By Matt Citak
If you are reading this, that means your fantasy football season is still alive. You are one win away from making your league’s championship, and CBS Local Sports is here to help you make it to the big game. The NFL came out of Week 14 relatively healthy, with the injury to Carson Wentz being the only significant one to occur (for fantasy purposes). For those fantasy owners who had been riding Wentz’s stellar play all season, don’t fret. There should be several solid QB streaming options for you to choose from this week. Remember, you only need to win two more games in order to make it to the Promised Land aka a fantasy championship.
With that in mind, here are CBS Local Sports Week 15 Starts and Sits.
QB: Case Keenum, Minnesota Vikings
What else does Keenum have to do before people start considering him an actual fantasy option? Going up against one of the best defenses in the league last week in the Carolina Panthers, the veteran quarterback threw for 280 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, while adding five rushes for 40 yards. It marked Keenum’s third consecutive outing with at least two touchdowns and 225 passing yards, and the fifth time in the last six games he’s accomplished this feat. Keenum has been playing the best football of his life this season, and will keep it up this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed an opposing quarterback to finish with over 18 fantasy points in three straight games, including two against rookie quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Mitchell Trubisky. Keenum will lead the Vikings to a big victory in a game Minnesota needs to remain in the hunt for a first round bye.
QB: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yup you are reading this correctly- Bortles is on this week’s start list. Just look at his last two games. Against the Colts in Week 13, Bortles completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, adding 27 yards on the ground. You can argue that the Colts defense is awful, which would be a valid argument. But Bortles followed that performance up with 268 passing yards (with a 66.7 completion percentage), two touchdowns and no interceptions against the Seahawks in Week 14. Seattle lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but they still have a solid defense. The Jaguars take on the Texans and their No. 26 ranked pass defense this week, making Bortles a legitimate streaming option for those looking for a replacement for Carson Wentz or Marcus Mariota.
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo has only started two games since being acquired by the 49ers, but he has provided San Francisco with a lot of hope. The 26-year-old quarterback has thrown for 627 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in those starts and has completed 65.7 percent of his passes. Those aren’t the most amazing stats, but considering he was just traded to San Francisco a month and a half ago, the 49ers will take it. Garoppolo has shown a ton of poise in the pocket, and seems to be developing a nice chemistry with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (see more below). The Titans aren’t the easiest matchup, but with Marcus Mariota banged up, the 49ers could find themselves with good field position throughout Sunday’s game. Garoppolo offers nice streaming appeal in Week 15.
RB: Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens
After not being able to find the end zone in any of his first nine games with the Ravens, Collins has been on a tear over the last four weeks. The second-year back has scored in each of his last four games (five touchdowns total) while finishing with at least 57 yards from scrimmage in each as well. But the last two weeks have been especially impressive for the back out of Arkansas. In matchups against the Steelers and Lions, Collins has racked up 33 carries for 195 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, along with four receptions for 69 yards, and has looked untouchable with the ball in his hands. The Ravens will play the winless Browns this week, with Baltimore needing a win to remain in the playoff picture. Cleveland has allowed an opposing running back to score double digit fantasy points seven times in the last six games, and just allowed rookie RB Jamaal Williams to finish with 27 fantasy points. Game flow should play in Collins’ favor this week, and should lead to another strong outing for the Baltimore running back.
RB: Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
Speaking of Williams, how can you not start the rookie after his last three games? Williams has picked up 228 yards and three touchdowns on the ground during that span, while adding 13 receptions for 148 yards and an additional two touchdowns. Keep in mind that all of those stats came with Brett Hundley as Green Bay’s starting quarterback. The big news this week is the return of Aaron Rodgers to the Packers’ starting lineup, which should do wonders for the team’s offense. With Rodgers under center, Williams has a chance to finish his rookie campaign off in epic fashion. The Panthers are by no means an easy matchup, but with Rodgers back on the field, Carolina will be unable to stack the box expecting the run. Williams has also proven his abilities as a receiver, and could pick up a lot of the looks that Ty Montgomery was getting earlier in the season. The rookie could end up being a borderline RB1 for the final two weeks if Rodgers can stay healthy.
RB: Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks
Davis has been able to do something that no other Seattle running back had been able to do following the injury to Chris Carson in Week 4- bring some stability to the Seahawks’ running game. Davis has two consecutive games of 15+ carries for 60+ yards, and while that may not sound that impressive, it came against two of the NFL’s best defenses in the Eagles and Jaguars. The Week 15 matchup between the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams figures to be a high-scoring affair, and with the Rams rush defense struggling like it has all season, Davis is in a great position to go off. Los Angeles ranks 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (124.1) and tied for 26th in rushing touchdowns allowed (12). As long as he can recover from the rib injury he suffered towards the end of the Jaguars game, Davis should make a solid RB2 against the Rams on Sunday.
WR: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
This should be obvious with the way he performed with Hundley under center, but in case you were considering getting cute and benching Adams this week, don’t. The fourth-year receiver has posted 19 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games with Hundley as quarterback, including securing 10 receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns in Week 14. Adams is one of the only members of the Packers’ offense that actually produced more with Hundley than with Rodgers. Let’s be clear though- Adams was the only pass-catcher to truly succeed with Hundley running the offense. Adams still caught touchdowns in three of the five games he played with Rodgers as the quarterback, and should revert back to WR1 value now that his MVP signal-caller is back. Forget about the matchup against the Panthers and fire Adams up in your lineup.
WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
If you somehow haven’t realized this already, I’m going to lay it out in simple terms: Josh Gordon is an every-week fantasy starter. Gordon enjoyed his first touchdown in nearly four years this past Sunday when he caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. This comes one week after he reeled in four receptions for 85 yards against the Chargers’ incredibly stingy secondary. From those two games alone, Gordon has jumped all the way up to No. 23 in fantasy points per game among wide receivers. The 26-year-old is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound monster that has already proven he can easily soar over defenders to make a catch. This week’s matchup against the Ravens may seem tough on paper, but Baltimore has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers since Week 10. As long as the offensive line can give Kizer some time in the pocket, Gordon is in a good position to have his first huge game since returning to the league.
WR: Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
The connection between Goodwin and Garoppolo is real. Since the latter took over as the team’s starting quarterback two weeks ago, the former has ranked 12th among wide receivers in fantasy points. Goodwin has caught 14-of-20 targets for 205 yards over the last two games, and while he hasn’t scored a touchdown with Garoppolo yet, that is bound to change as the quarterback becomes more accustomed with Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The Titans have been allowing a lot of fantasy points to wide receivers over the last six weeks, which bodes well for Goodwin’s fantasy outlook this week. Look for Goodwin to produce as a WR3 with high upside this week.
TE: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten has scored a touchdown in each of Dallas’ last two games. However, those touchdown catches were his only receptions in each game… The veteran tight end’s production has been very inconsistent this season. Witten has just one reception in four of the Cowboys’ last six games. But in each of the other two contests during that span, the 35-year-old recorded seven receptions. A few of those one-reception games can be blamed on Dallas’ overall struggles on offense since losing Ezekiel Elliott, but still, starting Witten does not come without risks. But his Week 15 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is an appealing one, as Oakland has allowed a tight end to catch at least six passes for 70 yards and a touchdown in three of their last five games. Starting Witten would definitely be a gamble, but it’s one that could end up paving your way to your league’s fantasy championship game.
TE: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Cook is coming off one of his best outings of the season, catching 5-of-6 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown in Oakland’s 15-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It certainly was a promising sign for the veteran tight end, but after two consecutive one-reception outings, it may seem tough to trust Cook. But the 30-year-old’s matchup in Week 15 makes him a solid play at a position that hasn’t provided many consistent options this season. Dallas is averaging five receptions for 53 yards allowed per game to opposing tight ends, and are allowing tight ends to catch 68.6 percent of their targets this year. The Raiders are still in the playoff hunt, but need a win over the Cowboys on Sunday night to keep them afloat. Look for them to exploit Dallas’ weaknesses, which could mean a big night for Cook.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
This is Mariota’s third season in the NFL, and prior to Week 1, many people believed the quarterback out of Oregon would take a big step in his development this year and possibly join the elite group of quarterbacks. Well we are 14 weeks into the season, and that is certainly not the case. Mariota enters Week 15 having thrown for 2,582 yards and just 10 touchdowns to go along with 14 interceptions. His Passer Rating of 76.9 is the lowest of his short career, and his recent injuries are likely to cause that number to drop even more before the end of the season. Mariota has not thrown for 185 yards in any of Tennessee’s last three games, and has a 3:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last four contests. Mariota still has a bright career ahead of him, but he is not going to lead you to your fantasy league’s championship game this year.
QB: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Mariota ranks No. 1 on the list of this season’s disappointing, young quarterbacks, than Winston is a close No. 2. Appearing in just 10 games thus far, Winston has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,475 yards, 14 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, while fumbling the ball away four times. The Buccaneers have a nonexistent run game, which forces the offense to lean heavily on Winston’s arm. The third-year quarterback has shown flashes of his potential this season, but has been unable to perform well on a weekly basis. This has made him incredibly frustrating for fantasy purposes. Tampa Bay will welcome the Falcons to town on Monday night, and with Desmond Trufant leading the secondary, Atlanta’s defense has looked much improved lately. I would not want my fantasy season coming down to the arm of Winston this week.
QB: Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins
Don’t get me wrong, Cutler looked downright impressive against the Patriots on Monday Night Football. The former Vanderbilt quarterback threw for 263 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions against the defending Super Bowl champions. The veteran dismantled New England’s defense, but don’t think that necessarily means his performance will carry over to Week 15. Miami will face off against the Bills at New Era Field on Sunday. Since Week 10, the Bills have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. In fact, they have only allowed one quarterback to reach 20 fantasy points all season (Winston in Week 7). And as we saw last week, there is always a chance for extreme conditions when playing in Buffalo in December. Stay away from Cutler this week.
RB: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
One could easily argue that no player has been affected more by the torn ACL to Deshaun Watson than Lamar Miller. Over his last four games, Miller has not averaged more than 3.7 yards per carry, all while receiving 15-22 carries in each of those games. With Tom Savage under center, teams have been stacking the box against Houston, and it’s hard to think that will change this week against the Jaguars. Jacksonville comes into this Week 15 matchup with the league’s top-ranked pass defense, and with guys like Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Barry Church in the secondary, the Jaguars can afford to put an extra guy or two in the box. Jacksonville is going to force the Texans to throw the ball and win the game on the Savage’s arm. Even if he receives 20+ carries, Miller could be in for a very long day.
RB: Demarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
With the way Mariota and Murray have been playing this season, it’s very surprising that the Titans are 8-5 and currently hold the first Wild Card spot. The veteran running back has run for just 552 yards this year, and his 6.0 yards per carry in Week 13 was the first time he averaged over 3.3 yards per carry since Week 5. Adding to Murray’s gloomy outlook is the fact that he and Derrick Henry eat into each other’s snaps and touches. While Murray played on 47 of the Titans’ 60 offensive snaps in their loss to Arizona this past weekend, it’s his younger teammate that has scored a touchdown in two consecutive games. The 49ers have given up just 3.7 yards per carry to running backs since Week 8, and have done a solid job at limiting opposing running backs altogether during this stretch. Murray is a very risky play this week.
RB: Giovanni Bernard/Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
As of right now, it’s unclear whether or not Mixon will make it back onto the field in time for Cincinnati’s Week 15 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. But whether it’s the rookie or Bernard leading the way for the Bengals on Sunday, you should avoid this situation at all costs. Minnesota is allowing the fewest running back fantasy points per game this season. Yes, Jonathan Stewart scored three touchdowns against them last week, but prior to that surprise performance, Todd Gurley and Isaiah Crowell were the only two running backs to reach double digit fantasy points against the Vikings in the last seven games. Bernard has looked great filling in for Mixon over the last game and a half, but he is unlikely to carry that momentum into this daunting matchup. I’m avoiding all Bengals besides A.J. Green in this one.
WR: Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Anderson has surprised everyone this season, catching 52 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns in the first 13 games of the season. But all of that production came from the arm of Josh McCown, who broke his hand last week and will be forced to watch the rest of the season from the sidelines. Next up for the Jets is Bryce Petty, who has looked awful every time he has stepped onto the field in his short NFL career. To make matters worse, the Jets face the Saints in New Orleans in Week 15. New Orleans has given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in the last two months. Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley lead the Saints’ new-look defense, and will likely torture Petty throughout Sunday’s contest. Anderson has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season, but will be difficult to trust in the fantasy semifinals.
WR: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans’ fourth season in the NFL can be described as nothing short of a bust. The 6-foot-5 receiver has caught just 55 passes for 760 yards and four touchdowns, and has been unable to hit the 100-yard mark even once all year. Evans hasn’t found the end zone since Week 7, which was also the last time he had more than six receptions in a game. Tampa Bay’s last two games have been some of the worst for the big receiver, as he combined for four receptions for 58 yards on 11 targets. The problem with those numbers is that they came with Jameis Winston back under center. Evans will need to be targeted more than 5.5 times to make a difference, and that might be difficult this week. The Bucs face the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, meaning Evans will see plenty of coverage from Desmond Trufant. While he did catch 6 passes for 78 yards against Atlanta a few weeks ago, his production has been too inconsistent to rely on. You likely aren’t benching Evans, but expectations should be lowered for this matchup.
WR: Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
Doctson was supposed to take over the Redskins offense after Terrelle Pryor and Chris Thompson were both placed on injured reserve. While he has been able to reach the end zone a couple of times in the three games since, he has not topped 35 receiving yards while totaling just eight receptions during that span. With the Redskins taking on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15, there’s a good chance Doctston sees shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson. Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and has shut down some of the league’s best wide receivers. Doctson does not fall under that category, and will be in for a very rough day if Peterson does indeed shadow him.
TE: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen’s return to the field excited many fantasy owners, myself included. But in the two games the talented tight end has appeared in since returning from a foot injury, he has only been able to catch 1-of-4 targets for a measly 10 yards. It might be tough to bench Olsen because of his name alone, but a win this week takes you into your league’s championship. With his fantasy floor being as low as it is, the 32-year-old is very hard to trust this week. Add in the fact that the Green Bay Packers are allowing the second-fewest fantasy PPR points per game to opposing tight ends, and this seems like a week to leave Olsen on your bench. The one good sign is that Carolina used Olsen on 92 percent of their offensive snaps last week. If he can put up a solid performance on Sunday, then he would be a strong play next week at home against the Buccaneers.
TE: Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
Davis had a stellar stretch from Weeks 3 through 7 where he either caught a touchdown or 65+ receiving yards in four consecutive games filling in for the injured Jordan Reed. However he has not had much luck since then. Davis caught two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown last week, making it only his second touchdown of the season and his first since Week 3. In his last three contests, the veteran tight end has been targeted just nine times, catching four of them for a mere 41 yards (including receiving zero targets against the Giants on Thanksgiving night). Davis has simply been too inconsistent lately. With the possibility of him finishing with one or zero catches, it would be a big risk starting him in such an important week.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.