Start ’em, Sit ’em Week 15: Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson highlight start/sits this week

    With fantasy football championships just a week away, there is no room for error in your Week 15 start ’em and sit ’em decisions. Let’s take a look at the week ahead using our Fantasy Football Consistency Score (CS) and Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (D-PAC). Using these metrics, we will highlight the best and worst Week 15 matchups to let you know whether you should consider the likes of Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson as start ’em or sit ’em options.

    What is Consistency Score and the Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score?

    If you would like more detailed information on how the CS and D-PAC works, please refer to the Introduction to the Fantasy Football Consistency Score. However, the premise is mostly straightforward. The higher the CS, the more consistent a player is scoring high-level fantasy points. In the case of D-PAC, the higher the number, the more consistently that team allows high-level fantasy points to the position.

    PSA: I don’t feel the need to tell you, the savvy fantasy football manager, to start a player like Patrick Mahomes every week. I abide by the golden rule: start your studs. However, if there is glaring evidence to sit a bona fide starter, we will discuss that as needed.

    Quarterbacks to start/sit in fantasy football Week 15

    Start ’em – Lamar Jackson

    Despite being the 2019 MVP, both in the NFL and in fantasy football, Lamar Jackson is a topic for start ’em sit ’em in Week 15 because managers just haven’t been able to fully trust Jackson this season. He’s the 25th ranked quarterback in terms of Fantasy Point Differential (FPD) and 13th in total fantasy points. His average points per game have fallen 7.4 points, from 27.7 from last season to 20.3 ahead of Monday Night Football in Week 14.

    But Jackson’s season feels starker than it is. In terms of fantasy points per game, he ranks inside the top 10, coming in ninth. And his 10.11 CS ranks seventh overall. Jackson’s 2019 fantasy season was one for the record books. And because it was so good, his 2020 season feels like a letdown despite being completely solid. 

    Jackson’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars

    Even so, if a fantasy football manager is still debating whether to start or sit Jackson look no further than his Week 15 matchup, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are traveling to Baltimore and bringing with them the highest D-PAC score versus quarterbacks, 12.01, and the third-highest average points allowed at 21.58.

    On the season, this defense is allowing the second-highest completion percentage, the highest yards per attempt, and are in a three-way tie for the most passing touchdowns allowed. They just let Ryan Tannehill put up 212 passing yards and two passing touchdowns on a day the Titans as a team rode on Derrick Henry’s shoulders to victory.

    Speaking of Henry, he had quite the afternoon in Jacksonville. Henry rushed for 215 yards, 8.3 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. The fact that the Jaguars couldn’t slow Henry down bodes well for Jackson, who is always a threat on the ground himself. Jackson should be able to move the ball with ease on this defense, ground or air.

    I know, I know. Lamar Jackson left in the fourth quarter of Monday Night Football due to “cramps”. He also returned later that quarter. I have zero belief that will keep Jackson out of Week 15.

    Sit ’em – Deshaun Watson

    It’s hard to move Deshaun Watson to the bench. But for managers wanting to advance to the championship round, it’s a smart move. On the season, Watson is second overall in CS with a score of 11.54. His positive 21% FPD is also top 10 (QB7, to be specific). But fantasy football managers need to be flexible when situations change, especially at this time of the year. 

    Watson is bereft of any real receiving weapons with DeAndre Hopkins traded away and Will Fuller suspended. Since Fuller’s suspension, Watson has yet to post a week with 20 or more fantasy points. The offense as a whole has stalled, having only scored a combined 27 points over the last two weeks.

    Houston travels to Indianapolis, where the Colts defense has been one of the stoutest against fantasy quarterbacks all season. The Colts D-PAC of 5.24 ranks 28th while their average points allowed to the position, 15.82, ranks 27th.

    As a team, they are tied for the third-fewest passing touchdowns allowed and the third-most interceptions. This is possibly the worst timing for an undermanned Watson to be taking on a stout Indianapolis Colts defense, and managers with Watson should be seeing if they have any alternative at quarterback.

    Which running backs should you start/sit in fantasy football Week 15?

    Start ’em – Mike Davis

    If we remove games where Christian McCaffrey started in 2020, Mike Davis’s CS raises from 4.12 to 5.04. That CS would be good enough for 14th among all running backs. With Week 16 seemingly the earliest McCaffrey sees the field again, Davis gets another week to lead the ground game.

    In Week 14, Davis scored twice and racked up 93 yards from scrimmage for 23.8 fantasy points in half-point PPR formats. That strong outing made him the fourth-highest scoring running back entering Monday night.

    Related | Week 15 RB Rankings: Christian McCaffrey headlines sleepers, must starts, busts

    In Week 15, the Carolina Panthers head to Lambeau for a Saturday evening matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers hold the sixth-highest D-PAC score against running backs with 12.12. They have also been allowing an impressive 28.72 average to the running back position, which is fifth in the NFL.

    If you combine the three-headed beast that is the Detroit Lions running backs, they scored 24.3 fantasy points on 19 total touches. Davis isn’t splitting the workload as long as CMC is injured. That means he gets the full benefit of the Packers’ generous run defense.

    Sit ’em – Ezekiel Elliott

    It’s hard to comprehend just how bad of a fantasy first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott has been this season. Zeke is supposed to be matchup-proof, let alone someone like me recommending you bench him in a Week 15 start ’em sit ’em column. Elliott has only been a top-24 fantasy option in 50% of games played this season. His -11% FPD ranks 65th, and his 4.49 CS is 20th. Let’s be honest, if you made it to the semi-finals with Elliott, it was despite him, not because of him.

    To make matters worse, the Dallas Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers Sunday morning. The 49ers rank 28th in both average points allowed and D-PAC to the position. They are allowing 3.9 yards per carry and only eight rushing touchdowns on the season. In Week 14, Zeke managed a measly 6.9 fantasy points against the much friendlier Cincinnati Bengals defense. If he couldn’t manage double-digit points against the Bengals, you can’t expect more versus San Francisco.

    What receivers should you start ’em/sit ’em in fantasy football for Week 15?

    Start ’em – Brandon Aiyuk

    It’s hard to trust starting a rookie in the fantasy football playoffs, but managers simply can’t sit Brandon Aiyuk right now. Since Week 7, Aiyuk is averaging 16.94 points per game. His CS over that time would be 18.46, which is the best for any receiver over that time span, and he has a positive 20% FPD on the season.

    With Deebo Samuel potentially missing the rest of the regular season with a hamstring injury, Aiyuk is in line for a huge workload. In games without Samuel, Aiyuk is averaging over 10 targets per game.

    Related | Week 15 WR Rankings: Terry McLaurin headlines fantasy sleepers, must starts, busts

    On top of being the go-to guy in a Kyle Shanahan offense, the 49ers take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15. The Cowboys secondary is tied for the most receiving touchdowns allowed. They have the sixth-highest D-PAC against receivers and the fifth-highest average fantasy points allowed. This secondary is a glaring weak spot for the Cowboys, and Aiyuk is going to get plenty of opportunities to take advantage of it.

    Sit ’em – Tyler Lockett

    Sitting Tyler Lockett always feels like you’re jarring a highly volatile explosive compound of some sort. It could very well blow up in your face. Or, more apt, on your bench. His 11th-highest CS is buoyed by his impressive ceiling of 45.5 points. Examining further and he has only been a top 24 receiver in 38% of games played. For three straight weeks, Lockett hasn’t even hit double digits in half-point PPR formats. Over the past four weeks, DK Metcalf has out targeted Lockett 34 to 27.

    In a Week 15 matchup against the Washington Football Team, you don’t want to have to lean on Lockett for your fantasy football playoff hopes. The Washington Football team finds themselves in the top 10 when it comes to fewest receiving yards allowed (8th), lowest yards per reception (7th), and fewest receiving touchdowns allowed (T-5th). Their 13.67 D-PAC and 32.66 average points allowed to receivers is the fourth-lowest in fantasy as well.

    In a game that is tied for the second-lowest over/under, fantasy points are going to be fewer and far between. That likely leaves Lockett as the odd man out.

    Which tight ends should you trust or be cautious of in Week 15?

    Start ’em – Rob Gronkowski

    It took a few weeks before the previously-retired Rob Gronkowski found his form once more. But Gronkowski has turned into Tom Brady’s security blanket all over again and a clear “must-start” for the fantasy semi-finals.

    Sure, in years past, no self-respecting fantasy football analyst could put Gronkowski in their Week 15 start ’em sit ’em columns. But 2020 has been a different kind of year, in more ways than one. And Gronk has not always been a clear top-tier tight end in 2020. His 2.24 CS ranks 18th. His positive 3% FPD ranks 15th, and he’s been a top-12 TE as often as he’s been outside the top 24, 38% of games played in both cases.

    But in Week 15, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Atlanta Falcons in a game with a tantalizing 51.5 over/under line. The Falcons secondary has been marginally better as of late. They are, however, still one of the friendlier matchups versus tight ends. Their 5.13 D-PAC score ranks eighth, and their 15.33 average points allowed ranks fifth.

    For a tight end, who has been getting a steady target volume (5.5 average targets over the past nine games) and a favorite red zone weapon of Brady, this is a perfect storm in terms of fantasy points.

    Sit ’em – Mike Gesicki

    Mike Gesicki has been a target monster as of late, and it’s hard to believe we are debating whether to start or sit Gesicki in the fantasy football playoffs. With the fifth-highest total points at the position on the season, it’s especially hard to imagine there are better options. But unless Travis Kelce or Darren Waller is on your roster, it’s the smart move to stream the position. 

    With six games this season of fewer than six fantasy points, Gesicki has just as low a floor as anyone else, despite the tear he has been on for the last three weeks. But with a Week 15 matchup against the New England Patriots, that streak is coming to an end.

    The Patriots have been snuffing out tight ends all year long. Their average points allowed to the position is a measly 8.88, which is the third-lowest. And their 3.54 D-PAC is the seventh-lowest. Eight out of their 13 games played, they haven’t allowed double-digit fantasy points to the tight end position. Factor in Gesicki is clearly their top offensive weapon as of late, and Bill Belichick loves to erase that player from the game plan. 

    Given that Gesicki comes into this week injured, fantasy managers need to be making plans for his absence regardless of the matchup. However, even if Gesicki is present, this matchup is one fantasy managers should pivot away from.

    Want more fantasy football analysis and news?

    Be sure to follow us on Twitter @PFN365 to stay up to date with all things around the NFL and the 2020 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

    Did you like this piece? Disagree? Drop me a line and let me know @DumpsterDiveFF and go ahead and follow for more fantasy football nuggets & all things Consistency Score related.

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