if San Fran can keep it closer this time around so assuming a repeat of Week 13 could be costly if you bench a better-known commodity like Cousins or Ryan in his place.

Jeff Wilson (RB, SF)
As the starter the last two weeks, Wilson has tallied 230 total yards and proven capable as a receiver. The letdown is that he's gotten zero touchdowns compared to two fumbles. His value hinges on Breida's health, so consider him a low-end RB2 for now.

David Moore / Jaron Brown (WR, SEA)
With Baldwin likely out, someone could step up in the red zone as often happens. Brown scored twice against the Niners two weeks ago but has accounted for 10 total yards in the other six games since their Week 7 bye. That's two catches for 10 yards over the six games not against San Francisco. You're really betting on history to repeat itself to roll out Brown in a standard league or really desperate in a crazy-deep PPR leagues. Moore has been held without a catch two straight games after his career-best 103 yards in Week 12. He had been coming on through the mid-portion of the season, however, and shouldn't be ruled out as a flex option if needed.

 

Patriots at Steelers

Matchups We Love:

Tom Brady (QB, NE)
Vintage Brady is back, at least he was last week with 358 yards and three TD. The touchdowns are coming back too, despite the presence of James "Vulture" Develin. In last year's matchup, Brady threw for 298 yards, one TD and one INT but could do much better against a Steelers defense that went from ninth-best against the QB last year to ninth-worst this year. This game should feature plenty of scoring and although the Pats play-calling doesn't always favor Brady, there should be enough action for him to be a safe starter in all leagues.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)
Last week's debacle hurt Big Ben and AB owners to some extent but it could work in their favor this week. The Steelers need to win just to keep pace with the Ravens, who have an easy matchup against the Bucs, and to ease the pain of an upset loss to the Raiders. The sense of urgency, coupled with a strong Patriots offense, should keep Roethlisberger busy all afternoon. Prior to last week when he missed a portion of the game, Roethlisberger had averaged almost 50 pass attempts in the previous three games. Without James Conner again, the passing game should be at the forefront and Roethlisberger may produce well over 300 yards with multiple touchdowns.

Antonio Brown / JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)
There's a good chance these players could find their way into fantasy lineups in the playoffs. Sarcasm aside, Brown had his worst game of the year at the worst possible time, collecting just five catches for 35 yards and failing to reach the end zone for the third time all year. With his QB back in full, he should easily retain his status as one of the best receivers in the game. Although last year he did manage just 24 yards against the Patriots... Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster went for 114 yards in his first game against New England and was the man last week, catching eight balls for 130 yards and two TD. There may be a legit argument heading into next season as to who the real WR1 is in Pittsburgh, but for this week's purposes, there is no reason whatsoever to keep either on your bench regardless of matchup.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
This game could have Gronk written all over it. Pittsburgh allows the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends and Gronk appears to be as healthy as he's been (as long as you don't ask him to tackle). He was huge last week with 107 yards and a TD on eight catches. Plus, he's owned the Steelers over his career, averaging 110 yards in six games against them, including 168 last season. Gronk may finally jump back up to being the top fantasy tight end, at least for this week.

Matchups We Hate:

Sony Michel (RB, NE)
The last two weeks, Michel has disappointed his owners, racking up 63 and 57 yards without a score. Those results came in games where the Pats led for much of the game. If the Pats can't control the Steelers on defense, Michel could see less work and become a TD-dependent player, given his lack of work as a receiver.

Other Matchups:

James White (RB, NE)
With Michel back healthy, it's been a dead even split in terms of snap count for both backs. White's red zone work has been usurped by James Develin and the team hasn't been checking down to him as a receiver as much either. That said, game script could work in his favor this week, at least enough to prop him back up to RB2 status. Like all Pats running backs, White's usage fluctuates quite a bit from week to week so you need to trust that he'll be relied upon in this matchup against a top conference foe, when the team tends to use him most.

Josh Gordon / Julian Edelman (WR, NE)
Neither Gordon nor Edelman has a particularly good individual matchup with the Steelers secondary, which has been average at defending wide receivers this year. If Gronk and White are more involved, that leaves fewer targets for the WR group. Each should be good for a relatively high floor, however, as this offense is always creative enough to be mostly matchup-proof.

Jaylen Samuels (RB/TE, PIT)
The idea is floating around that James Conner has a chance to play on Sunday. That idea came from Mike Tomlin and sounds like words from a desperate coach trying to do anything to throw off his opponent. That or wishful thinking since Samuels only ran for 28 yards on 11 carries last week. Not good for a running back but his seven catches for 64 yards were good for a tight end. Luckily Samuels can be both, at least in some formats. He can be considered a top-10 TE based on scoring potential and a high floor as a receiver out of the backfield but seems to be no more than a fringe RB2 in PPR leagues similar to Mark Ingram.

Vance McDonald (TE, PIT)
McDonald hasn't put together a game with more than 50 yards since Week 6 and is sitting on three touchdowns all season. That doesn't seem like the kind of player worth chancing in a playoff matchup but fantasy owners have precious few options at TE these days. His position in a potent offense in a game with one of the highest projected point totals of the week keeps him in the TE1 conversation, as the Patriots aren't great at defending tight ends.

 

 

Sunday Night Football - Eagles at Rams

Matchups We Love:

Jared Goff (QB, LAR)
Forget last week, that was Road Goff. In the warmer weather of L.A., Goff thrives. It helps that he's not facing the Bears this week either. The Eagles have injuries all over the secondary and it showed when they gave up 434 passing yards to Dak Prescott, something previously thought to be impossible. Goff has a legitimate chance to be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks of Week 15.

Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)
He finally got one bad game out of his system, so now we can go back to MVP mode. Gurley faces a team that is statistically average against running backs this season but that's misleading because the Eagles didn't allow even 80 rushing yards to a team until Week 6 and have allowed at least 100 yards in every game since their Week 9 bye. This defense is deteriorating and could be on the field quite a bit if Foles can't do the job. Gurley will be just fine and able to lead you to berth in the championship round.

Brandin Cooks / Robert Woods (WR, LAR)
It stands to reason that a big day by Goff would mean big numbers for his receivers. Even with a miserable night by his team, Woods was able to post decent numbers with seven receptions and 61 yards last week. He is a virtual lock for 60+ yards, as he's done every game since Week 1. Cooks was the dud with 22 yards but we know his ceiling and facing off with Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas shouldn't worry his owners. Both are strong WR2 candidates with the chance for a huge game.

Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)
The good news is that Ertz's breakout season began with Foles at QB the first two weeks. In Weeks 1-2, Ertz compiled 16 catches for 142 yards on 23 targets. He should be good for double-digit targets and a fair amount of yardage - the Rams allow the sixth-most yards to tight ends.

Matchups We Hate:

Nick Foles (QB, PHI)
The surprise announcement that Carson Wentz is out for Week 15 with a suspected fracture in his vertebrae and may miss the rest of the season thrusts Super Bowl hero Foles back into action. He was bad in Week 1, throwing for 117 yards and no touchdowns but much better in Week 2 with 334 yards and a TD, albeit against the Bucs. Foles will have plenty of weapons at his disposal but he's never worked with Tate or Adams and hasn't played in three months. The Rams' tough pass rush could make for a long day for Foles.

Josh Adams (RB, PHI)
Game flow could work against the running game in this one if the Eagles fall behind early. Adams went from two straight games of 20+ carries and 80+ yards back down to seven rushes for 36 yards as the team was pass-happy trying to keep up with Dallas. It could be more of the same with the Rams on the other side lighting up the scoreboard. He can be flexed if needed but isn't a great option.

Golden Tate (WR, PHI)
Other than one solid game against Washington, Tate's tenure in Philly has been frustrating to owners expecting an upgrade in value. He caught one pass for seven yards in Week 15 and only saw three targets on the day. With a backup QB (albeit one coming off a championship), Tate's chances for a bounce back don't look promising. His matchup with Nickell Robey-Coleman doesn't do any favors either.

Nelson Agholor / Jordan Matthews (WR, PHI)
Agholor is averaging 2.4 receptions and 40 yards per game over the last five and has scored once all year. For Matthews, it would be 1.6 catches and 17.4 yards per contest. Pass.

Other Matchups:

Darren Sproles / Wendell Smallwood (RB, PHI)
Now that Corey Clement is on IR, the pass-catching role officially belongs to Sproles again with Smallwood sprinkled in occasionally. This is of no consequence to fantasy owners. One of these backs may come away with a handful of catches for minor yardage and the small chance for a score but that's not enough to keep you warm at night or to win you a playoff game.

Josh Reynolds (WR, LAR)
As the third of the trio, Reynolds remains touchdown-dependent for real value in PPR leagues. He's averaging 3.7 receptions and 45 yards in the three games since Cooper Kupp went on IR. He won't make or break your week, so treat him as a flex candidate in leagues with 14 or more teams.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, PHI)
Last week, Jeffery scored and saw nine targets, both things he hadn't done since Week 7. One decent game doesn't overshadow the fact he showed nothing most of the season and faces Aqib Talib. He did have a nice connection with Foles in last year's playoffs but we're nearly a year removed from that under far different circumstances. Jeffery has the most promise of any Eagle receiver for an adequate level of production if the team is forced to put up a high number of pass attempts.

 

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