We’ve reached Week 15, and the fantasy playoffs are starting to heat up. There have been some very interesting developments, like Aaron Rodgers looking to return against the Panthers this week. Outside of that, though, we have a potentially very rewarding Monday Night Football game on the docket this week. Well, at least for Falcons players, anyway.
The usual caveats about Monday night games apply. If you’re considering starting an injured player (Tevin Coleman, for instance), you must have a Monday back-up on your bench before the conclusion of Sunday’s games. In this case, I’d steer you away from Coleman, but the point holds for any other players you might be considering.
Let’s take a look at some players to start and sit in your fantasy lineup during Week 15.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan is coming off two straight “dud” performances, and his fantasy season as a whole in 2017 has been lackluster at best. Still, against Tampa Bay and their league-worst passing defense, Ryan has to rank as one of the better starting options in fantasy this week. I suppose there’s always the possibility that Freeman vultures many of the TDs in the red zone, or Sanu throws another TD pass to Julio, but this match-up was without a doubt one of the most productive outings for Ryan and the Falcons’ offense in 2017. Ryan is a mid-range QB1 this week with the potential for a big game.
RB Devonta Freeman
With Coleman almost assuredly out with a concussion, Freeman will receive the incredibly lucrative full workload that Coleman enjoyed during Freeman’s absence. Freeman will be the favorite for red zone work and should receive plenty of carries in this game, especially if the Falcons manage to build a lead at some point in the contest. I only wish the RBs were getting more targets in the passing game. Start him as an RB1 this week.
WR Mohamed Sanu
Starting Julio should be a no-brainer. If you aren’t lucky enough to have Julio, however, Sanu has actually emerged as a dependable WR3/FLEX play from week-to-week. He’s got a pretty good shot at catching a TD every game, and has carved out a consistent role as Ryan’s #2 target in essentially every situation. He doesn’t have an elite, big-play ceiling, but as a dependable ~10 point option, he’s great.
WR Mike Evans
Evans burned you last week, and he’s clearly not a WR1 (for fantasy purposes) any more. But outside of him, I’m not sure that any other receiving options are trustworthy. If you have Evans, it’s likely that you have to play him, just understand that his ceiling is much more limited than it should be. Play him as a WR2 if you must, but I’d be most comfortable with him as a FLEX play with upside.
TE Austin Hooper
Hooper’s role simply isn’t consistent enough to trust in a playoff week. You’re better off looking to dart throws with high upside, like Ricky Seals-Jones in Arizona, than Hooper.
Other Falcons WRs
Again, even in an emergency, I’d still avoid playing any of the other Falcons WRs. Taylor Gabriel and Justin Hardy could maybe serve as emergency FLEX options, but there is no stable floor there whatsoever. If you really are that desperate, Hardy is the better option for PPR, Gabriel is better for standard.
QB Jameis Winston
Winston has been a turnover machine since returning from his injury, and was responsible for three last week alone (two INTs, one lost fumble). If you play in a 6-pt passing TD league, his TD production helps offset some of that, but the Falcons are actually a tough match-up for QBs in 2017. With a bad offensive line and his team officially being eliminated from the playoffs, I’d avoid Winston this week outside of 2-QB leagues.
WR DeSean Jackson
What a free agent bust Jackson has been—although I’m not sure it’s even his fault. The big play threat has not carved out any kind of consistent role in the offense, and the Bucs have only managed one play of over 40 yards this season. That’s not a recipe for success for a player like Jackson, who thrives as a boom/bust big play receiver. I wouldn’t trust him this week against a formidable Falcons’ secondary.
RB Doug Martin
Martin has failed to demonstrate any consistent ability to run the ball since returning from his suspension. He’s looked decent at times and managed to pile up yardage and a few TDs, but almost never at the same time. That limits him to about the 6-8 point range every week, which is not worth starting. You’re better off looking for a higher upside dart throw than trotting Martin out there this week.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
Bucs’ RB Peyton Barber
Barber has, in some ways, actually taken over the starting RB job in Tampa Bay. He’s looked like a better and more dynamic runner than Martin since then, and although he hasn’t really had dominant point totals, he’s been a solid player. With Martin back, his ceiling is definitely capped (Martin vultured a TD last week), but Barber could be a solid FLEX play for you against a Falcons’ defense that still has off games against the run from time to time.
Good luck to you in all your fantasy leagues this week. I, unfortunately, lost in the first round in all of my leagues...so, this is all for you guys. Curse you Jimmy Graham!
At any rate, I’m still happy to answer any fantasy or lineup questions you may have. Feel free to send them to me @FalcoholicKevin on Twitter.