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Week 15 Start/Sit PLUS: Tua Tagovailoa, James Robinson, Aaron Jones (2021)

by Ben Wasley | @FantasyFirstDwn | Featured Writer
Dec 15, 2021

It’s playoff time! With the title nearly in reach, it’s time to get over the hump. If you missed out this year, though, we’ll be looking at players to sell in dynasty and keeper leagues for next year. Let’s get into some Start/Sit plus: We’ll be looking at six categories (which are described in detail here in our Week 1 article). And to ensure total transparency, I’ll also note at the bottom of each section how I went in last week’s article (I’ve logged it as 37 hits and 24 misses, meaning a 69% success rate so far this season, but you be the judge). If you disagree or have start/sit questions, hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.

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Every-week starters, regardless of matchup

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
The Dolphins have a fantastic run home, especially for Tua and his improving receiving corps. The Jets aren’t the best matchup, but he’s by far the best streaming option and will be startable throughout the playoffs with the Saints and Titans up next.

Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
He had an awful game last week, but Gibson should get right back on the horse against an Eagles defense that even Tevin Coleman found success against. As an added bonus, he faces them again in Week 17!

James Robinson (RB – JAC)
The last two weeks have been absolutely atrocious, but with JRob facing the Texans then the Jets, teams with a combined five wins this season, the 2-11 Jags have a chance to run the ball a little. While Carlos Hyde still exists, Robinson will be the main man, and that’s enough to start him, even in the playoffs.

Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
It’s easy to forget how good Waddle was heading into the Dolphins’ bye week, despite the return of DeVante Parker. Waddle has a sensational run-in with a pile of awesome matchups, and he’s the clear lead guy in Miami. He’s a must-start in every league.

Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
In Week 1 against Jacksonville, Cooks managed 132 yards on just seven targets. And that was with Tyrod Taylor. Davis Mills has proven he can make this offense hum in good matchups, and Cooks will be a key cog in that engine. This week in his second crack at Jacksonville, Cooks is a start once again.

Zach Ertz (TE – ARI)
He’s had a few tough weeks, but Ertz is still a viable starter. He’s getting plenty of targets, and while he (and the team in general) have struggled to convert them of late, the big tight end has plenty of upside in the fantasy playoffs if you’re lacking a tight end stud.


Last Week:

Hits: Taysom Hill, Russell Wilson, Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Aaron Jones, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, DJ Moore, Deebo Samuel, Dawson Knox

OK: Josh Jacobs, Elijah Moore (INJ)

Misses: James Robinson, DK Metcalf, Tyler Conklin


Consider benching if you have a viable alternative

Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
Burrow has put together three consecutive top 12 finishes of late, but the matchup against Broncos is far tougher. This is accentuated by Joe Mixon surely being able to run effectively on the Denver defense, as we saw with Craig Reynolds last week.

Damien Harris (RB – NE) and Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE)
The Patriots backfield remains a mess with Harris and Stevenson combining on early downs and Brandon Bolden getting most of the passing-down work. Against the Colts, those rushing opportunities will be few and far between, so if both big men are healthy, I wouldn’t start either.

Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
I don’t understand what the Packers are doing with their runners at the moment, but I don’t like it. Jones always has multi-TD upside, but he was out-touched by AJ Dillon 19-8 last week (and 25-10 the week before). Will that continue against the Ravens? I have honestly no idea, maybe it was game-script dependant, but if I can avoid finding out in the playoff finals, I will.

D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
The Panthers WR1 has had a resurgence with Cam Newton, but the matchup against the Bills is very awkward for receivers, especially in frigid Buffalo. I’d rather avoid risking him in my fantasy playoffs if I can avoid it.

Terry McLaurin (WR – WAS)
Scary Terry has been less F1 and more no1 of late. Eleven fantasy points in the last three weeks combined is ugly reading, and WFT faces Philly and their top 5 WR defense in Week 15. That’s a lot of numbers, and none of them are good.

Tyler Conklin (TE – MIN)
It was hoped that the injury to Adam Thielen would lead to increased usage by the man some are calling Gronklin. That didn’t occur, though, with Dalvin Cook and, to a lesser extent, KJ Osborn getting all the extra work. The Vikings face the Bears, who aren’t a great tight end matchup, in Week 15, and that means I’m avoiding Conklin this week.

Pat Freiermuth (TE – PIT)
The matchup is ugly, and the targets have massively dropped of late, with no more than four looks in each of the last three weeks. ‘Muth is getting by on touchdowns, but that’s not what I want to rely on in the fantasy playoffs.


Last Week:

Hits: Derek Carr, Kareem Hunt, Chase Edmonds, Russell Gage, Tyler Boyd, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Higbee

OK: Tevin Coleman (INJ), Darrell Henderson (INJ), Sony Michel (Henderson INJ), Noah Fant

Misses: Joe Burrow, Odell Beckham, Austin Hooper


Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF)
If you can’t get Tua to stream this week, Jimmy G is a pretty good alternative. He’s got a juicy matchup against the generous Falcons and an impressively in-form group of receiving options with Kittle and Aiyuk firing on all cylinders.

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
I’m not expecting a repeat of last week’s overall RB2 explosion, but Penny is good enough to provide a viable flex option if you’re in a pinch.

Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
The Dolphins face the Jets, the league’s most generous run defense. While Phillip Lindsay may provide some touch competition, I expect Gaskin to get enough work to well and truly make him start-worthy.

Chase Claypool (WR – PIT)
Notre Dame’s favorite Canadian has topped 80 receiving yards in three of the last four weeks, and he faces the generous Titans secondary this week. While he made some very poor decisions for his NFL team last week (yes, Chase, poke another grown man in the face, that’s smart), he’s proven to be very effective for fantasy of late. That’s what I’m banking on again this week.

DeVante Parker (WR – MIA)
The Dolphins have a solid matchup against the Jets, and Parker has been a viable starter whenever he’s been healthy. He should be in good shape coming off the bye, and he has strong TD upside, so I’m starting him in any matchups where I’m short on receivers.

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
Coming off an unfortunate false positive, Higbee will be raring to go against the generous Seahawks. He’s put in a few good performances of late, and with OBJ possibly out this week, Higbee is a nice streamer who may be available on waivers.


Last Week:

Hits: Laquon Treadwell, Greg Joseph, New Orleans Saints DST, Green Bay Packers DST

OK: Kirk Cousins, Adrian Peterson (I/A)

Misses: Cam Newton, Ameer Abdullah, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Julio Jones, Tre’Quan Smith, Washington TEs, Foster Moreau, Chris Boswell


Pick up and bench this week

Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
I don’t like Russ this week, but he’s got a good matchup in Week 16, and he’s shown a solid return to form of late. He’s topped 18 points each of the last three games, and with Tyler Lockett returning to form and the run game starting to hum, this offense could finish the year hot. Take a gamble on Russ cooking.

Backup Running Backs
I’ve been saying all season that backup running backs are the only bench players who can immediately become starters, and many have. They lose a little value this late in the season, but given how many players are finding themselves on the Covid list of late, there’s still a chance any of these guys could become a starter at any time. That’s not true of most other positions. Here’s my updated list of backups to stash, outside the obvious guys already starting (in order): Alexander Mattison, Tony Pollard, AJ Dillon, Mark Ingram, Chase Edmonds, Devontae Booker, Darrel Williams, Peyton Barber, Jeff Wilson, Nyheim Hines, Ronald Jones, Samaje Perine, Phillip Lindsay, Latavius Murray, Mike Davis

Odell Beckham Jr (WR – LAR)
OBJ is on the COVID list, so I wouldn’t trust him this week, but he has a fantastic matchup against the Vikings in Week 16, so I want him on my bench.

Jonnu Smith (TE – NE)
Over the last month, there have been signs that Jonnu Smith is taking over the receiving role in New England. I’m not confident enough in that to suggest starting him even in Week 15’s juicy matchup, but he’s worth rostering to see what happens. It’s also why Hunter Henry isn’t a streamer I want to risk, despite the possible boom spot. Both are interesting DFS plays, though.


Last Week:

Hits: Backup Running Backs, Kj Osborn

TBD: Tua Tagovailoa, Carlos Hyde, JaMycal Hasty, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Cole Kmet

Misses: NIL

Sell In Dynasty

Players who are likely to lose value in the future and could be sold now for a better player. This is primarily advice for dynasty teams who are out of the playoffs and looking to rebuild.

Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
ARod is firing for Green Bay now, but he may be headed elsewhere next year, which could mean a real drop in value. Sell him to a competing team this year and rebuild before losing his remaining value.

All Rams running backs
This is simple. The Rams have one running back spot and three very talented backs: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Sony Michel. I believe Akers will get the main starting role back next year, but I’m not confident it won’t be an ugly committee. There’s just so little upside to rostering these guys in dynasty. If you can sell one for a starter, do it straight away. Otherwise, hold on and hope.

Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
He’s having an incredible renaissance this season, but Lombardi Lenny is unlikely to maintain this level of performance far past this season. At 26 years of age with a bigger body type, he’s the type of guy who can fall off a cliff real quick.

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)
Deebo has just three receptions in the last four weeks combined. He’s getting by on heavy rushing usage and a huge pile of TDs (six in four games), but that’s not anything close to sustainable once the 49ers’ lead runners get healthy. I’d rather sell out now if someone sees him as a WR1 rather than see if he’ll return to his traditional receiving role.

Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
It’s probably too late, but the 32-year-old has had several poor weeks, and it’s hard to suggest he’s the sure-thing TE1 going into 2022 drafts. If you can get a high first-rounder or a strong WR1 for him, I’d take it and enjoy it.


Last Week:

Hits: Lamar Jackson, Darrell Henderson, David Montgomery, Keenan Allen, TJ Hockenson

TBD: Aging QBs, Sony Michel, Kenneth Gainwell, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Godwin

Misses: Josh Allen, James Conner, Tee Higgins, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Lockett, George Kittle


Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available

Derek Carr (QB – LV)
Since his Week 8 bye, Carr has only six TDs and five INTs. That’s an ugly ratio across six games (nearly half the season at this point). While his yardage is high (he’s still second among all quarterbacks), he’s got tough matchups coming up and receivers who are struggling to stay on the field. He needn’t be rostered outside the deepest of 1QB leagues.

Dontrell Hilliard (RB – TEN)
Many people got very excited by Hilliard’s Week 13 breakout, but D’Onta Foreman remains the lead guy in Tennessee, and Jeremy McNichols is back to steal a lot of the receiving work. Hilliard is now just a change of pace guy.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR – BUF)
Gabriel Davis has taken over as the Bills’ second outside receiver, making Sanders entirely droppable. He’s been great at times this year, but it’s over now. What a great career, though.

Also, RIP to his former team-mate Demaryius Thomas. What an amazing player and man he was.

Foster Moreau (TE – LV)
The backup has had two disappointing weeks, and Darren Waller is likely returning to his starting role, so you can drop Moreau.


Last Week:

Hits: Ryan Tannehill, Matt Breida, Jeremy McNichols, Mecole Hardman, Logan Thomas, Tyler Bass, Daniel Carlson, Chicago Bears DST, Pittsburgh Steelers DST

TBD: Ty Johnson

Misses: Justin Fields, Robby Anderson, Rashod Bateman, Gerald Everett

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Ben Wasley is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Ben, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyFirstDwn.

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