Thomason: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em For Week 15

Ryan Tannehill and James White have favorable matchups this week.

Jack Thomason
December 11, 2019 - 11:44 am

(670 The Score) "Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em" is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.

My goal with this article is to provide you with a player to start who may not be the most obvious of starts and to share a player to sit whom you normally wouldn't consider shying away from regardless of matchup. 

Let's get to it for Week 15.


START – Ryan Tannehill, Titans (vs. Texans) Over the last four weeks, Tannehill has been the QB2 overall to only the Ravens' Lamar Jackson. He has this Titans offense rolling, and the Texans defense provides another nice matchup for fantasy purposes. Houston sits as the 31st-ranked team in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to opposing quarterbacks and 27th in pass DVOA, a metric created by Football Outsiders. Tennessee has scored 31 points or more in its last four games, including posting two contest with 42 points. The Titans are sitting on an implied team total of 26.5 points, so you might as well continue to ride the hot hand.

SIT – Josh Allen, Bills (at Steelers) Coming off a rough game against Baltimore, it isn't going to get any easier for Allen traveling to Pittsburgh. The Steelers defense ranks third in aFPA to opposing quarterbacks and fourth in pass DVOA. Not to mention that since Week 6, the Steelers have allowed only two teams to score more than 17 points. Pittsburgh also leads the league in sacks (48) and ranks second in interceptions (18) and forced fumbles (18). Allen just endured six sacks against the Ravens on Sunday, and the Bills' implied team total is just 17.75 points. 

Running back

START – James White, Patriots (at Bengals) White is one of two dependable players in New England’s offense right now. He’s coming off back-to-back weeks in which he played at least 61 percent of the snaps and has tallied a combined 20 rushing attempts for 112 yards in addition to 13 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati ranks 23rd aFPA to opposing backs and 28th in run DVOA, making White a solid play in week 15.

SIT – Le’Veon Bell, Jets (at Ravens) The Ravens defense has stifled opponents during their nine-game winning streak, during which they haven’t allowed a foe to score more than 23 points and allowed opponents to reach the 20-point mark just twice. Baltimore ranks fifth in aFPA to opposing backs, and Bell hasn’t had any running room in any game this season. If you play Bell, you're praying that he falls into the end zone on a one-yard plunge or ends up with solid total yardage due to his dual-threat ability. 


START – Darius Slayton, Giants (vs. Dolphins) Slayton has burst onto the NFL scene as a rookie and showed on Monday Night Football that he’s here to stay by grabbing five balls for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He did nothing after halftime in the loss against the Eagles, but it’s clear that Eli Manning and Daniel Jones trust Slayton as a top target in the passing game. The Giants now face a Dolphins secondary that ranks 31st in aFPA to receivers and 32nd in pass DVOA. That means Slayton is sitting pretty in another smash spot, regardless of who the quarterback is -- although there’s a good chance it’s Manning again.

SIT – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (vs. Bills) Smith-Schuster is set to return against one of the tougher matchups in the NFL after a multi-game absence. The Bills held Jackson to just 145 passing yards Sunday (although he did have three touchdowns) and rank fifth in DVOA and 13th in aFPA to receivers. While Smith-Schuster has been on the sideline, Devlin Hodges has built a rapport with Diontae Johnson and James Washington. Beyond that, James Conner is set to return as well. It’ll be interesting to see how Smith-Schuster performs with Hodges at the helm, but I’m waiting for a week to put him in my lineup unless I’m in major trouble at receiver due to injuries to the likes of Marvin Jones, Mike Evans and Calvin Ridley.

Tight end

START – Tyler Higbee, Rams (at Cowboys) There hasn’t been a better tight end over the last two weeks than Higbee, who has back-to-back games of seven receptions for more than 100 yards. Higbee has been one of the focal points in the offense with Gerald Everett sidelined with a knee injury, and he has a combined 19 targets in the last two games, which is good for second-most on the team. The Cowboys are 23rd in aFPA against the position, so unless we learn Everett is coming back and assuming a major chunk of playing time, we ride the the Higbee train.

SIT – Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (at Chargers) After scoring six touchdowns in a six-game stretch, Rudolph came back to earth Sunday with just two targets, both of which he caught for a total of 11 yards. There’s a strong likelihood Adam Thielen returns for the Vikings this week. That will take more targets away from Rudolph, whose matchup is one of the toughest on paper. The Chargers are the third best-team in aFPA against tight ends, allowing just 9.5 points per game to the position. There are other options whom you can hope to hit on in a semifinals matchup during your fantasy playoffs.

Other starts: Eli Manning (vs. Dolphins), Devonta Freeman (at 49ers), Justin Watson (at Lions) and David Njoku (at Cardinals).

Other sits: Kirk Cousins (at Chargers), Joe Mixon (vs. Patriots), Odell Beckham Jr. (at Cardinals) and Jonnu Smith (vs. Texans).

Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.​