Week 15 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 15 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet last-minute thoughts at @notJDaigle.
Texans @ Jets
*Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Keke Coutee (hamstring) was ruled out. DeAndre Hopkins proved long ago he’s matchup-proof, but his 37% target share in three games without Will Fuller (torn ACL, IR) and Coutee since Week 9 also ensures he sees immense volume against the Jets.
*With Isaiah Crowell now done for the year, New York will move forward with second-year pro Elijah McGuire, sixth-round rookie Trenton Cannon, and practice squad call-up and ex-Broncos RB De’Angelo Henderson as their backfield options. McGuire recorded season-highs in snaps (40), carries (17), and totes inside the 5 (4) against the Bills last Sunday and is strictly an RB2/flex on Saturday given his inevitable usage-based workload. Houston’s nightmarish defense has allowed merely the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing runners.
Browns @ Broncos
*PFF’s No. 18 corner (among 199 qualifiers) Denzel Ward will miss his second consecutive game. That means Courtland Sutton will be left with Terrance Mitchell defending him instead. Sutton face-planted on 51 snaps Sunday, but did miss time with a quad injury. He remains a low-floor/high-ceiling WR3/flex play on the outside, whereas slot wideout and fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton garners high-floor WR3 consideration after running a team-high 46 routes on 72-of-74 snaps in his first game in place of Emmanuel Sanders.
Cardinals @ Falcons
*WR Chad Williams returned to practice, but coach Steve Wilks is still reportedly deciding if it’s “advantageous” to play him over others since he’s been out of action recently. If Williams is in fact scratched, UDFA Trent Sherfield suddenly becomes a legitimate DFS tourney and cheap cash game option after quietly playing 65-of-70 offensive snaps (93%) in Week 14.
*Julio returned to practice on Friday after being sent home on Thursday with an illness. He’s ready to roll. Ito Smith (knee) got slapped with the questionable tag out of nowhere on Friday, but coach Dan Quinn said he still expects him to suit up. Tevin Coleman would only garner flex appeal if Smith is ruled out.
Buccaneers @ Ravens
*DeSean Jackson (thumb) is out again, which keeps Chris Godwin firmly in play as an every-down WR3. Godwin’s matchup against Baltimore on Sunday is a horrific one, but his ceiling and usage remain worth chasing after a frustrating one-catch afternoon. He still notably saw a team-high 10 targets and was consistently feature downfield (173 air yards) in Week 14.
*Joe Flacco (hip) is questionable for Sunday, but it doesn’t matter. This is Lamar Jackson’s offense for the foreseeable future. He’s a high-floor QB1 play against a Bucs defense that’s permitted a league-high 39.8 points per game on the road.
Lions @ Bills
*Not only will the Lions still be without Kerryon Johnson (knee), TE Michael Roberts (shoulder, IR), and Marvin Jones (knee, IR) against the Bills, they’ll also be short slot wideout Bruce Ellington (hamstring); not to mention Matthew Stafford (back, questionable), who remains dinged up after constantly playing through a back injury. Rather than have any investment in the Lions, it’s a terrific opportunity to stream Buffalo’s defense across the board in all formats.
*LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Chris Ivory (shoulder) are both questionable, though the latter did get in a full practice on Friday. Ivory would only have usage-based interest if McCoy is ruled out. If McCoy plays, he should receive a similar workload to the average 21.3 touches he saw in three games prior to exiting on Sunday.
Packers @ Bears
*Starting RT Bryan Bulaga (knee, doubtful) likely won’t play, which pits incumbent fill-in Jason Spriggs against All-World pass-rusher Khalil Mack. Randall Cobb was additionally removed from the injury report on Friday and could stay glued to the middle of the field against a third-string corner if S Eddie Jackson (shin, questionable) is out. The Bears already lost slot DB Bryce Callahan (foot, IR) for the season earlier this week.
*Allen Robinson (hip, questionable) was upgraded in practice throughout the week, capping it off with full participation on Friday. He’ll play.
Raiders @ Bengals
*If starting LG Kelechi Osemele (toe, out) and RG Gabe Jackson (elbow, game-time decision) are both unable to play, the Raiders will start backup linemen Chaz Green and Denzelle Good in their respective places. Sunday is shaping up to be a true letdown spot for Oakland following the team’s heroic out-of-nowhere last-second victory over the Steelers in Week 14.
*LT Cordy Glenn (back, questionable) could be back after missing the past two weeks. His presence alone would upgrade Jeff Driskel in this particular spot against an Oakland defense that’s allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing play-callers.
Cowboys @ Colts
*All-Pro RG Zack Martin (knee) was ruled out, which immediately downgrades Dallas’ protection across the board. The Cowboys will start struggling rookie Connor Williams in his stead alongside LT Tyron Smith (back, questionable), LG XAvier Su’a-Filo, C Joe Looney, and RT La’el Collins. Not ideal.
*Indianapolis beat writers have speculated back and forth on T.Y. Hilton (ankle, questionable), who didn’t practice at all throughout the week but still somehow got the questionable tag on the team’s final injury report. And even if he’s active, the question then becomes how effective he’ll be. If he’s a go, you’d be hard-pressed not to start him (barring superb backups on your roster) in this potential eruption spot for the Colts’ offense. If he’s out, Indy would lean on three-wide sets of Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers, and Zach Pascal, the latter who averaged a whopping 3.24 Yards Per Route Run (PFF's predictive metric) just last week.
Redskins @ Jaguars
*Josh Doctson (concussion, questionable) turned in full participation on Friday and remains the team’s only deep threat. Even so, he’ll likely see Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage if active. Vernon Davis remains the only applicable play with Jordan Reed (toe, out) shelved, most recently having averaged 5.2 targets on 28.9 routes in 10 games without Washington’s oft-injured starter last year.
*Starting RT Jermey Parnell (knee, out) will be replaced by backup OT Josh Wells, leaving Ereck Flowers on Cody Kessler’s blindside.
Dolphins @ Vikings
*Xavien Howard (knee, doubtful) likely won’t be available to stick with either Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs. Having said that, we should expect the Vikings to still look to run the ball following ex-OC John DeFilippo’s mid-week release. Dalvin Cook is a tremendous RB2 and DFS pivot off of Minnesota’s pass-catcher corps considering the Vikes have averaged 105 rushing yards per game at home compared to just 67 on the road.
Titans @ Giants
*Marcus Mariota (abdomen) was surprisingly added to the injury report on Friday, but he’s fully expected to suit up. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis will be the only two active running backs with third-stringer David Fluellen (knee) out.
*Odell Beckham’s (quad) absence again puts Saquon Barkley firmly in play as Week 15’s top RB option. The Giants leaned on a 47% run play rate through the first three quarters (before the rookie was removed) against the Redskins, for example, an extremely different approach from their bottom-five run play rate (34%) on the year prior to Sunday. You were starting Barkley in season-long anyways, but he clearly moves up a spot or two among DFS cash game priorities sans ODB. Note that Evan Engram was also utilized on more passing downs last week, running 18 routes to Rhett Ellison’s 10 (despite seeing his usual median 51.6% snap rate).
Seahawks @ 49ers
*Coach Pete Carroll said he expects Doug Baldwin (hip, questionable) to play. It’s a plus that he’ll continue to run a majority of his routes from the slot away from Richard Sherman on the left side of the field. With Rashaad Penny (knee) out, Chris Carson should soak up all early-down work as a clear-cut high-end RB2 in this spot. Mike Davis will remain the team’s primary route runner out of the backfield.
*The Niners have leaned on Dante Pettis (foot, questionable) as their top receiver in recent weeks, but he may not suit up for this one. Marquise Goodwin (calf) and Matt Breida (ankle) are also questionable after getting in limited work on Friday. All should play, which keeps Pettis as a high-floor WR3 option, but removes fill-in backup runner Jeff Wilson from any fantasy consideration behind Breida.
Patriots @ Steelers
*James Conner (ankle, questionable) was limited on Friday, which at least leaves open the possibility he plays. Despite being listed as questionable, note the Steelers have only ruled 10-of-29 ‘questionable’ players active — 34.4%, the lowest rate in the league — since 2017. Conner is only the second Steeler this season to get in limited work following mid-week absences on Thursday and Friday, setting up Jaylen Samuels (and to a lesser extent, Stevan Ridley) to continue starting in his place. DFSers would be wise to build lineups as if Conner’s still out. Samuels’ on-field usage was off the charts in Week 14 as he handled 11-of-16 backfield carries (68.7%) and ran 33 routes (and saw seven targets) on 48-of-60 offensive snaps (80%).
Eagles @ Rams
*Carson Wentz’s injury (back, out) is getting headlines, but it’s a much bigger deal short-term that Philadelphia’s secondary will again be in disarray without CB Sidney Jones (hamstring, out) and potentially slot DB/S Avonte Maddox (ankle/knee, questionable) on Sunday. Consider this matchup a true blowup spot for Jared Goff in particular, as he’s averaged 366.5 yards (9.8 YPA), 30.8 fantasy points, and an 18:2 TD:INT ratio in six games at home this year.
Saints @ Panthers
*Cam Newton (shoulder) was removed from Saturday's injury report.