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IDP Nation: Week 15

by Jeff Ratcliffe
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

We’re now in the thick of the playoffs, and my wife is one week closer to getting the TV back on Sundays.


If you’re still reading this, you likely still have at least one team alive. Congratulations on your season so far, but I know that reaching Week 15 isn’t your end goal.


Remember, the key to victory in fantasy sports is making the smartest possibly plays. Just like on an exam in school, you’re first choice is usually the right answer. Don’t over think your roster decisions and allow paralysis from over analysis to set in. Start your studs and make the highest percentage plays this week. Getting cute has ended many a fantasy season.


Like we do every week, let’s take a look at what’s going on around the league before we look at the matchups for Week 15.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 15's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Sunday, December 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link


The Low Down

News broke late on Tuesday evening that the Saints have benched Kenny Vaccaro. While this may come as a suprise, it shouldn't. Vaccaro has been arguably one of the worst safeties in the league this season. I'm not dropping him dynasty leagues, but his redraft value is shot at this point. For those looking to replace Vaccaro rookie Pierre Warren should be strongly considered. In three starts, Warren has 22 total tackles, while Vaccaro put up 17 tackles during that span. 


Giants LB Devon Kennard probably stands out on your waiver wire this week, but I’d recommend leaving him there. While the rookie did post two sacks to go along with six tackles, he only played slightly over 50 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps. He’s unlikely to see an every-down role, and I really doubt we see him repeat this performance. However, I would look to get my hands on Damontre Moore, who has three sacks in three last three games. With Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers on injured reserve, Moore is seeing a lot of action. He’s a high ceiling dart to throw at defensive lineman.


Surprisingly, it was Rolando McClain in the every-down role for the Cowboys on Thursday night with Anthony Hitchens rotating off the field in the dime packages. McClain posted an impressive 10 solo tackles against the Bears. He’s edged ahead of Hitchens as the preferred IDP option among the Dallas linebackers. That being said, there’s still plenty of uncertainty the Cowboys linebackers. I wouldn’t want to trust either player as anything more than a borderline LB2.


Jon Bostic remained the Bears lone every-down option, posting seven total tackles (five solo) against Dallas. Bostic is likely still floating around on plenty of waiver wires. He makes for a intriguing upside LB3 for those in need in the fantasy playoffs.


If you’re still hanging on to LaRon Landry, it’s time to cut bait. Landry hasn’t started a game since returning from suspension in Week 11. The Colts continue to use Landry in a rotation with Sergio Brown, which means neither play has any fantasy value.



Injury Ward

While Lavonte David was able to get back on the field, the Bucs declared Mason Foster inactive with an Achilles injury. Danny Lansanah ended up being the lone every-down option, as David left the game with a possible concussion toward the end of the third quarter. Obviously, this has massive implications for the fantasy playoffs, so we’ll keep a close eye on his status throughout the week. David owners may want to proactively pick up Lansanah. He’d be a top 15 play if David and Foster are both sidelined this week.


The Jets were without Muhammad Wilkerson (toe) in Week 14, but it didn’t hurt Sheldon Richardson. The second-year man posted three sacks on five QB pressures. Wilkerson is attempting to practice in a special shoe this week, but his status is still very much up in the air.


With Karlos Dansby still out with an MCL sprain, Craig Robinson remained the Browns’ lone every-down linebacker. Robertson had himself a day against the Colts in Week 14, posting 12 total tackles (10 solo) and an impressive pick-six. It’s still a bit early to tell if Dansby will be back this week, but if he doesn’t suit up Robertson makes for an upside play.


Just one week after returning to play, William Moore is injured again. He left early in Monday night’s contest with a foot injury. There’s no indication to the severity of the injury, but it’s probably a good idea to avoid Moore in the fantasy playoffs. Dwight Lowery put up big numbers with Moore out, but they came in a very strong matchup. He’s not worth picking up this week.


Danny Trevathan is due back this week. So what do we do with Brandon Marshall? I doubt Denver uses Trevathan as an every-down option this week, which means we can likely get at least on more week out of Marshall. However, we’ll update the news feed if there’s any indication the Broncos have other plans.


Ryan Shazier still hasn’t managed to get back on the field for the Steelers. With your fantasy playoff life on the line, it’s going to be really tough to trust him if he does end up returning this week.


Likewise, Vontaze Burfict remains sidelined. There are rumblings that his knee scope was so “routine” after all. I’d plan on not seeing Burfict for the remainder of the season. In his absence, Vincent Rey has emerged as the best fantasy option in Cincinnati. Last week, Rey posted 15 total tackles (six solo), which was his fourth double-digit tackle performance in the last five games. Continue to rely on Rey as long as Burfict is out.


Anthony Barr missed Week 14 with a knee injury. Gerald Hodges ended up getting the start and posted strong fantasy numbers thanks to a pick-six. Hodges wasn’t every-down, so he shouldn’t be considered as anything more than an upside LB3 if Barr can’t go this week.


Will Compton started in place of Keenan Robinson and posted an impressive 14 total tackles (nine solo). Robinson missed practice all last week, so signs point to this potentially being a multi-week injury. Keep a close eye on his practice status, and make sure you have a backup plan in place if you own Robinson.



Week 14 Pass Rushers

Paul Kruger posted a sack on six QB pressures. Kruger now has nine sacks on the season. ... Jacquies Smith continued to roll, posting two sacks on five QB pressures. That’s five sacks in the last four games for Smith. ... Ziggy Ansah is emerging as one of the league’s best pass rushers. He had a sack on seven QB pressures against the Bucs. ... Of course, that’s not quite as impressive as J.J. Watt’s three sacks on eight QB pressures. #WattForMVP. ... Elvis Dumervil is having a fantastic season. He now sits with 16 sacks after posting 3.5 in Week 14. ... Charles Johnson failed to notch a sack, but he did post seven QB pressures. Keep starting him. The sacks will come. ... Likewise, Jurrell Casey came up empty on seven QB pressures. He remains a DL2. ... Jason Pierre-Paul is on a tear with 3.5 sacks over the last two weeks. He’s playing for a contract, so expect the numbers to keep coming down the stretch. ... Speaking of playing for a contract, Justin Houston is going to get paid this offseason. The elite edge rusher now has 16 sacks after notching two more in Week 14. ... All of Robert Quinn’s 10.5 sacks have come in the last eight games. He’s on fire right now, so don’t even think about sitting him. ... Not surprisingly, the Bills failed to notch a sack on Denver. Peyton Manning doesn’t take a lot of sack, and the Broncos’ recent run-heavy approach means even fewer opportunities for opposing pass rushers.



Other Week 14 Observations

Telvin Smith posted a modest five total tackles, but two of them were for a loss and he also added a pass defensed. Keep rolling with Smith. ... Reshad Jones has double-digit tackles in each of his last two games, and currently sits with 62 tackles in nine games played this season. That’s 110 tackles when extrapolated over an entire season. ... Dawan Landry is only playing a part-time role and should not be trusted for fantasy purposes. ... Robert Blanton has double-digit tackles in two of the last three games. ... Curtis Lofton posted a beastly 17 total tackles (11 solo). Lofton has emerged as a strong LB1 in this year where so many top linebackers have gotten injured. ... Tony Jefferson is playing every-down with Tyrann Mathieu sidelined. Those in a pinch at defensive back may want to take a look at Jefferson. ... Chris Borland did it again. He now has 94 total tackles in his seven games as a starter. Only 23 players have more tackles for the entire season. ... Sio Moore managed just one tackle against the 49ers, but don’t downgrade Moore. His lack of production was the product of San Francisco’s inabilities on offense and not a sign of declining play. ... Likewise, there weren’t a lot of tackle opportunities for the Seahawks, but Bobby Wagner still managed seven total tackles. ... Fletcher Cox posted a career-high 11 total tackles against Seattle. Cox played extremely well, but regression is almost a certainty for him. ... Jamie Collins exploded for to sacks to go along with nine total tackles. He’s a borderline LB1 this week.



Plus Matchups


Lawrence Timmons hasn’t been the most productive fantasy option over his last three games, but I’d lean toward starting him against a Falcons team that currently gives up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers. ... Likewise, you’re going to want to make sure Chad Greenway is in your lineup. He faces the Lions, who yield the most tackles per game to linebackers. ... Avery Williamson makes for a strong start against the run-heavy Jets, though I wouldn’t want to trust Wesley Woodyard this week. Without subpackage snaps, Woodyard’s production is just too volatile. ... Carolina has also been a strong matchup for linebackers as of late, so whoever plays in for Tampa should be in your starting lineup. Danny Lansanah is a solid stash if you need an upside play. ... I also like Jon Bostic against the Saints, provided New Orleans can actually get something going on offense this week.


Defensive Lineman

Keep rolling with Everson Griffen. This week he faces a Lions team that has yielded the second-most sacks to defensive linemen in 2014. ... Mike Daniels makes for a sneaky play on the road in Buffalo this week. The Bills are currently the No. 1 fantasy matchup for defensive ends. ... Looking for sacks this week? You might want to roll the dice on Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril. They get a 49ers team that has surrendered the most sacks to defensive ends this season.


Defensive Back

We downgraded Barry Church last week, but it’s time to fire him back up again. Philly is the No. 1 fantasy matchup for defensive backs. ... Reshad Jones against the Patriots is arguably this week’s top defensive back play. ... Those in a pinch at defensive back may want to take a look at Ryan Clark. The veteran is coming off a very productive performance and faces a Giants team that currently yields the second-most fantasy points per game to defensive backs. ... I’d also consider Aaron Williams and Da’Norris Searcy in a strong matchup against the Packers and playing in the tackle-friendly confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium.


Matchup Downgrade


Sorry Luke Kuechly owners, but the all-world linebacker gets a terrible matchup this week against a Bucs team that gives up the second-fewest tackles to linebackers on a per-game basis. ... I’d look to avoid the Jets linebackers against Tennessee. The Titans currently yield the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers. ... James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree get a poor matchup in Week 15 against a struggling Arizona running game that is now without Andre Ellington. ... This isn’t the week to roll the dice on Jameel McClain. Washington has been one of the worst matchup for linebackers this season.


Defensive Lineman

Drew Brees and the Saints don’t yield many sacks to defensive ends, so it’s a good week to fade Jared Allen and Willie Young. ... Likewise, you’re not throwing a dart at Corey Liuget against the Broncos. ... I’m also not crazy about the other side of this matchup, as the Chargers give up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to defensive linemen. I don’t think you can sit DeMarcus Ware, but be forewarned that the matchup is poor.


Defensive Back

Ron Parker is on an absolute tear, but I’m not crazy about him this week up against the Raiders. Oakland is currently the No. 30 fantasy matchup for defensive backs. ... I wouldn’t look to roll the dice with Will Hill this week. He faces a Jags team that has yielded the fewest tackles per game to defensive backs this season. ... Roman Harper shouldn’t be in your  lineup against the Bucs for the same reason.

Jeff Ratcliffe
Jeff Ratcliffe is a football writer and IDP analyst for Rotoworld as well as the Assistant Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter.