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Fantasy Spin: Sanchez A Must Start

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Joe Dolan is the managing editor of FantasyGuru.com and a host for SiriusXM Radio. A former writer for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Joe still contributes to the site with on-camera segments and written columns. He can be heard hosting "SiriusXM Fantasy Football Gameday" every NFL Sunday from 1-7 PM on Sirius 210, XM 87.

There are a ton of fantasy relevant players in this game, and it's huge game to boot. What's the quickest way you can break down every fantasy-relevant player in this game?

Have you ever done one of those word-recognition games? I'll do my best to describe each of the meaningful players as quickly as possible ... with one word and a brief definition. Deal?

QB Mark Sanchez - FAITH. Sanchez has had numbers for the entire year. I wouldn't totally bail on him because of a shaky game against the Seahawks.

QB Tony Romo - ONE. That's the number of quarterbacks who have failed to top 23 fantasy points against the Eagles in the last seven games. Of course, that quarterback was Romo. Romo has also failed to attempt 30 passes in a game since Week 6.

RB LeSean McCoy - FOCUS. McCoy had to deal with a tough matchup after a family tragedy last week, which he admitted affected him. He should bounce back against a Dallas defense he shredded two weeks ago.

RB DeMarco Murray - GROUND. That's straight where the Cowboys are running Murray. He had 41 touches last week. There's no reason to sit him.

RB Darren Sproles - SEPTEMBER. That's the last time Sproles had 10 or more touches from scrimmage. He's a risky flex play at this time of the fantasy season because you likely need a touchdown or your league needs to count return yards for him to come through.

WR Jeremy Maclin - MATCHUP-PROOF. Does it count as one word if you use a hyphen? Anyway, even in a rough came Maclin came through with a touchdown against Seattle last week. The only times in recent weeks he hasn't put up double-digit points in a PPR league were in blowout wins.

WR Dez Bryant - THIRTY. That's the percentage of the Cowboys' targets Bryant has seen over the last five weeks, a huge number.

WR Jordan Matthews - MAXWELL. Matthews had a hard time with Seahawks veteran corner Byron Maxwell last week. It was a learning experience for the rookie, and he should get his against Dallas.

WR Riley Cooper - BLOCKING. Chip Kelly has praised Cooper's ability to block on the perimeter. But that's the reason he's playing, which should tell you all you need to know about his fantasy value (see also: Brent Celek).

WR Terrance Williams - COLE. Williams has 25.4 TOTAL PPR fantasy points over the last six weeks. Cole Beasley has nearly doubled him up over that span (Beasley's actually been pretty productive of late, but would be a desperation play only this week).

TE Zach Ertz - MARTELLUS. The Bears' tight end Martellus Bennett had a huge game against Dallas last week with 12 catches and a touchdown. Ertz had a goose egg against Dallas on Thanksgiving, but it was good to see him contribute with a touchdown against Seattle last week.

TE Jason Witten - DOYLE. As in Jack, the last and only tight end to score a touchdown against the Eagles this year back in Week 2. Witten is a low-end starter, as he has just three catches total over his last two games.

How do you decide whether or not to bench a big-name player this week?

Aah, I know where this question comes from. Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Jimmy Graham ended a ton of fantasy seasons prematurely last week. Drew Brees wasn't a whole lot better, and it's only because of garbage time that he managed to alleviate at least some of the terrible play he put on tape against a bad Carolina team last week.

Was any of this predictable? Well, in the case of Brees, no. It was a home game against a terrible defense that had given up numbers all year. Even if Graham is banged up, he has plenty of other weapons to whom he can throw. It was just a bad game.

But for Graham and Demaryius, they were banged up. Graham had a warning sign with his awful goose egg in Week 13. Peyton was going up against a really tough Buffalo defense with his No. 1 receiver injured. So perhaps the warning signs were there for him, as well. But hindsight is 20/20 – Demaryius was listed as probable on Friday, and tight end Julius Thomas was active. Of course, once the game kicked off, it was obvious that Demaryius was clearly not 100 percent, and Julius didn't even play a snap despite being active. So to avoid that disappointment, you essentially needed to read between the lines and do something that's considered borderline blasphemous in fantasy football – sitting Peyton with your season on the line.

The worst thing you can do, if you survived last week, is be reactionary and bench all your studs who have tough matchups because of what happened to Peyton last week. Instead, factor in all variables. The first I'd look at is injury status (check the injury report below). Then, I'd look at matchups. And finally, I need to examine my other options. Additionally, make sure your "other" options don't play before your stud. You don't want to be stuck playing someone who is inactive because you didn't realize all of your bench options played at an earlier time.

For an example, let's say you've got Eddie Lacy. We know he's banged up. We know his matchup in Buffalo is really tough. If he plays, and you have someone like Latavius Murray on the bench, you may decide to make that call for upside. But for, say, Bishop Sankey, who hasn't gotten it done all year? Not going to happen.

So to sum up, I'm not benching a true fantasy stud just because he has some bumps and bruises, nor am I benching a stud because he has a little tougher matchup. But if multiple factors come together and I have legitimate depth on my roster, I will consider it.

What are your flex rankings (RB/WR/TE from #31-60 overall) this week?

FantasyGuru.com's Week 15 Flex Rankings: 31-60
Rank Player Rank Player
31 WR Golden Tate, Lions 46 RB Fred Jackson, Bills
32 RB Latavius Murray, Raiders 47 WR Eric Decker, Jets
33 WR Julian Edelman, Patriots 48 WR Martavis Bryant, Steelers
34 WR Jordan Matthews, Eagles 49 WR Kenny Stills, Saints
35 WR Keenan Allen, Chargers 50 WR Nate Washington, Titans
36 RB Mark Ingram, Saints 51 RB Jeremy Hill, Bengals
37 WR Brandon LaFell, Patriots 52 WR Charles Johnson, Vikings
38 WR Marques Colston, Saints 53 WR Robert Woods, Bills
39 RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers 54 RB Alfred Morris, Washington
40 WR Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers 55 RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins
41 WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans 56 RB Chris Johnson, Jets
42 RB Rashad Jennings, Giants 57 WR Marqise Lee, Jaguars
43 WR Roddy White, Falcons 58 RB Chris Ivory, Jets
44 WR Steve Smith, Ravens 59 RB Dan Herron, Colts
45 TE Martellus Bennett, Bears 60 TE Larry Donnell, Giants


START 'EM

QB: Mark Sanchez, Eagles – I'm back on the bandwagon this week. Playing against Dallas after playing Seattle's defense is like going from sleeping on a bed of nails onto a cloud.

RB: Latavius Murray, Raiders – The Chiefs have given up two rushing touchdowns this season. Both of them were to Murray in Week 12. It's a defense that gave up 100 yards on the ground to the immortal Kerwynn Williams last week, so I'll feel good about rolling with Murray this week.

WR: Nate Washington, Titans – If I need a fringy receiver this week, I'll choose Washington. He gets to go up against an awful Jets secondary with Justin Hunter out and Kendall Wright still banged up.

TE: Larry Donnell, Giants – By the numbers, this is a slam dunk. Donnell scored three touchdowns against Washington earlier this year, and it's a defense that's given up back-to-back huge games to Coby Fleener and Jared Cook, as well.

SIT 'EM

QB: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Tannehill's had some good games in bad matchups and bad games in good matchups, but if I have another appealing option I'll try to avoid him on the road in New England this week.

RB: Giovani Bernard, Bengals – Bernard admitted to reporters this week that he's going to lose touches to Jeremy Hill, who has simply been more effective since Bernard came back from injury.

WR: Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, 49ers – As Dante wrote 700 years ago,  "Abandon all hope, ye who enter Seattle with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback."

TE: Andrew Quarless, Packers – Again, it's hard to find a good "sit" name at tight end, but a Packers tight end against a nasty Bills defense is as good a place as any to start.

Who are some important most added/most dropped players I should have on my radar this week?

MOST ADDED ...

QB Johnny Manziel, Browns (added in over 11,000 NFL.com leagues) – The Browns made a move that needed to be made. Whether or not you think Manziel turns into a success in the NFL, the fact of the matter is that he's accounted for as many touchdowns in about 20 offensive snaps over the last month as Brian Hoyer has in five games – one. Hoyer's been terrible, and while a lot of that is on Josh Gordon and this receiving corps, Manziel at least offers some playmaking ability. Remember, Tim Tebow was a "playmaker," and he was a viable fantasy starting quarterback down the stretch a couple years ago. If I've been streaming QBs all season, I'll take a risk on Manziel against the Bengals this week.

MOST DROPPED ...

QB Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (dropped in over 4,000 NFL.com leagues) – Even with the matchup against the Raiders last week, I advised players to bench Kaepernick, because he's not playing well at all. He laid another egg, and he can be dropped in all leagues. I'd rather have Johnny Manziel.

INJURIES TO WATCH

Quarterbacks

Cam Newton, Panthers – Newton (back) was injured in a car accident this week. He is not seriously hurt, considering, but Derek Anderson will start against the Bucs this week.

Zach Mettenberger, Titans – Mettenberger (shoulder) won't start this week and may be done for the year. Jake Locker will start against the Jets, if you're desperate.

Colt McCoy, Washington – McCoy (neck) has gotten practice time in this week, and coach Jay Gruden has said McCoy will start if he's healthy.

Running Backs

Eddie Lacy, Packers – Lacy (hip) has been limited in practice this week. If he can't play in a tough matchup in Buffalo, it'll be James Starks.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Charles (ankle/knee) was limited on Thursday. He's expected to play against Oakland, but if he doesn't go, Knile Davis would be the workhorse.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers – Mathews (ankle) has missed multiple practices this week. If he can't play against Denver, expect a split of Branden Oliver and Donald Brown.

Denard Robinson, Jaguars – Robinson (foot) is expected to miss the rest of the year. That should give Toby Gerhart and/or Storm Johnson another shot.

Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Crowell (hip) has been a full participant in practice this week and should be good to go against Cincy.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Williams (hand) returned to practice this week but may not be able to play against Tampa. That's good news for fantasy, as Jonathan Stewart is the far better back.

Reggie Bush, Lions – Reggie (ankle) has been limited in practice this week. He's not a realistic fantasy option at this point in the year.

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones, Falcons – Julio (hip) has missed multiple practices this week. It's a good matchup against Pittsburgh, so if he goes he's probably someone you want to start, but keep an eye on his status.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Demaryius (ankle) played last week and is expected to play against San Diego this week, but remember he clearly looked limited last week.

Torrey Smith, Ravens – Torrey (knee) played last week, but only 15 snaps, and he was clearly a decoy. Make sure you check his status heading up to kickoff with the Jaguars, but be prepared to have another option (Kamar Aiken filled in admirably last week).

Andre Johnson, Texans – Andre (concussion) has yet to be cleared. If he doesn't play against the Colts, former Eagle Damaris Johnson could have a big role.

DeSean Jackson, Washington – DeSean (shin/leg) still isn't practicing at full speed and he may not be able to play again this week.

Kendall Wright, Titans – Wright (hand) has been limited in practice this week, but he still may not be able to play in a great matchup against the Jets. Check his status.

Percy Harvin, Jets – Harvin (ankle) may not be able to play against the Titans this week.

Tight Ends

Julius Thomas, Broncos – Julius (ankle) was "active" last week but didn't play a snap. He's expected to have some sort of role against San Diego this week.

Greg Olsen, Panthers – Olsen (knee) has been playing hurt, but has been playing very well.

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals – Gresham (toe) was added to the injury report on Thursday.

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