We’ve spent some of the focus in these columns planning for the future with potential waiver-wire moves or possible trade targets. Well, the future is clearly now. In most fantasy football leagues, Week 15 likely brings a playoff game.
With that in mind, let’s highlight players to get into your lineup and a few to possibly avoid.
In many cases, starting the players who got you here is likely the best way to go. One approach to consider: If you sit a player, and they deliver with a strong performance, can you rest easy in the offseason knowing you didn’t connect on your top players in the most important week of the season? If not, keep them locked in.
With that, let’s get to the Week 15 action including a few players that could make the difference. Remember there are two Saturday games this week.
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▪ You would have to start Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) cold after two months off, but Rodgers is just too great not to be willing to take that chance. Rodgers was the fourth-best fantasy quarterback through Week 5 before breaking his collarbone.
▪ Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco) has completed 67 percent of his passing attempts as a 49er. His past two games, if stretched to a full season, would net 5,016 passing yards. Garoppolo has just one touchdown the past two weeks but that should change for the better this week at home against a relatively soft Tennessee pass defense.
▪ If you lost Carson Wentz, you may need to start his replacement, Nick Foles (Philadelphia). It’s worth a shot. Philadelphia puts a lot of offensive talent around Foles, a veteran who has enjoyed success in the past.
▪ Carolina is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards, but you can’t sit Jamaal Williams (Green Bay) who has been the second-most productive fantasy running back the past three weeks with five touchdowns and high involvement in the passing game.
▪ Kenyan Drake (Miami) – the No. 4 running back the past two weeks – is in near must-start territory against a Buffalo defense that has allowed more than 145 rushing yards in five of its past six games.
▪ It’s hard to believe, but Kareem Hunt (Kansas City) last week collected just his first touchdown since Sept. 24. Keep Hunt dialed in this week against the Chargers, who have allowed 124.8 rushing yards per week (fourth-most).
▪ Michael Thomas (New Orleans) is about as must-start as they come. He’s averaging 7.1 receptions and 84 yards over his past eight games and has scored in back-to-back games.
▪ Brandin Cooks (New England) averaged 79 yards in his first 11 games as a Patriot, but just 28 yards over his past two weeks. However, you can’t sit Cooks in what has the potential to be a shootout.
▪ Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) hasn’t scored a touchdown in six straight weeks and hasn’t topped 100 yards even one time this season. Still, Evans is tough to sit at home, especially if you want to save one final should-be elite player for Monday night’s game.
▪ Marquise Goodwin (San Francisco) has quietly turned into a solid fantasy starter. Goodwin has gone for at least 78 yards in four straight games.
▪ Out of the playoff picture, it’s certainly possible that the Buccaneers continue to see what they have in O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay). In the five games where Howard has seen at least four targets, he averages 64 yards and has five touchdowns.
▪ Alex Smith (Kansas City) falls off the starter radar in Week 15 against a Chargers defense that has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
▪ Tevin Coleman (Atlanta) is a tough start this week. Still going through the concussion protocol, a Monday night start makes pregame tracking and strategy too challenging. Also, Devonta Freeman is back dominating snaps.
▪ Sterling Shepard (NY Giants) had some big moments earlier in the season but there is too much uncertainty here after collecting just three targets last week.
▪ Kendall Wright (Chicago) surprised with 10 receptions last week. However, he’s just too inconsistent to trust in crunch time.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.