Dynasty Pros Week 15 - Starts/Sleepers/Sits
By Joel Dehls
Week 15 is here, which means we are only 1 week away from fantasy championships (hopefully you don't have a week 17 championship). Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to ensure a week 15 victory. Let's get into it.
Start - Tom Brady @ Atlanta Falcons
Tom Brady has had an up and down first season in Tampa Bay. Between a brand new coaching staff, weapons, offensive philosophy, and city for the first time in 20 years, we should've seen the inconsistency coming. Brady has 3 games over 30 fantasy points, but 5 games under 15 fantasy points. That variance is something that is hard to accept from your QB1.
Thankfully, Brady gets to take on the lifeless Atlanta Falcons passing defense, who have been terrible this year. They allow the most points to the QB position (23.8), 3rd most passing yards/game (282), and the 5th most overall yards/game (390). Start Brady as a top 8 QB this week in a divisional matchup.
Sleeper - Jalen Hurts @ Arizona Cardinals
I’ve been calling for Jalen Hurts to start for almost a month now and we saw what he is capable of. In the first start of his NFL career, Hurts outplayed one of the top defenses in the NFL. Hurts wasn't amazing as a passer, as he completed just 57% of his passes for 167 yards and 1 touchdown. Where he excels is in the running game, where he rushed for over 100 yards on 18 attempts. His rushing ability makes him a safe floor play in almost any matchup.
The Arizona Cardinals are middle of the pack against QBs, as they allow just under 19 points/game to the position. We saw Hurts put up a 20 point performance against one of the best defenses in the league, as the Saints are a top 5 defense against fantasy QBs. Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Josh Allen all saw success rushing the ball against this defense, I expect the same for Hurts.
Sit - Tua Tagovailoa vs. New England Patriots
Tua has had a rocky rookie season. I’ve been critical of him at times, but looking at what is around him, it's hard to blame him if/when he struggles. Preston Williams has been out since week 10, DeVante Parker has been in and out of the lineup with hamstring injuries, and the entire RB room has battled injuries and COVID. Last week the leading receiver was Lynn Bowden Jr. who is a rookie hybrid RB/WR who was traded by the Raiders right before week 1. With that being said, Tua looked really good against a stingy KC defense, and some managers are contemplating starting the former #5 overall pick. This week against Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense, I would be staying far away.
Bill Belichick is now 21-5 against rookie QBs and a large part has to do with his defensive gameplan. He shutout the likely ROTY, Justin Herbert, and the Chargers just a few weeks ago on their way to a 45-0 victory. Additionally, the Pats allow the 3rd fewest points/game to QB’s (16.4), 7th fewest passing yards/game (218.5), and have the 7th best scoring defense. A couple QB’s I’m starting over Tua are Jalen Hurts and Phillip Rivers.
Start - Jonathan Taylor vs Houston Texans
Jonathan Taylor was my sleeper last week and he certainly woke everybody up. It was upsetting that he was only in on 58% of offensive snaps (which is somehow his 3rd highest of the season), but he made the most of it. Taylor rushed for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries. He continues to be dominant in the passing game as well, as he has the highest catch % of any running back in the NFL. Now, he gets to play the Houston Texans.
I mentioned last week how terrible the Texans rush defense has been this year, which is why David Montgmoery was my favorite RB start last week. For some reason, Montgomery only saw 11 carries, but was able to rush for 113 yards and 1 touchdown, which went for 80 yards. Taylor was one of my favorite RB prospects coming out of Wisconsin and I expect him to feast on one of the worst rushing defenses of 2020.
Sleeper - JK Dobbins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dobbins is another rookie RB that has struggled to break out because of coaching. Thankfully, the Ravens are finally starting to utilize their 2nd round pick. Against Cleveland, Dobbins saw 61% of snaps, which is the 2nd highest percentage of his season. He only rushed for 53 yards, but looked electric on every snap, and was clearly the most explosive RB on the Ravens.
The Jaguars, to nobody surprise, have been terrible on defense this year. They allow the 5th most fantasy points to RB’s (25.4), 3rd most rushing yards/game (145) and 1.2 touchdowns/game, which is the 7th most. Start Dobbins as a top 15 RB this week.
Sit - Clyde Edwards-Helaire @ New Orleans Saints
I love CEH and believe he is going to be one of the most undervalued RB’s this offseason. This week, against the 2nd best rush defense, I’m not excited to start him. While I’m not necessarily sitting CEH this week, we have to temper expectations. Although he is coming off a career high in snap %, he struggled mighty in the run game, as he only averaged 2 yards/carry against a stout Miami defense. He was able to make up for it in the receiving game, as he had 5 receptions for 59 yards, which saved his fantasy day and made him a RB2.
The Saints defense has been phenomenal this year. They allow the fewest points to fantasy RB’s (15.2), 2nd fewest rushing yards/game (89), and just 2 rushing touchdowns allowed all season. While Clyde is still a flex piece this week, he should not be considered a RB2. A few players I would start over him are David Montgomery, JK Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, and Mike Davis.
Start - Brandon Aiyuk @ Dallas Cowboys
If it wasn't for Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk could be argued as the best WR in this class. He is the WR15 on the year in points/game, right between Robert Woods and Julio Jones. Since week 4, where he started playing 80%+ of snaps, he is WR11 in fantasy points/game, making him a WR1. It's going to be interesting to see if he can keep it up next year with a healthy Kittle, Deebo, and potentially a more explosive QB that might take away some of his short yardage/running plays.
On top of Aiyuk being tremendous, he also gets to play the Dallas Cowboys this week, who have been terrible against the pass and fantasy WR’s. Dallas allows the 4th most points/game to WR’s (34) and are coming off a week where they allowed AJ Green to have 60+ yards and a touchdown. I expect Aiyuk to feast both running and catching the ball.
Sleeper - TY Hilton vs. Houston Texans
TY Hilton has had a resurgence that I never expected. From weeks 1-11 TY Hilton was WR89. From weeks 12-14, Hilton has done a complete 180, as he is WR5 over that span, right between AJ Brown and Keenan Allen. I thought Hilton was completely washed coming into this season, and I was doing my victory lap earlier in the year. Now, it's time to readjust and realize Hilton is a strong WR2 candidate weekly.
While I love what Hilton has done over the last month, his matchup against the Texans puts him in position to have another blowup week. Just 2 weeks ago, the Texans and Colts played each other. In that game, Hilton saw 11 targets, 8 receptions, and 110 yards, which are all season highs. I don't expect much to change as it's the same personnel for both teams and the Texans defense has been atrocious all year, allowing the 10th most points/game to fantasy WRs. Start Hilton as a top 20 WR this week.
Sit - Tyler Lockett @ Washington Football Team
Tyler Lockett was my start of the week last week, boy was that a mistake. At first, it seems Lockett has been inconsistent, but he hasn't. Lockett has been consistently mediocre since his huge week 7 performance against the Cardinals. Since then, he only has 1 game over 10 fantasy points. It is clear Metcalf has taken over the WR1 role and isn't going to give it back.
This week against Washington, I’m not excited about many Seattle pieces outside of Metcalf. I expect Washington's front 7 to overpower a below average offensive line and make Russell Wilson uncomfortable. Just a couple weeks ago, Washington was able to limit the Steelers big 3 WRs (Johnson, JuJu, Claypool), as none had more than 71 receiving yards. A few players I’m starting over Lockett are Aiyuk, Allen Robinson, and Robert Woods.
Start - Rob Gronkowsi @ Atlanta Falcons
Gronk is another veteran that has surprised me. After being out of football for multiple years, I wasn't expecting Gronk to be much more than a situational player for the Bucs. He has been way more for them as he has been a vital part of their offense. Gronk is currently TE11 and has been pretty reliable, as he has 5 games of 50 or more yards and 5 TD’s on the season.
The matchup against the Falcons is solid for Gronk, as the Falcons allow the 5th most points/game to TEs (12.5). In a game where I expect scoring on both sides, I want pieces of both teams' offenses, especially the Bucs as the Falcons pass defense has been terrible this year.
Sleeper - Irv Smith Jr. vs. Chicago Bears
With Kyle Rudolph ruled out, Irv Smith is a sneaky play this week. Smith is an underrated TE in his own right, but has been overshadowed because he is the backup TE in the Vikings offense. He is coming off his best game of the season, as Smith was able to rack up 63 yards on 4 receptions and topped it off with a TD against the Bucs last week.
While the Bears defense has been great all year, they have been susceptible to fantasy TEs. They allow the 4th most points to TEs (12.7). Just 2 weeks ago, TJ Hockenson was able to have 7 receptions for 84 yards. Start Smith as a top 12 TE this week.
Sit - Austin Hooper @ New York Giants
While Austin Hooper is questionable for MNF, I would not be starting him in any leagues. I was skeptical of the signing in the offseason, as it made Hooper the highest paid TE at the time and the Browns seemed set at TE. Hooper has been a huge disappointment for fantasy managers, as he is TE26 on the year, making him a waiver wire TE with a big name.
With the Browns playing the Giants this week, the only players I’m comfortable starting are Hunt and Chubb. The Giants defense has been amazing this year, especially against fantasy TEs. They are a top 10 defense against TE’s and allow less than 10 points/game to the position. A few TEs I’m starting over Hooper are Irv Smith, Eric Ebron, and Jared Cook.
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