Polak’s Picks: NFL Week 15 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson stiff arms a Houston Texans player in their first meeting this season. Photo Courtesy of Yahoo Sports at sports.yahoo.com.
The week before the fantasy football playoffs was one to remember. After there had been only three successful onside kicks all season long, four different teams recovered one last week. The cherry on top — not a single one of those teams completed the comeback.
If you thought the insanity ended there you are wrong as looking ahead to this week, the NFL has been struck by the rise in COVID-19 cases. NFL fans might be familiar with this from last season, but the NFL is bringing back Tuesday night football!
Besides all the chaos, there are some positives to talk about headed into next week. Congratulations to all the fantasy managers who lasted the regular season of the fantasy managers.
While it is an accomplishment to make the playoffs, it is time to keep the momentum headed forward into the most important moments of a fantasy football manager’s life. Here are the key players to start and sit for Week 15 of the NFL season.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals. Murray and company are no longer in sole possession of the best record in football. After three heartbreaking losses to the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers, and now the Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals now sit at a four way tie for the most wins in the league. If Arizona fans are freaking out, this week is not a time to worry as they will play the Detroit Lions who have allowed the fourth most points per game in the league. Murray is going to have a field day against the one-win Lions.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. Big Ben is no longer his true self. His mobility within the pocket has reached an all-time low as he continues to rely solely on his offensive line to protect him. This is a recipe for disaster especially in today’s NFL as opposing teams have learned to just rush him early and play short the entire game. The strategy has proven to work as Big Ben has only won one of his last four games. The aging issue is a major red flag for any fantasy managers still having faith in him, especially against the Tennessee Titans defense this week that ranks in the top half of the league in least total yards allowed per game. If you haven’t done so already, it is time to move on from Big Ben.
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars.They did it! James Robinson is finally free! The toxic and drama heavy head coach Urban Meyer was fired by the Jaguars after more allegations about him being a bad coach including kicking a player in practice had arisen. This is huge news for Robinson as Meyer was the one holding the former one-thousand yard rusher back. With Meyer out of the system, the Jaguars are ready to once again feed Robinson against the Houston Texans defense that has allowed the most rushing yards per game in the league. Brace yourself football fans because the wrath of Robinson is back.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers. Words of advice —never piss off Aaron Rodgers. The Chicago Bears learned that the hard way as once they got a little cocky after holding a lead headed into halftime, the Packers came storming back. Jones was a big contributor as he finished with 65 total yards and two touchdowns. While his performance seems fine, there are underlying issues that should cause some concern. Backup running back AJ Dillion received 10 more carries then Jones did. With an inconsistency in shares heading into an important week against the Baltimore Ravens defense that has allowed the least rushing yards per game in the league. All the problems point in the wrong direction for Aaron Jones this week.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears. The Packers still own the Bears. Since 2011, the Bears have only beaten the Packers three times. However, throughout such a rough season with Matt Nagy still as the head coach, there has been one bright spot on the team and his name is Darnell Mooney. In his second season, the Tulane prospect has filled Allen Robinson’s absence like a glove as he has posted three games with 100 or more receiving yards including two in the last three weeks. This week, he will look to continue his streak against the Minnestoa Vikings who rank seventh most receiving yards given up in the league. The full moon is in full effect as Mooney has the potential for another breakout game.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals. Another heartbreaking loss for a heartbreaking franchise. In a game that was all in favor of the Bengals, Cincinnati couldn't hold off the 49ers even after forcing overtime. Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense has been no joke, it is just hard to tell when they are clicking and when they are crashing down. This week, Cincinnati will continue falling in a tougher matchup against the Denver Broncos who have allowed the ninth least receiving yards per game in the league. Boyd is not worth the risk in an extremely important week of fantasy football.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins. What did the Dolphins inject themselves with in Week 9? After starting the season 1-7, the Fins could now jump back up to a .500 record. The secret to success has been the newfound connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle. However, this week, Waddle will be out due to the COVID-19, so the Dolphins look to rely heavily on Gesicki to be their guy. For fantasy managers, this should light up their day as the last time Waddle was out, Gesicki combined for 200 receiving yards and a touchdown over the two games. The cherry on top — Miami will face off against the Jets defense that has allowed the sixth most receiving yards per game in the league. With the Dolphins making a historic run for the playoffs, Gesicki will be a major key for fantasy managers trying to survive in the playoffs of their own.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills. As one of the most hyped up tight ends this year, Knox has been a little underwhelming. In a high powered Bills offense, Knox has only surpassed the 100 receiving yard mark once this season. With the Bills playoff chances slipping away, the team is going to start getting desperate. However, this week Knox will have a harder time getting anything going against the Carolina Panthers defense that has allowed the least receiving yards per game in the league. For fantasy managers looking for boom or bust players, Knox leans more on the bust side especially against tough Panthers secondary.
Chase McLaughlin, Cleveland Browns. Ladies and gentlemen, the most inconsistent football team in the NFL goes to the Cleveland Browns. Just like their ability to stay healthy, the Browns have been all over the place. With the help of Lamar Jackson being forced to leave the contest due to an ankle injury, the Browns pounced on the opportunity and knocked off the Baltimore Ravens to keep their playoff hopes alive. Even with the COVID-19 running rapidly through the team, McLauglin should find plenty of chances to get involved on offense against the Las Vegas Raiders defense that have allowed the second most points per game in the league. McLaughlin is a solid sleeper for fantasy managers looking for a boom or busy kicker.
Graham Gano, New York Giants. The Giants are no longer a joke, they are the entire comedy club. Each week, they inject false hope into the fans only to lead to a dumpster fire every Sunday. New York put it on full display after they got curb stomped by the Los Angeles Chargers. Through three quarters the Giants only scored seven against a team that has allowed the sixth most points in the league. For Gano, this is bad news headed into a tougher matchup against the Dallas Cowboys defense this week who rank in the top half of the league in least points allowed per game. There are plenty of other options at the kicker position than Gano in week with fantasy playoff implications.
Los Angeles Rams Defense. If one man goes down, there will be 11 others to help pick up the team. Despite losing star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the COVID-19 list, the Rams still pulled off the upset against the Arizona Cardinals. The defense capped off an amazing game with Aaron Donald getting the game winning sack to seal the game. Even as they still battle more issues with the virus, the Rams should still be able to control their next opponent in the Seattle Seahawks at home. With Russell Wilson and company scoring the 11th least points in the league, the Rams should have put them into the starting lineup immediately.
New Orleans Saints Defense. The Saints proved that they are not dead yet. While the return of star running back Alvin Kamara has been crucial, it has been the Saints defense that has stepped it up big time. The New Orleans defense shut down the New York Jets last week and hasn’t allowed a touchdown since December 2nd. However, the “Who Dats” will likely be brought back down to reality against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense that has scored the most points per game in the league. This is going to be a major clash on both sides of the ball, but for fantasy purposes, it is safe to steer clear of this game.