Fantasy Rankings & Tiers To Make Your Early Week 15 Start/Sit Decisions For Playoffs

Fantasy Rankings & Tiers To Make Your Early Week 15 Start/Sit Decisions For Playoffs article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: Davante Adams, Derrick Henry

Go to Sean Koerner’s updated Week 15 tiers.


Still alive in your fantasy football playoffs?

To help you start strategizing Week 15 start/sit decisions, I’ve outlined the early version of my fantasy football rankings into tiers so you can better visualize the drop-off in expected production at each position.

As always, there will be a ton of volatility in how I adjust my rankings up until kickoff, so be sure to check my updated rankings before making final decisions. I’ll also publish an updated version of these tiers before Sunday’s kickoff, but for now, let’s dive into the initial version of my Week 15 tiers!

Fantasy Rankings & Tiers

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QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DEF

Quarterback Tiers

Tier 1

Patrick Mahomes (@ NO)
Josh Allen (@ DEN)

Despite the tough matchup, Mahomes claims the top spot in my quarterback rankings (see my real-time rankings). He might not have a ceiling game against the Saints, but he’s a safe bet for 300 yards and 2-3 touchdowns. He has a mouth-watering matchup against the Falcons next week in what will be championship week in most leagues. I wouldn’t want to face him then.

Allen joins Mahomes in Tier 1 thanks to a plus matchup. Allen should take advantage of a Broncos defense without its starting corners A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan. The Allen to Stefon Diggs connection is off-the-charts right now and makes Allen an elite QB1, regardless of matchup.

Tier 2

Kyler Murray (vs. PHI)
Lamar Jackson (vs. JAX)
Aaron Rodgers (vs. CAR)
Russell Wilson (@ WAS)

Jackson has been one of the bigger disappointments of the fantasy season. However, he appears to be heating up just in time for the fantasy playoffs. With the Ravens fighting for a playoff spot, he’s not holding back as a runner, and it has been paying dividends for his managers.

Expect Jackson to have his way with Jacksonville.

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Tier 3

Jalen Hurts (@ ARI)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. DET)
Justin Herbert (@ LV)
Deshaun Watson (@ IND)

I urged readers to add Hurts last week if they were hurting at quarterback, but to not actually play him in Week 14. The idea was that if he played well, he would have enough job security for us to trust him in Week 15 at the Cardinals and in Week 16 at the Cowboys. Not only did Hurts play well against one of the best defenses in the league in the Saints, but he led the Eagles to a 24-21 upset win.

It’s unlikely that the Eagles switch back to Carson Wentz now, which means we can trust Hurts as a reliable QB1 option in the fantasy playoffs. He may be limited as a passer, but his rushing upside — 18 carries for 106 yards in his first start — gives him a floor/ceiling combo that feels like Christmas came early.

Tier 4

Tom Brady (@ ATL)
Taysom Hill (vs. KC)
Jared Goff (vs. NYJ)
Derek Carr (vs. LAC)

Hill is likely to get one more start as Drew Brees nears a return from his rib injury. It’s a potential ceiling spot against the Chiefs in what could end up being a shootout. If you’ve been relying on Hill as your QB, you must stash a potential Week 16 replacement if Brees returns. Next week will be rough for streamers, but Mitch Trubisky at Jacksonville projects to be the best bet for now.

If Hurts is somehow still available in your league(s), add him ASAP.

Tier 5

Philip Rivers (vs. HOU)
Ben Roethlisberger (@ CIN)
Mitch Trubisky (@ MIN)

Rivers is difficult to project this week because he has a great matchup on paper, but the Colts might not need to throw much to put away the Texans. Deshaun Watson lost his top-four receivers in Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills over the past three weeks. As a result, the Texans haven’t put up enough of a fight for opposing offenses to keep their foot on the gas.

If Cooks returns, it would slightly boost the ceilings of Rivers and receivers T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr.

Tier 6

Matt Ryan (vs. TB)
Kirk Cousins (vs. CHI)
Teddy Bridgewater (@ GB)
Cam Newton (@ MIA)

We can’t trust Ryan unless both Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones are both healthy. Even if Jones can suit up this week, it’s unclear whether he’ll be anything near 100% or at risk of in-game aggravation.

panthers-vs-falcons-odds-pick-spread-betting-week-5-2020
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Ryan

Tier 7

Andy Dalton (vs. SF)
Drew Lock (vs. BUF)
Nick Mullens (@ DAL)
Tua Tagovailoa (vs. NE)
Baker Mayfield (@ NYG)

Last week, Tagovailoa posted the QB4 score against the Chiefs in what was his best fantasy game of the season. I expect him to regress to a low-end QB2 against the Patriots. He’s likely to be without tight end Mike Gesicki and could also be without wide receiver DeVante Parker. If both pass-catchers can return Week 16 against the Raiders, Tagovailoa will re-enter the streaming discussion.

Tier 8

Chase Daniel (@ TEN)
Gardner Minshew (@ BAL)

Matthew Stafford is shaping up to be a true game-time decision. We may not know who is starting until Sunday morning, so for now, I’m projecting it’ll be Daniel. All Lions pass catchers get a slight downgrade as a result.

Tier 9

Daniel Jones (vs. CLE)
Alex Smith (vs. SEA)

Tier 10

Brandon Allen (vs. PIT)
Sam Darnold (@ LAR)

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Running Back Tiers

Tier 1

Derrick Henry (vs. DET)
Dalvin Cook (vs. CHI)

Coming off a 26-carry, 215-yard and two-touchdown performance against the Jaguars, Henry gets another juicy matchup against the Lions. Neither feline can stop Henry — he is the King of the Jungle, especially in the fantasy playoffs. Winter is Coming.

Tier 2

Aaron Jones (vs. CAR)
Austin Ekeler (@ LV)

Tier 3

Jonathan Taylor (vs. HOU)
Alvin Kamara (vs. KC)
Josh Jacobs (vs. LAC)
James Robinson (@ BAL)
Mike Davis (@ GB)
Nick Chubb (@ NYG)
David Montgomery (@ MIN)
Cam Akers (vs. NYJ)

Taylor seemed to hit a rookie wall in Weeks 8-10 and became difficult to trust as an RB3/Flex option. The game has slowed down for him, and he’s returned to his high-end RB1 potential. Now he has a dream matchup against the Texans.

In the Week 13 edition of my tiers, I warned about the potential of a Cam Akers breakout:

“Akers looks like the best running back on the Rams right now. However, it’s difficult to project how Sean McVay will handle RB snaps any given week. Keep Akers stashed on your bench as he will become a slam-dunk RB2 option if either Henderson or Malcolm Brown were ever to miss time.”

Despite his breakout for 21 rushes, 72 yards and a touchdown in Week 13, I was hesitant to anoint Akers as a true RB2 option in Week 14 — and it backfired. McVay’s coach-speak can’t scare us away from Akers anymore. It would be malpractice for McVay not to give Akers 20-plus touches against the Jets, and we can trust him as a low-end RB1.

Tier 4

Ezekiel Elliott (vs. SF)
Kenyan Drake (vs. PHI)
Miles Sanders (@ ARI)
Chris Carson (@ WAS)
D’Andre Swift (@ TEN)
Leonard Fournette (@ ATL)

Ronald Jones has been placed on the Bucs’ reserve/COVID-19 list while also dealing with a finger injury. He’s likely out for Week 15, which means Tampa Bay’s backfield is up for grabs. Leonard Fournette makes the most logical sense as the back to target here. However, he was a healthy scratch last week, and with Bruce Arians, that could mean anything.

I’m treating Fournette as a mid-range RB2 until we get more clarity on this situation. LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn are worth speculative adds as well.

nfl-prop-bets-picks-saints-vs-buccaneers-sunday-night-football-2020
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Leonard Fournette

Tier 5

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (@ NO)
Melvin Gordon (vs. BUF)
Wayne Gallman (vs. CLE)
J.D. McKissic (vs. SEA)
J.K. Dobbins (vs. JAX)

I’m assuming that Antonio Gibson misses his second straight game, in which case J.D. McKissic would continue to dominate the passing work for Washington, but I was surprised at how heavily he was used as a runner in Week 14. He racked up 11 carries for 68 yards to Peyton Barber’s 12 carries. It was a very Barber-friendly game script, but this week’s matchup against Seattle sets up as a McKissic friendly one.

I’m treating McKissic as a low-end RB2.

Tier 6

Kareem Hunt (@ NYG)
Raheem Mostert (@ DAL)
Nyheim Hines (vs. HOU)
James Conner (@ CIN)
David Johnson (@ IND)
Chase Edmonds (vs. PHI)

Conner is dealing with a quad injury, so his Week 15 availability is up in the air. It’s a frustrating situation when we can’t trust Conner in what should be a smash spot against the Bengals. The Steelers have been unable to get their running game going of late but should bounce back in Cincinatti.

Benny Snell will become an RB2 if Conner ends up being ruled out.

Tier 7

Devin Singletary (@ DEN)
Peyton Barber (vs. SEA)
Damien Harris (@ MIA)
Zack Moss (@ DEN)
Jeffrey Wilson (@ DAL)
Todd Gurley (vs. TB)

Raheem Mostert missed practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable, which means Wilson will get a massive boost (into the Tier 5 range) if Mostert is ruled out.

The Bills play on Saturday afternoon, which means if you’re making a start/sit decision involving either Singletary or Moss vs. Wilson and we still lack clarity on Mostert’s status by that time, I would plan on starting Wilson. Even if Mostert ends up playing, Wilson should offer similar value as Singletary and Moss. However, Wilson has a built-in upside if Mostert were to miss Week 15.

nfl-prop-bets-picks-eagles-vs-49ers-sunday night football-week 4-2020-1
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Jeff Wilson

Tier 8

Tony Pollard (vs. SF)
Jamaal Williams (vs. CAR)
Ito Smith (vs. TB)
Giovani Bernard (vs. PIT)

We can’t trust Bernard in our lineups right now, which should be a blessing in disguise considering he’s facing the Steelers this week. It makes sense for the Bengals to give Trayveon Williams an extended look — they’re playing for 2021 and beyond. I stashed him in deeper leagues in the off chance the team announces him as the starter for Week 16 against the Texans.

Tier 9

Lynn Bowden (vs. NE)
Matt Breida (vs. NE)
Gus Edwards (vs. JAX)
Duke Johnson Jr. (@ IND)
Latavius Murray (vs. KC)
DeAndre Washington (vs. NE)
Carlos Hyde (@ WAS)
James White (@ MIA)
Devontae Booker (vs. LAC)
Phillip Lindsay (vs. BUF)
Salvon Ahmed (vs. NE)
LeSean McCoy (@ ATL)
Trayveon Williams (vs. PIT)
Ty Johnson (@ LAR)
Samaje Perine (vs. PIT)
Le’Veon Bell (@ NO)

The Dolphins’ running back situation is very murky, but Matt Breida needs to be stashed in all leagues right now. There’s a chance he gets the start after being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list and could end up a RB3/Flex option.

With so many Dolphins labeled as questionable, let’s revisit any sit/start decision involving Miami with my updated tiers on Saturday when we have more clarity.

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Wide Receiver Tiers

Tier 1

Davante Adams (vs. CAR)
Tyreek Hill (@ NO)

Tier 2

Stefon Diggs (@ DEN)

Tier 3

Keenan Allen (@ LV)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. PHI)
A.J. Brown (vs. DET)
D.K. Metcalf (@ WAS)
Allen Robinson (@ MIN)
Calvin Ridley (vs. TB)

nfl-odds-picks-falcons-vs-chargers-betting-spread-week-14-2020
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Calvin Ridley

Tier 4

Brandon Aiyuk (@ DAL)
Michael Thomas (vs. KC)
Tyler Lockett (@ WAS)
Adam Thielen (vs. CHI)
Robert Woods (vs. NYJ)
Robby Anderson (@ GB)
Justin Jefferson (vs. CHI)
Terry McLaurin (vs. SEA)
Cooper Kupp (vs. NYJ)

Aiyuk erupted for 10 catches and 119 yards against Washington in Week 14. He should continue to see a massive target share with Deebo Samuel out for the remainder of the season. I’m treating Aiyuk as a low-end WR1 against Dallas.

Woods and Kupp always offer a high floor, but it’s fair to question their ceiling considering the Rams are 17.5-point favorites against the Jets. I expect a very run-heavy game plan from L.A. this week.

Tier 5

Jarvis Landry (@ NYG)
Juju Smith-Schuster (@ CIN)
Cole Beasley (@ DEN)
Diontae Johnson (@ CIN)
Julio Jones (vs. TB)
Corey Davis (vs. DET)
T.Y. Hilton (vs. HOU)
Chris Godwin (@ ATL)
Amari Cooper (vs. SF)
Mike Evans (@ ATL)
Curtis Samuel (@ GB)
Brandin Cooks (@ IND)
Marvin Jones (@ TEN)

Diontae Johnson saw his playing time plummet (58% routes run) in Week 14 due to his ongoing issue with drops. It’s fair to wonder whether he’ll have a reduced role from now on. He’s too talented to keep off the field, and I’m treating him as a low-end WR2 who carries a bit of risk.

My projection for Jones is just a place holder for now. I’m assuming that the Falcons will only allow him to play unless he’s close to 100%. It’s been a frustrating year to have him, but if he’s active this week, we can trust him. Whether he plays, though, remains a mystery.

Tier 6

Nelson Agholor (vs. LAC)
Chase Claypool (@ CIN)
CeeDee Lamb (vs. SF)
Antonio Brown (@ ATL)
Tim Patrick (vs. BUF)
D.J. Moore (@ GB)
D.J. Chark (@ BAL)
Michael Pittman Jr. (vs. HOU)
Tee Higgins (vs. PIT)
DeVante Parker (vs. NE)

Chark gets an upgrade with Gardner Minshew back under center. It’s a brutal matchup against the Ravens and would likely match up against Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who is questionable with a shoulder injury. Chark has some hidden upside for potential garbage time production and is worth a dart throw if you’re a sizable underdog.

Bobby Ellis/Getty Images. Pictured: D.J. Chark

Tier 7

Sterling Shepard (vs. CLE)
Tyler Boyd (vs. PIT)
Keke Coutee (@ IND)
Marquise Brown (vs. JAX)
Jerry Jeudy (vs. BUF)
Michael Gallup (vs. SF)
Christian Kirk (vs. PHI)

Despite Drew Lock throwing for 280 yards and four touchdowns, Jerry Jeudy was underwhelming with two catches for 42 yards. It’s fair to wonder if his ankle injury is to blame for his recent play. Jeudy has the talent to become a high-end WR2 once Lock realizes he should start forcing targets Jeudy’s way. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen in 2020, though.

Tier 8

Rashard Higgins (@ NYG)
Hunter Renfrow (vs. LAC) (-)
Jakobi Meyers (@ MIA) (-)
Kendrick Bourne (@ DAL)
Russell Gage (vs. TB) (-)
Allen Lazard (vs. CAR)
Gabriel Davis (@ DEN)
Chad Hansen (@ IND) (-)
Jamison Crowder (@ LAR) (-)
Darius Slayton (vs. CLE) (+)
Breshad Perriman (@ LAR) (+)
Denzel Mims (@ LAR) (+)
Laviska Shenault (@ BAL)
K.J. Hamler (vs. BUF) (+)
Keelan Cole (@ BAL)
Emmanuel Sanders (vs. KC)
Damiere Byrd (@ MIA)
Sammy Watkins (@ NO) (+)
Golden Tate (vs. CLE)
Darnell Mooney (@ MIN)
Anthony Miller (@ MIN)
Willie Snead (vs. JAX)

(-) high floor = Lean on these WRs if you’re a decent-sized favorite
(+) high ceiling = Lean on these WRs if you’re a decent-sized underdog

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Tight End Tiers

Tier 1

Travis Kelce (@ NO)

Tier 2

Darren Waller (vs. LAC)

Tier 3

Mark Andrews (vs. JAX)

standard te rankings-fantasy-draft
Silas Walker/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Andrews

Tier 4

T.J. Hockenson (@ TEN)
Robert Tonyan Jr. (vs. CAR)

Tier 5

Evan Engram (vs. CLE)
Hunter Henry (@ LV)
Eric Ebron (@ CIN)
Dallas Goedert (@ ARI)
Rob Gronkowski (@ ATL)

Goedert is a tough sit/start call. Hurts lowers the floor/ceiling of every Eagles pass catcher. However, Goedert secured four catches for 43 yards in a game in which Hurt threw for only 167 yards. Zach Ertz also saw his routes run climb up to 62% as he works his way back from an ankle injury. Goedert is a dicey TE1/2 option, and I won’t make any final sit/start calls with him until after running my final projections and release updated tiers on Saturday.

Tier 6

Logan Thomas (vs. SEA)
Noah Fant (vs. BUF)
Dalton Schultz (vs. SF)

Fant put up a goose egg in Week 14 as he was removed out of precaution due to an illness. He should bounce back this week and return to TE1/2 value.

nfl-prop-bets-picks-broncos-vs-chiefs-sunday-night-football-2020-1
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Fant

Tier 7

Jonnu Smith (vs. DET)
Jordan Reed (@ DAL)
Hayden Hurst (vs. TB)

Hurst averaged 81% routes run from Weeks 1-11 but has seen his playing time dip to 66% over the past three games. It puts him well below the TE1 radar and makes him difficult to trust in the fantasy playoffs.

Tier 8

Cole Kmet (@ MIN)
Jordan Akins (@ IND)
Tyler Higbee (vs. NYJ)
Zach Ertz (@ ARI)

Kmet has seen his stock rise over the past four games as he’s leapfrogged Jimmy Graham as the lead tight end in Chicago. The rookie has posted back-to-back games with four or more receptions and can be trusted as a potential streamer play.

Tier 9

Gerald Everett (vs. NYJ)
Irv Smith Jr. (vs. CHI)
Jared Cook (vs. KC)
Austin Hooper (@ NYG)
Dawson Knox (@ DEN)

Smith is another potential stream play after catching four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown with Kyle Rudolph inactive in Week 14. If Rudolph is unable to play again this week, Smith will jump one or two tiers.

Tier 10

Jacob Hollister (@ WAS)
Kyle Rudolph (vs. CHI)
Trey Burton (vs. HOU)
Durham Smythe (vs. NE)
Drew Sample (vs. PIT)

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Kicker Tiers

Tier 1

Justin Tucker (vs. JAX)
Ryan Succop (@ ATL)
Rodrigo Blankenship (vs. HOU)
Daniel Carlson (vs. LAC)
Harrison Butker (@ NO)
Jason Sanders (vs. NE)
Younghoe Koo (vs. TB)
Tyler Bass (@ DEN)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs. DET)

Tier 2

Wil Lutz (vs. KC)
Matt Gay (vs. NYJ)
Mike Nugent (vs. PHI)
Michael Badgley (@ LV)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (@ IND)
Brandon McManus (vs. BUF)
Greg Zuerlein (vs. SF)
Graham Gano (vs. CLE)
Chris Boswell (@ CIN)
Robbie Gould (@ DAL)
Cairo Santos (@ MIN)
Cody Parkey (@ NYG)
Joey Slye (@ GB)
Matt Prater (@ TEN)
Mason Crosby (vs. CAR)
Nick Folk (@ MIA)

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Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Rams kicker Matt Gay

Tier 3

Dustin Hopkins (vs. SEA)
Jason Myers (@ WAS)
Dan Bailey (vs. CHI)
Aldrick Rosas (@ BAL)
Austin Seibert (vs. PIT)

Tier 4

Jake Elliott (@ ARI)
Chase McLaughlin (@ LAR)

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Defense Tiers

Tier 1

Pittsburgh Steelers (@ CIN)
Los Angeles Rams (vs. NYJ)

Tier 2

Baltimore Ravens (vs. JAX)

Tier 3

Seattle Seahawks (@ WAS)
Tennessee Titans (vs. DET)
Buffalo Bills (@ DEN)
Cleveland Browns (@ NYG)
Miami Dolphins (vs. NE)
San Francisco 49ers (@ DAL)

Tier 4

Indianapolis Colts (vs. HOU)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ ATL)
New England Patriots (@ MIA)
Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI)
Green Bay Packers (vs. CAR)
Dallas Cowboys (vs. SF)
Arizona Cardinals (vs. PHI)
Washington Football Team (vs. SEA)

nfl-odds-picks-washington-vs-lions-betting-week-10-2020
Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chase Young.

Tier 5

Chicago Bears (@ MIN)
Las Vegas Raiders (vs. LAC)
New York Giants (vs. CLE)
Philadelphia Eagles (@ ARI)
Kansas City Chiefs (@ NO)
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. PIT)
Denver Broncos (vs. BUF)
Houston Texans (@ IND)
New Orleans Saints (vs. KC)
Atlanta Falcons (vs. TB)
Los Angeles Chargers (@ LV)

Tier 6

New York Jets (@ LAR)
Jacksonville Jaguars (@ BAL)
Detroit Lions (@ TEN)
Carolina Panthers (@ GB)

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