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Roast & Ghost: Starts & sits for Week 15 fantasy football

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One player to start and sit at each position for Week 15 fantasy football.

Buffalo Bills v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Instead of your classic fantasy football start and sit column, I’ve decided to spice it up. Instead of start, I’ve dubbed it “roast” which is a player who is not only a clear start, but is in for just a monster game. Instead of sit (which I’ve always had difficulty with because sitting a player comes down to how your roster is), I’m calling it “ghost”, as in a player who might be a straight up bench, but also might just be a star player who gives you less than you were expecting. For instance, last week I had Diontae Johnson as a ghost. You’re welcome.

So, without further ado, a roast and ghost for each position for Week 15 fantasy football.

Quarterback

Roast: Derek Carr vs Los Angeles Chargers

I had written a whole blurb about Philip Rivers and how I think he’s going to torch the Texans secondary, but then I got scared off by his turf toe and Jonathan Taylor’s new found rushing prowess. (Of course now that I’ve said this and changed my mind, he’s totally going to throw 300+ yards and three touchdowns just to spite me while Carr struggles. It just makes too much sense.)

The Chargers defense has been playing well recently, allowing the 16th fewest points to opposing quarterbacks over the last four weeks, but on the year, they’re below average, giving up the 11th most to QBs. But I’m hitching my wagon to Carr less because of the matchup and more because the man has been lights out in recent weeks.

After his terrible performance against the Falcons back in Week 12, Carr has gone on to toss for over 300 yards and at least two touchdowns in each of his following two games. With the Raiders basically missing their entire defense Thursday night, I’m fully expecting this game to become a shootout and a race to who can score 40 first. That means a lot of opportunity to toss the pigskin all over the yard.

Ghost: Baker Mayfield vs New York Giants

I’m not sure how many fantasy teams are relying on Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback at this point in the year, but after back-to-back games of 330+ yards and at least three total touchdowns, I can get why you might be looking to add him or even start him in your fantasy playoffs. Well I’m here to tell you that’s a terrible idea.

While the Giants as a team are the manifestation of blah, their defense has been anything but, allowing the fifth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the year (20.5) and they’ve only allowed 17 passing touchdowns, third best in the league. The Giants run defense has been much more vulnerable so I wouldn’t be surprised for the Browns to give them a heavy dose of Nick Chubb and take the ball out of Mayfield’s hands as they try and get an easy bounce back win.

Running Back

Roast: Jonathan Taylor vs Houston Texans

Speaking of Jonathan Taylor’s new found rushing prowess, it is here and I am HERE. FOR. IT. I don’t know if somehow being on the COVID-19/IR list gave him a new zest for life or if instead of hitting the rookie wall, the rookie wall actually hit him forward, but Taylor has been a man possessed since missing Week 12. In his last two games, Taylor has averaged 7.0 and 7.5 yards per carry and has put together two games going over 130 total yards.

His emergence couldn’t have come at a better time for fantasy managers. (Personally, it came at a terrible time as he helped propel my wife’s fantasy team over mine in the first round of the playoffs.)

Since Week 8, only the Lions have allowed more PPR points to opposing backs than the Texans (32.5 vs 31.6). They just gave up 113 yards and a touchdown to David Montgomery last week and the week before they gave up 135 total yards and a touchdown to... Jonathan Taylor. JTT managers are in for another smash spot this week.

Ghost: Chris Carson vs Washington Football Team

Finally healthy and on the field, Carson has picked up right where he left off for the Seahawks. He’s scored a touchdown in each of his last three games and is averaging almost 90 total yards per game during that time. However, he faces a real tough matchup in Washington’s defensive line this week.

On the year, Washington is allowing the third fewest PPR points to opposing running backs, only surrendering 19.4 points per game to the position. Over their last three games, Washington has faced the 49ers, Steelers, and Cowboys and held their respective backfields to under 100 yards rushing. Don’t be surprised if Carson gives you a lackluster performance Sunday.

Wide Receiver

Roast: Brandon Aiyuk vs Dallas Cowboys

Oh baby, I haven’t done my wide receiver rankings yet but let me assure you, I’m going to have a hard time not ranking Aiyuk as a WR1 this week. Aiyuk is once again the lone man standing in the 49ers passing game and has turned that into back-to-back monster performances, including a 16 target game last week which he caught 10 balls for 119 yards.

Now Nick Mullen’s only target gets to play against the Cowboys secondary that on the year has given up the seventh most PPR points to opposing receivers. And unlike some defense (*cough* Seahawks *cough*) the Cowboys haven’t gotten better as the year’s gone on. In fact, since Week 8, they’re tied with the Chargers, Panthers, and Jets with most receiving touchdowns surrendered to WRs (10). Aiyuk is a must-start obviously and a must-play in DFS this week.

Ghost: Robby Anderson vs Green Bay Packers

Anderson has overcome a slight lull in his fantasy production in the middle of the year, and has now recorded back-to-back games with at least 84 yards receiving. Despite that, I would be terrified to start him this week vs the Packers because playing the Packers means playing against Jaire Alexander. Alexander is allowing a 60.3 quarterback rating (QBR) against him, a 41.1 completion percentage, and has given up only 262 yards and two touchdowns on the year. The dude is balling out this year.

Normally Anderson can escape to the slot to help avoid top corners and get solid production—he’s lined up int he slot 57% of the time this season—but the Packers also have a stud slot corner in Chandon Sullivan. Sullivan is allowing a 66.3 QBR and has given up only one touchdown in coverage this year. Even with the Panthers likely needing to pass the ball to stay in this game, I still would avoid Anderson if I could this week.

Tight End

Roast: Robert Tonyan vs Carolina Panthers

Yea, you weren’t going to not start Tonyan this week—he is the TE4 after all—but I just want to emphasis how much you shouldn’t be not starting him. (Man that was terrible sentence construction. So many double negatives.)

It’s crazy, but Tonyan has basically seen the exact same stat line over the last four games. Go check it out. It’s weird. He’s basically a lock to see five targets, five catches 40 yards and a touchdown. He wouldn’t break this trend Sunday as since Week 8, only the awful sucky Jets have allowed more PPR points to tight ends than the Panthers. Tonyan is going to get his which means you as a fantasy manager will get yours.

Ghost: Travis Kelce vs New Orleans Saints

I could’ve picked Mike Gesicki here, dealing with an injury, facing a Patriots defense that not only is tough against tight ends but also famously tough against rookie quarterbacks, but I wanted to go big here. AND I WENT BIG!

I know Kelce is a whole different beast than your average tight end—and really is just a WR1 and should be drafted as that in 2021 fantasy drafts shoutout my colleague Clark Barnes—but as the Saints defense has been having their renaissance, they have been just erasing opposing tight ends. The Saints have been the no. 1 defense against tight ends in the second half of the season (since Week 8) and it’s not particularly close. They’ve allowed a staggering 5.1 PPR points to TEs during that time. FIVE POINT ONE. They’ve allowed 18 catches, 174 yards and not a single damn touchdown. IN SEVEN GAMES.

You are NEVER going to bench Travis Kelce, but man, this is an immovable object meeting an immovable force which neither can move despite how much movement they might need to try and move the other’s movement. You get what I’m saying?