If you’re reading this — then odds are things have worked out OK for you this season.
Either that, or you’re a special kind of fantasy football fanatic — or masochist.
At this point in the season, if you’re still playing, it’s playoff time. From here out, it’s really quite simple. Win this week’s matchup, and it’s on to championship week (or the semifinals, if your league is one of those weird ones with a Week 17 title game). Lose, and you can’t say you’re too busy to bake cookies or go to Cousin Lenny’s ugly Christmas sweater party.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you could just figure out what that smell is at Lenny’s house. Like someone left a big block of gorgonzola inside the wall.
Not … pleasant.
Anyway, at this crucial point in the season, every matchup is all the more important. Every fantasy point can be the difference between advancing and elimination. The pressure is immense.
What? That didn’t help?
OK. Enough screwing around.
Before we get to this week’s recommendations, a quick note.
There are as many differing theories for how to set playoff lineups as there are liars in Congress. Some folks swear by “Always Start Your Studs.” Others believe with every fiber of their being that matchups are king. Most of those theories have at least some merit.
But as I’ve been saying quite a bit of late, the only person who has to live with the decisions you make about your fantasy lineup this week is you.
Do your research. Follow your gut. And good luck in the playoffs.
We’re skipping the “Spot Start of the Week” over the next few weeks in lieu of adding a few more recommendations. I’ll include a spot-starter at each position for folks who limped into the playoffs with a hole in the lineup (I feel your pain), but at this point in the year that column space is better spent on guys who will actually be in lineups in the playoffs.
Besides. I have a sweater to knit and dough to knead.
- Tom Brady, New England (at Pittsburgh)
- Drew Brees, New Orleans (at Carolina)
- Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (vs. Philadelphia)
- Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (vs. Dallas)
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)
- Cam Newton, Carolina (vs. New Orleans)
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Chicago)
- Deshaun Watson, Houston (at New York Jets)
ROLL THEM OUT
Derek Carr, Oakland (at Cincinnati)
Over his last two games (against Pittsburgh and Kansas City), Carr is averaging more than 300 passing yards a game with five touchdown passes and just one interception. Sunday Carr faces a Cincinnati “defense” that has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (vs. Tampa Bay)
Over his last three starts. Jackson is fantasy football’s No. 3 quarterback in Sharks League Scoring. There’s little reason to think his production won’t continue Sunday at home against a Tampa Bay defense that has struggled mightily all season long.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (at Kansas City)
Fantasy owners can’t be blamed for a little reluctance with Rivers given the Chargers’ long history of underperforming in big games. But no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks this year than Kansas City, who Rivers torched for 424 yards and three touchdowns back in Week 1.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (vs. New England)
After dropping three in a row, reeling Pittsburgh now faces a must-win game at home against New England in which Pittsburgh may not have tailback James Conner. That should force Roethlisberger to try to beat the 281 yards and two touchdowns he amassed last year against New England.
SIT THEM DOWN
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Chicago)
This may be the ultimate test of “Always Start Your Studs.“ A Hall of Fame quarterback who just set the NFL record for consecutive attempts without an interception against a Chicago defense that just completely shut down the best offense in the NFL. Rodgers isn’t in my Top 10 in Week 15.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. Arizona)
Maybe a matchup with woeful Arizona will finally break Atlanta out of its prolonged funk. But Ryan’s funk will likely continue — among NFC teams only Chicago has allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than Arizona.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at Buffalo)
It’s pretty hard to imagine fantasy owners looking to start just about anyone from Detroit given how thoroughly the Detroit offense has fallen apart. But just in case you were feeling cute, don’t — Buffalo is dead last in fantasy points given up under center this season.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (at Baltimore)
Since getting back the starting job in Tampa Bay, Winston ranks ninth in fantasy points at the quarterback position. He’ll fall from the Top 10 after Week 15 — Baltimore has the best defense in the AFC and will be fired up after losing to Kansas City in overtime last week.