It’s Week 15. Hopefully, you’re still alive in Round 2 of the fantasy playoffs. Maybe you, like me,
had Melvin Gordon, Julio Jones, and Donte Moncrief on the same team and died lost in some leagues due to extenuating circumstances. Maybe you’re trying to avoid the dreaded “sacko,” or last place punishment.
Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
If you own Falcons players, this is the week you likely circled as your ace-in-the-hole match-up. Atlanta takes on the 49ers on Sunday, who are absolutely dreadful in fantasy and real-life defense. Several players are poised for excellent fantasy performances, and this has the potential to be one of the highest-scoring match-ups of the week.
On the 49ers side, the cupboard is pretty bare, but there are some mildly-interesting sleeper options. WR Torrey Smith is out, and LT Joe Staley is doubtful, seriously limiting the ceiling on the San Francisco offense. However, the Falcons have been pretty forgiving to opposing offenses, particularly in fantasy, leaving the door open for some FLEX-worthy plays.
Let’s take a look at which players you should consider starting and sitting this week.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan returns to the Georgia Dome coming off an excellent performance against the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers have literally the worst defense in the NFL, setting up Ryan for a tremendous fantasy outing. Yes, Julio Jones is still out, but last week proved that Ryan is perfectly capable of producing without him. Ryan is one of the safest QB plays this week, and is an elite QB1 against the lowly 49ers.
RB Devonta Freeman and RB Tevin Coleman
While the split between these two proved problematic last week (if you were the Freeman owner, that is), the absolutely putrid San Francisco run defense leaves room for both RBs to have great fantasy days. Freeman is an RB1 with a higher floor, and Coleman is an RB2 with great upside. It wouldn’t be shocking if both produced RB1 numbers this week.
WR Taylor Gabriel
If you own Gabriel, he has been a godsend for your fantasy team. He’s a DeSean Jackson-esque boom/bust WR that has boomed 4 out of the past 5 weeks. With Jones out, he remains a primary pass catcher for Ryan, and may receive more targets than normal. With the 49ers poor run D, Gabriel also may see more work in the screen and jet-sweep game. Start him as a WR2 this week because of his fantastic upside.
RB Carlos Hyde
Pretty much the only dependable fantasy asset on the 49ers, Hyde has been performing remarkably well for a team that has a bad OL and has literally nothing to play for. He has also received a steady workload, even when the 49ers are trailing, giving him a dependable floor. Hyde should definitely be in your lineup as a high-end RB2.
QB Colin Kaepernick
This is a very risky play, because Kaepernick has been downright awful the past two weeks. But with the very rough QB situation this week, you may be searching for a high-upside play to replace someone like Brees, Stafford, Carr, or Luck. Well, Kaep has had a few good games before his duds, and the Falcons are among the worst at giving up points to QBs. Again, it’s risky, but the path to a good fantasy day is certainly there.
It’s the same story as the past several weeks. The Falcons seem hell-bent on spreading out their TE touches in such a way that it makes it impossible for you to feel confident in starting any of them. Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo will both get some work, but there’s no way of knowing which will be more productive. You’re better off finding a more interesting option on the waiver wire.
WR Mohamed Sanu
Sanu is supposedly returning this week, which is great for the Falcons offense. However, he’s coming off a groin injury, and will probably be limited for his first game back. It’s against the 49ers—so it’s possible he could have a decent game—but he’s a WR3/FLEX at best, and isn’t worth the dart throw outside of PPR leagues. I’d look to options like Dontrelle Inman over Sanu this week.
WR Jeremy Kerley
Kerley has had a few decent fantasy games up to this point, but you definitely should not trust him in the fantasy playoffs. It’s likely he will draw Robert Alford in coverage, and Alford should have little trouble containing him. I would look elsewhere for WR help this week.
WR Quinton Patton
This is essentially the same story as Kerley, except Patton will be drawing impressive rookie CB Brian Poole. The Falcons pass rush should feast on a very poor 49ers OL, making passing outside of quick dump-offs very difficult. It’s possible Patton could have a decent day in PPR, but you’re better off looking to higher-upside players.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
49ers’ TE Garrett Celek
Look, TE is an absolute barren wasteland at this point in the season (unless you have Travis Kelce, who would’ve thought that at the beginning of the season?). Stars, like Gronk, are hurt, and others (Graham, Olsen) are under-performing. It’s understandable if you’re desperate for a TE play going into Week 15. Well, if you’re looking to get really spicy, I guarantee you that Garrett Celek is available on waivers this week. It’s a TE against the Falcons, which means he has a better than 50% chance to catch a TD pass on Sunday. There isn’t much upside here, but with starter Vance McDonald going to IR, there is literally nobody else there. It’s a desperation play, but you could do worse.
I wish you all the best of luck on Sunday, and let’s all hope for a much less injury-marred week. As always, you can ask me any and all fantasy questions on Twitter @FalcoholicKevin.