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We’re reached peak lineup-decision-making time of the fantasy season, as every single point counts in the playoffs. Setting lineups based on name alone without taking other factors into account can be detrimental to rosters everywhere.
Here’s a look at some players to either consider benching this week or at least lower expectations for when considering all options for the first playoff round.
Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
There’s an old adage, dance with who brought you, or something like that. In this case, doing the tango with Justin Herbert may not be the best decision for fantasy success in Week 15. The Chiefs have come alive on defense over the past five weeks, allowing just 9.6 points per tilt to enemy offenses in that time frame.
QB output against Kansas City has been limited as well, with the average fantasy points of all signal callers facing the Chiefs since Week 9 a meager 11.04. While you probably won’t sit Herbert this week and it’s understandable to want to go with the QB who got you here, at least lower expectations for his production based on his short turnaround and tough matchup.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Lenny has made this column several times this season, but he’s here again in Week 15 based on the Saints’ prowess for stopping the run. New Orleans is surrendering the fewest fantasy points to enemy backfields this season (16.3 half-PPR), with just five total rushing touchdowns scored on them by RBs in 13 contests.
Fournette has gained traction as a pass-catcher, with 38 targets since the Buccaneers Week 10 bye, however, the Saints are allowing the fifth-fewest receptions per game (4.2) to opposing RBs, and have only allowed three scores via the air by an RB this season. Sitting Fournette is most likely not an option for most if not all of you, but anticipate a diminished outcome for the 26-year-old this week, in the low RB1-to-RB2 range.
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Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
The 25-year-old may have tipped the scales for your playoff berth or you just grabbed him off the waiver wire, but I wouldn’t immediately insert Penny into your lineups for Week 15. The fourth-year RB did just torch the Texans for 137 yards and two scores on 16 carries, but he has a more difficult matchup on Sunday afternoon.
The Rams are stingy against the run, allowing the eighth-fewest rushing yards on the season, plus Seattle could be forced into a more pass-heavy game script in this NFC West contest. If Penny gets more involved as a receiver he could post RB2 numbers, but it’s more likely we get RB3 output from the Seahawk.
Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
It’s been a pretty solid sophomore season for Pittman, as he’s enjoying WR23 numbers in half-PPR points per game so far in 2021. While you’ve been able to plug him in as a fairly consistent WR2, sometimes WR1, this week could be a step back for the 24-year-old.
As a defense, the Patriots are second in the NFL in interceptions with 19 and are yielding the fewest receptions and the fourth-fewest receiving yards to wideouts this season. With the New England defense playing hot and J.C. Jackson most likely focused on taking Pittman away from Carson Wentz, it may be wise to roll with someone else for your WR2 or even WR3 slot.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers
There’s been a slide in efficiency for Brown over the past few weeks and he’s become more of a PPR-floor guy as opposed to a WR with a large ceiling. QB aside, it could be a tough outing for the 24-year old this week as the Packers may have Jaire Alexander back to shut down any big-play potential.
Brown hasn’t crossed the pylon since Week 7 and has posted 55 or fewer yards in his last four tilts. This may not be the week to break his late-season skid, so perhaps finding another WR is the way to go. Or at least expect WR3 numbers from the Raven in Week 15.