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Fantasy Football: Week 15 lineup advice amid COVID chaos

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Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 15 lineups.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cleveland Browns

Start: Hunter Renfrow, Donovan Peoples-Jones

Renfrow might qualify as too obvious here given he’s an easy top-10 PPR option without Darren Waller, but he’s a must-start against a Browns defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the slot this season. Outside of him and Josh Jacobs, no other Raiders player can be trusted against a Browns defense allowing the third-fewest yards per play at home (albeit dealing with a COVID outbreak).

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Peoples-Jones led Cleveland in routes run last week (when game script and DPI prevented him from having an even bigger game), while Jarvis Landy, Austin Hooper and Kareem Hunt are likely to miss Saturday’s matchup. Nick Mullens is starting at QB, but DPJ has talent and could be looking at double-digit targets.

New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts

Start: Mac Jones

Sit: Carson Wentz

The Patriots completely change their weekly game plan depending on the opponent, and Saturday they play indoors against a Colts run defense that ranks fifth in DVOA. With Damien Harris banged up and Indy’s secondary beatable, expect Jones to pass more than usual this week. He’s a top-15 QB option to open the fantasy playoffs.

While the same could be said about Wentz passing more than usual this week with New England tough to run against, the Patriots are even better versus the pass. NE enters healthy on defense, coming off a bye and allowing the fewest fantasy points per pass attempt over the last six weeks

Washington Football Team @ Philadelphia Eagles

Start: Ricky Seals-Jones, Dallas Goedert

Jon Bates led the team in routes run last week, but Seals-Jones managed four targets and could be busier Sunday with Terry McLaurin banged up and J.D. McKissic likely out again. RSJ is more of a flier, but he’s an option at a thin position against an Eagles defense allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends this season.

Washington is a pass-funnel defense, which isn’t so bad for an Eagles team that’s usually extremely run-heavy but enters with Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard all questionable. With Hurts reportedly dealing with a high-ankle sprain, the guess here is Gardner Minshew starts, which last time resulted in Goedert finishing as fantasy’s No. 2 TE the week before the team’s bye.

Carolina Panthers @ Buffalo Bills

Sit: All Panthers

Start in DFS: Gabriel Davis ($12)

You can start DJ Moore if needed (especially in PPR), but he’s shakier than usual while battling a hamstring injury and facing arguably the league’s top pass defense (albeit now missing Tre’Davious White). The Bills have ceded the fewest fantasy points to receivers this season, and Moore has one touchdown since Week 4. No other Panthers player can be trusted in this matchup.

Davis saw a season-high in usage last week and is set to be busy again Sunday with Emmanuel Sanders unlikely to play. With a struggling run game (including Josh Allen now likely to run less while playing through a sprained foot) and Stephon Gilmore frequently lined up against Stefon Diggs, Davis is a highly intriguing DFS option at the near minimum.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

Sit: All Jets

Start: DeVante Parker

If Michael Carter is activated and you need an RB, he can be considered, but it’s best to bench all other Jets this week. Zach Wilson has gotten 5.8 YPA with a 2:5 TD:INT ratio while taking 18 sacks over five road games; he badly misses Elijah Moore. The Dolphins have allowed the fewest yards per play at home this season, and the Jets have the lowest implied team total (16 points) this week.

With seemingly every back on Miami’s roster and Jaylen Waddle all highly questionable, Parker and Mike Gesicki get a big boost this week in a prime matchup. The Jets’ defense ranks last in YPA, Passer Rating, yards per reception and completion%

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

Start: Cowboys D/ST

Sit: All Giants but Saquon Barkley

While Dak Prescott has struggled since returning from his calf injury, Dallas’ defense has looked dominant while getting healthy. Mike Glennon posted a fifth percentile CPOE (-16.1) performance last week and is getting an ugly 4.7 YPA while starting this season. How bad can Jake Fromm (State Farm) be? The Cowboys' defensive line is going to eat New York’s OL Sunday.

It would be hard to feel confident starting anyone on the Giants other than Barkley in this matchup, and the banged-up RB is more of a flex option against a Cowboys defense allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sit: Julio Jones

Start: Chase Claypool

A Titans running back could easily have a big game against a Steelers run defense that looked comically bad while allowing an NFL-season high 205 rushing yards to an injured Dalvin Cook the last time we saw them, but it’s a three-way committee that’s tough to predict. Jones played just 46% of the snaps during his return last week, hasn’t looked right all season and remains a real risk of leaving mid-game.

Claypool is a fun one to go down narrative street with this week, as he’s coming off a seemingly embarrassing gaffe late in a primetime loss to the Vikings. He was also the team’s most productive player per route and now gets a Titans pass-funnel defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Sit: All Texans but Brandin Cooks

Start in DFS: James Robinson ($22)

Cooks is a safe play looking at many targets (although Detective Davis Mills has gotten just 5.0 YPA with a 1:8 TD:TO ratio on the road this season), but it’s best to sit all other Texans (unless you wanted to use Brevin Jordan — $10 — as a DFS punt) against a Jacksonville team fired up and suddenly five-point favorites now that Urban Meyer is gone.

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Robinson leads the NFL in rush yards over expectation, has averaged 99.9 scrimmage yards at home this season and should smash a Houston defense allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Interim coach Darrell Bevell even hinted at Robinson being the focal point of the team’s offense Sunday. Just realize he’s likely become DFS chalk with the Meyer bounce narrative now in full effect.

Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions

Start in DFS: Kyler Murray ($40)

Start: Amon-Ra St. Brown

Murray was outscored by Mike Glennon and Davis Mills last week, as he dealt with a tough Rams defense. Arizona will be traveling during a short week but remains the biggest favorite (-12) on the board (despite news of DeAndre Hopkins being out) against a Detroit defense that just lost its top cover corner Jerry Jacobs and is allowing the second-most YPA (8.2) while recording the second-fewest sacks this season. Indoors against a beatable defense and coming off a shaky performance (and with James Conner banged up), expect a big rebound from Murray, who’s produced 16 touchdowns with just two turnovers over five games on the road this year.

St. Brown has seen 12 targets each of the past two games, as he’s emerged as Detroit’s clear WR1. The Lions return home this week when they will continue to be without T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift (with Josh Reynolds and Jamaal Williams also questionable), so St. Brown is looking at double-digit targets again Sunday. THE BLITZ is projecting him to score the sixth-most fantasy points among WRs in PPR leagues this week.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14)
Amon-Ra St. Brown has looked like the No. 1 receiver of the Lions lately. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers

Start in DFS: Kyle Pitts ($14)

Start: Jimmy Garoppolo

Pitts continues to underwhelm, but that means his salary is now outside the top-12 TEs. He ranks fourth in targets and sixth in yards per game among tight ends as a rookie, with low TD production the culprit for his disappointing season. The Falcons will have to pass more than usual this week as TD+ underdogs against an SF defense that shuts down the run but is dealing with injuries to its secondary, and Pitts is likely to have a lower roster percentage given his output since Calvin Ridley left.

Garoppolo is tied for second in YPA (8.4) this season and gets a favorable matchup this week against a Falcons defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks while also recording the league’s lowest pressure rate. With Elijah Mitchell still banged up, it’s also possible Garoppolo throws more than usual Sunday, so he can be considered a top-15 fantasy QB in this matchup.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos

Start: Joe Burrow, Jerry Jeudy

Burrow ranks second in YPA and completion percentage above expectation this season despite playing outdoors in a tougher defensive division, dealing with multiple drops from his receivers and returning from major knee surgery. He’s a fine start this week against a beatable Broncos defense.

Denver wide receivers have somehow combined for just 344 yards with zero touchdowns over the last five weeks, but Jeudy has at least been the team’s clear WR1. The Broncos like to win with a slow pace and running the ball, but Teddy Bridgewater is likely to be forced to pass more than usual against a solid Bengals run defense (and with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon both nursing injuries). Moreover, top cover corner Chidobe Awuzie has been placed on the COVID list, so Jeudy is looking at more targets (Cincinnati is going to put up points on the other side) and gets a big matchup upgrade.

Green Bay Packers @ Baltimore Ravens

Start in DFS: Davante Adams ($32), Mark Andrews ($23)

Adams is coming off a big game when he was fantasy’s WR1 last week and now gets a pass-funnel Ravens defense with a bunch of injuries to their secondary. The Ravens have allowed the second-most passing yards this season and the most fantasy points to outside receivers over the last month, and Adams’ salary is lower than three other pass catchers. Aaron Rodgers is set to rip apart Baltimore’s coverage — which bodes well for Adams.

With the spread moving to GB -5.5 or higher, the total a lowly 43.5 points and the Ravens signing Josh Johnson off the Jets’ practice squad, the guess here is Tyler Huntley ($24) gets the start. While an obvious downgrade, Huntley targeted Andrews relentlessly after replacing Lamar Jackson last week, helping Andrews finish as fantasy’s No. 2 tight end. Andrews leads all tight ends with 12 end-zone targets (only three WRs have seen more), Marquise Brown is questionable (another player who may not necessarily miss Jackson), and Baltimore should need to pass more than usual with Green Bay likely to score at will against a Ravens secondary ravaged by injuries.

This matchup is a nice setup for both passing attacks, even if Jackson sits.

Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams

Start in DFS: DK Metcalf ($21), Sony Michel ($19)

Metcalf has been in a major slump since Seattle’s bye, averaging 3.4 catches and 34.6 yards with zero touchdowns over the last five games. But I’m all in this week, as he’s not only incredibly due after losing two separate touchdowns to penalties and missing another thanks to a bad throw last week, but Tyler Lockett has been placed on the COVID list. Moreover, Russell Wilson looked fully back last week and Jalen Ramsey’s status for Sunday remains very much up in the air

I have Metcalf as ranked as my No. 3 WR this week.

Michel’s salary is far too low as LA’s new feature back, something that looks increasingly likely to continue even when Darrell Henderson returns. This week the Rams get a home matchup versus a Seahawks run-funnel defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Michel looks healthy, led the NFL in yards per touch last season and is about to be a major fantasy difference-maker down the stretch in one of the most productive roles in the league.

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Start: Taysom Hill, All Bucs (possibly Ronald Jones)

It may be easier not to watch him Sunday night, but Hill remains a true fantasy cheat code with his running, as he’s been the QB6 on average during six career starts.

Bonus pick: Nick Vannett finished second among all tight ends in target share last week and gets a Tampa Bay defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to the position, so he’s a sleeper.

You’re obviously starting Tom Brady (shredded the Saints for 9.4 YPA and four TDs earlier this year and has been unstoppable at home), Chris Godwin, Mike Evans (although his history against Marshon Lattimore has been mixed) and Rob Gronkowski against a New Orleans pass-funnel defense. But Ronald Jones would also become a top-20 RB should Leonard Fournette’s ankle force him to sit. Even against a tough run defense and likely losing passing down work to Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the enigmatic Jones would be a fine start as the lead back on a Bucs team averaging 37.5 points at home.

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Start: K.J. Osborn, Justin Fields

With Adam Thielen only a couple weeks removed from a high-ankle sprain, there’s a good chance Osborn gets another start Monday night. Minnesota has a narrow target tree (Osborn has seen 16 over the last two weeks), and Chicago has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to receivers this season.

Fields has been a top-10 fantasy QB each of his last three full starts thanks in part to a high scramble rate, and he gets a Vikings defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

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