Fantasy Football NFL Week 15 - Playoff Sleepers

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Collacchi takes a look at this week's fantasy rankings.

Week 15 is the beginning of fantasy playoffs for most, and the second round for some. This is the most important week in fantasy football, as was last week for those in the playoffs. Should you be lucky enough to be in position to win your league, remember the reason why you have gotten this far.  Start your best players, do not be too risky, and good luck. The great Matthew Berry has always said, "Start your players". Meaning do not bench Alshon Jeffery or Josh Gordon or anyone who has gotten you this far. Good luck.

Rather than do rankings for the playoffs, I will pick two players at each skill position that may not be on some fantasy player's minds. As mentioned before, you do not need to know Calvin Johnson needs to start this week. Most teams in the playoffs are set at all but one position, as that is how the best teams seem to be. For me, I am set at running back, wide receiver and tight end, but I need to figure out a quarterback each week based on matchups.

Here are this week's sleeper picks for the fantasy playoffs:

Quarterback

Jay Cutler vs. the Cleveland Browns

Cutler was named the starter for the Chicago Bears early Thursday afternoon, and becomes an instant starter for those who do not have a top tier quarterback. The Bears offense has been clicking on all cylinders of late with Josh McCown, and with Cutler back, the offense could go to new heights. The Cleveland Browns defense is an underrated bunch, but with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, whoever plays quarterback for the Bears is a viable start. I am starting Cutler over Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Chances are Cutler is on the waiver wire, so add him before someone else does.

Kirk Cousins vs. the Atlanta Falcons

By no means is Kirk Cousins an elite fantasy option each and every week, but with the Atlanta Falcons as his opponent, it is tough to not start him. The Falcons have given up 25 touchdowns through the air this season, and allow a league-worst 104.3 QB rating to opposing quarterbacks. I am starting him in one league over Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill and Ben Roethlisberger.

Running Back

Steven Jackson vs. the Washington Redskins

I hate to put SJAX on this list, but in the FLEX, he could make a difference for a team needing an extra ten points. In Jackson's last three games, he has seen 19, 24 and 16 touches. In the FLEX, that is more than one could ask for, and given that the Falcons face the Redskins, Jackson is a good play for this week.

Pierre Thomas vs. the St. Louis Rams

Before the last three weeks, Pierre Thomas was almost a must-start in PPR formats, and since he has 60 receptions this season, I would start him in the FLEX in PPR or as a RB2 depending on your roster. Some people have forgotten about him in the last few weeks as his production has been down in two of the last three. But, think about who he has faced. Last week was the Seahawks, and three weeks ago was the 49ers. In the game between them, Thomas had 13 fantasy points against the Falcons in standard leagues and 18 in PPR. If you have Thomas, he is a good FLEX option or as a RB2 depending on your roster. Don't sleep on Pierre Thomas.

Wide Receiver

Riley Cooper vs. the Minnesota Vikings

A statistic I read the other day read, "Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson have the same amount of targets since Week 7." That is an incredible number, and for a WR3 or FLEX option, you could do a lot worst than Riley Cooper. The Vikings secondary has allowed the third most passing yards in the NFL and is last in the NFL in completions against with 340. With the Eagles offense in a dome, expect Riley Cooper to have a good day, and in deeper leagues, he is worth a start in the FLEX or in a WR3 position.

Rod Streater vs. the Kansas City Chiefs

With Denarius Moore likely back this week, Streater will be "relegated" to the WR2 slot in Oakland. Marcus Cooper covers the second wide out for the Chiefs defense, and has been exploited as of late. Pro Football Focus has graded Marcus Cooper as a -13 in the last four weeks, which is among the worst in the NFL in the same time period. As with Riley Cooper, if you need another option at WR, go with the former Temple Owl in Rod Streater.

Tight End

Delanie Walker vs. the Arizona Cardinals

Remember the Eagles game against the Cardinals? Zach Ertz was open all day long agains the Arizona defense. The Cardinals have allowed quick tight ends to have huge fantasy games against them with Jared Cook also having a great game in Week 1. Delanie Walker will be targeted at a high rate this week because of this, and he is a matchup problem waiting to happen.

Andrew Quarless vs. the Dallas Cowboys

Since Jermichael Finley went down to injury, Quarless has been the Packers top tight end. Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Quarless accounted for six catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys present a similar defense this week agains the Packers, and Quarless could be a good start in leagues where the tight end waiver wire is thin. Most of us only carry one tight end, and with Gronkowski getting hurt last week, suddenly tight end is a need. If Delanie Walker is not available, pick up Quarless against a porous Cowboys defense.

Good luck.

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