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Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits

12.14.12 at 9:25 am ET
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rotobahn-logoWelcome to the Week 15 starts and sits. It’s semifinals week in most fantasy football leagues, so all decisions have major consequences. As always, I have done my best to list players that are on the edge of lineups in 12-team leagues. I’m sure I didn’t get to every player you have questions about. And, toward that end, feel free to consult our full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.com. I’ll also be here on Sunday morning for another chat and hopefully it will be as active as it was last week.

QUARTERBACKS

STARTS

Josh Freeman, Buccaneers at Saints

Freeman has come back to earth from a fantasy perspective. Though he’s hasn’t fallen apart, he’s only had one-plus game in the last five weeks for fantasy purposes. The Saints defense was playing with urgency and adrenaline in recent weeks, but now that New Orleans effectively is finished, I expect that enthusiasm to wane. Freeman has a good chance to succeed and is a solid start in 12-team leagues.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers at Cowboys

He showed last week that he is capable of posting solid numbers, and we think the Cowboys secondary can be had right now. If you need him, Big Ben is a quality option in 12-team leagues and a viable one in smaller leagues, too.

Matt Schaub, Texans vs. Colts

After last week’s debacle at Foxboro, we expect Schaub to bounce back. We also expect the Texans to do what they can to avoid overusing Arian Foster, who is racking up immense carry and touch totals in 2012. Schaub should do well in Week 15 and he can start for you in 12-team leagues as a QB1 if you need him.

SITS

Jay Cutler, Bears vs. Packers

If all you want is some upside, then Cutler might be an answer, but if you want to avoid risk, then you should stay away from Chicago’s quarterback in Week 15. He struggled against the Packers in Week 2, but the bigger reason is that the guy is just too banged up to count on. In 2012 Cutler has battled concussion symptoms, knee issues and a neck injury. The two latter problems are fresh and could affect him this week. Based on Rotobahn’s current rankings, you have 18 more palatable options. Consider using one if you can.

Jake Locker, Titans vs. Jets

As with Cutler, if all you want is a guy who might post a good number, you could go with Locker, but we’re worried about his downside. Rex Ryan defenses cause confusion, and the young quarterback already has serious issues with accuracy. We’d avoid Locker this week.
The stakes simply are too high.

RUNNING BACKS

STARTS

David Wilson, Giants at Falcons

Assuming he starts for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw, you should get this guy active. If you read this space regularly, you know how much we respect Wilson’s talent. Well, now he is going to get a chance to shine … and not just on special teams. Even if Bradshaw does manage to suit up somehow, we’d still like Wilson as a flex option in 12-team leagues. In that scenario, we’d still favor playing Wilson over Bradshaw. We’ll be all over this situation on Sunday, so check our Twitter feed or show up for the Sunday morning chat at 11 a.m.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers vs. Panthers

Lost in his down game in Week 14 was the fact that Mathews was given the rock 25 times. That represents the back’s highest total on the season and it could be a good harbinger going forward. Mathews did not rack up big numbers this past week against a stout Steelers run defense, but he should find more holes playing at home against a weaker Carolina front seven. Though he’s struggled for the bulk of 2012, we like Mathews as a strong flex option for Week 15 in 12-team leagues. He can be an RB2 in all formats if you are in need.

Darren McFadden, Raiders vs. Chiefs

Odd seeing him here, even for me, but McFadden has been a bust this year due to shoulder and ankle injuries … not that it wasn’t somewhat predictable. I took a lot of e-mails this year and last for having the stud back ranked so low. All that being said, McFadden is healthy now and is a solid play in Week 15 if you need a back. He’s practicing in full, and coach Dennis Allen deems his ankle a “non-issue” right now. The matchup vs. Kansas City is a good one. Use McFadden in 12-team leagues as a flex or RB2. He’s viable in 10-teams leagues as well if you need him.

SITS

Michael Turner, Falcons vs. Giants

The risk is very significant here. Yes, Turner has been finding the zone in recent weeks, and, if you want to bank on that happening again in Week 15, be my guest. The thing is, without the scores, Turner would be killing his owners in fantasy leagues. Turner has rushed for LESS than 20 yards in three of the last five games. Over that span, his best output was 83 yards and that was the only time he broke the 50-yard mark. So, without question, it’s the touchdowns that have saved his owners. Now, ask yourself this question: What are his chances of scoring vs. the Giants? Only five teams in the NFL have allowed fewer rushing scores than the Giants. You might want to consider other options.

WIDE RECEIVERS

STARTS

Danario Alexander, Chargers vs. Panthers

Wake me up when this guy has a bad game. We were on Alexander very early, but I can’t lie, I never thought he could stay healthy. Well, he has and he looks better than I have ever seen him since his days at Missouri. This is a story to enjoy as Alexander has worked as hard as any player just to get healthy enough to play. The fact that he has ripped up opposing defenses at this level is an added bonus. He’s a solid WR2 in any and all leagues this week.

Josh Gordon, Browns vs. Redskins

I’ve been pimping Gordon all year long, and this is a week to use the talented rookie. The Redskins give up big plays, and I expect Gordon to find the zone in Week 15 at home vs. a typically disorganized Washington pass defense. Get Gordon active in all leagues unless your receiving corps are truly stud-laden.

Kenny Britt, Titans vs. Jets

Britt is looking better and better these days and he will be a featured part of the Titans’ Week 15 offense against the Jets. After struggling through much of the 2012 season, Britt has ramped up his production starting in Week 12, and if the trend continues he is in for a very nice game this weekend. There is some downside with CB Antonio Cromartie likely to be on him all day, but Britt has the ability to play above even big, physical corners. We wouldn’t let Cromartie scare you away. Britt should be active in 12-team leagues and is a viable play in all formats.

SITS

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots vs. 49ers

I’m not saying he’s not viable. Those who read Rotobahn know that I am a big Lloyd fan, but his game is not well-suited to make big plays against a 49ers defense that covers the back end as well as any team in football save for maybe the Bears. This is a game in which the Patriots will need to scrap for everything they get. And, while we think Brady is up to the task, this will be a game when he really spreads the ball around underneath. Lloyd is a flex option in 12-team leagues but he’s a reach as a WR3 in most formats for this week.

Justin Blackmon, Jaguars vs. Dolphins

Blackmon was mediocre last weekend again the Jets and we don’t love his chances this weekend against a tough Miami defense. Blackmon’s high target total from Week 14 might not carry over to this week as Cecil Shorts is likely to make his return from a concussion. If you have other solid options, this is a week to sit Blackmon in 10-team leagues. He’s a flex in 12-team formats.

TIGHT ENDS

STARTS

Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. Broncos

Pitta’s target totals have been on the rise and we expect him to continue to see the ball in the new Ravens offense led by new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. Pitta was not always given the love under old OC Cam Cameron and we expect that to change. Pitta is a solid play in 12-team leagues and a decent reach option if you need a TE in smaller formats.

Martellus Bennett, Giants at Falcons

Bennett has been getting more and more involved in recent weeks. His targets are up and he’s scored in each of the last two games. The big tight end battled a knee injury throughout the middle of the season, but he seems to be back to full health now. Bennett is a solid play in any league this week.

Tony Scheffler, Lions at Cardinals

Scheffler is a solid talent and he is going to see the ball more than normal this week. With all the lost receivers in Detroit and with the injury to starting TE Brandon Pettigrew, Scheffler is one of the few healthy viable targets left in Detroit. He’s always had good chemistry with Matthew Stafford and we expect solid output in Week 15, worthy of a start in 12-teams leagues and useful in smaller leagues, too, if you need help.

SITS

Scott Chandler, Bills vs. Seahawks

Chandler is battling a groin injury, though he has practiced this week and should play. That having been said, we do not like the matchup with Seattle. The Seahawks have done a good job in the middle of the field all year long and we’d avoid starting Chandler against them when he’s playing at less than 100 percent. Look for other options in 12-team leagues.

Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Brandon Lloyd, Danario Alexander, Darren McFadden
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