Five Players to Play At Your Own Risk in Week 15
Welcome to the fantasy football playoffs. It seems like only yesterday the season began and now managers are staring at the next three weeks of crucial start/sit decisions for the fantasy football championship. Luckily, there are no more teams on a bye, but there was another round of injuries to key players to deal with. To help with who to start, here are five players who should be faded in Week 15.
Remember, these are fades and not players that are considered a must-sit. These players are facing bad matchups that limit their safety as well as upside and should be played at your own risk.
Writer’s note: My saying still holds true. Always go with your gut.
D.J. Chark - WR Detroit Lions
The Lions are quickly becoming America’s favorite Cinderella story for 2022. Under Dan Campbell this season, Detroit has become a powerhouse offense with a solid passing, receiving, and run game. Jared Goff has done an excellent job at sustaining multiple fantasy scorers. However, the Lions have a tough test ahead of them in Week 15 against the New York Jets.
The Jets are tied for the second-fewest touchdowns allowed to wide receivers over the last four weeks on just 37 receptions. That averages to a paltry 10.2 receptions to the position per game this season. There is, however, a bright spot. They have allowed over 118 yards per game and 400 over the last four weeks. That suggests a lot of chunk plays in between the 20s.
There are a few issues with D.J. Chark that managers need to be aware of. First, there are a lot of mouths to feed in that offense like target monster Amon-Ra St. Brown and rookie Jameson Williams who is quickly coming into his own in the Lions’ offense. The other issue is Goff. He has a tendency to struggle outdoors and in the cold, two things that the Jets have in their favor at home.
By no means do I think that Chark is a must-sit player. But, if you do have him in your lineup, understand he can goose you as easily as score a touchdown, which he will need in order to be fantasy relevant.
Tyler Higbee - TE Los Angeles Rams
All right, pretty much every Los Angeles Ram should be faded but I feel it’s necessary to specifically point out two players that I get questions about daily.
First, let’s address the passing game. Yes, Baker Mayfield started on Thursday night and dramatically led them to victory. However, it was Ben Skowronek who led the team in receptions and yards and Tutu Atwell led in targets. Tyler Higbee logged only two receptions on three targets for 11 yards. That is four games of 6.5 points or less in half-PPR scoring.
Add the lack of targets to the sub-zero temperatures in Green Bay and it equals disaster. The Packers are ranked eighth-best on the season allowing 44 completions on 62 targets for 387 yards and six touchdowns. That is tied for the fewest receptions with the Bears and is stand-alone for the fewest yards allowed to tight ends. The lack of targets, Mayfield, the weather, and the staunch Packers defense vs. TE are more than enough to fade to Higbee.
Cam Akers - RB Los Angeles Rams
Sticking with the Rams, let’s include Cam Akers in the fade column. While I don’t think Akers is a horrible start, there are certainly better options at your disposal (unless you’re in deeper leagues). As a pickup off the waiver wire, he has been a hit-or-miss flex option and this matchup is more on the miss side of the equation.
The cold, as previously mentioned, lends itself to the run game, but the Rams aren’t accustomed to cold weather. Plus, they don’t have anything to play for except pride. D’Onta Foreman, Rachaad White, or even Raheem Mostert are better options.
Geno Smith - QB Seattle Seahawks
This hurts, but Geno Smith is a fade this week against San Francisco. The 49ers held Tom Brady in check in Week 14 with a 61.8% pass completion percentage on 55 attempts for 34 completions, 253 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. That was a paltry 10.12 points. That was also Brady’s fourth-fewest passing yards this season.
Smith has been marvelously and consistently above average this season replacing Russell Wilson. He gets anywhere between 17.2 points to over 30. That is, however, with the exception of Week 2 when they played none other than the 49ers and he scored a whopping 6.08.
San Francisco has renewed vigor with Brock Purdy under center and that gusto reverberates throughout the entire team. That includes the defense who quickly had Purdy’s back when he was named the starting quarterback.
If you have to play Smith, surround the rest of your lineup with high-upside options and a few safe-floor options and pray.
D.J. Moore and Marquise Brown - WRs Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals
Since it is the holiday season, why not add a sixth player to be wary of in Week 15? Both D.J. Moore and Hollywood Brown should be considered risky starts this week due to matchups and backup quarterbacks.
The Carolina Panthers named Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback in Week 12 and he threw 11 completions on 19 attempts for 164 yards and a touchdown. Moore was the primary beneficiary of the swap and he scored 18.3 points on six targets, four receptions, 103 yards, and a touchdown. All should have been merry and bright for Moore after the bye when Darnold and the offense had a chance to get reps during the break. That was grossly not the case. In Week 14, he gave managers a goose egg on just three targets. Laviska Shenault was the target leader with just four while the Panthers kept the ball on the ground against the Seahawks.
Moore’s outlook isn’t all doom and gloom, but managers should be very wary. He has a much better matchup this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers who are ranked 26th worst on the season. However, over the last four weeks, the Steelers have allowed only two touchdowns, 40 completions, and 514 yards to the position.
Marquise Brown didn’t have a terrible day with Colt McCoy under center, but the fantasy score left much to be desired. He saw eight targets for four receptions and 34 yards, which amounted to only 5.4 points in half-PPR. That’s not going to cut it in the playoffs. McCoy is a veteran backup and should be serviceable for the rest of the season, but he limits the upside of every receiver on the offense, including DeAndre Hopkins.
The Cardinals take on the staunch Denver Broncos in Week 15 and the outlook is bleak for Brown.