2. Peyton Manning (IND) – In recent weeks, teams facing the Lions have chosen to lean heavily on the run, and with good reason, but it has negatively affected the fantasy potential for the respective QB’s facing them. We doubt that this trend will have much, if any, affect on Manning. With a struggling and beat up Joseph Addai, it only makes sense that the Colts will throw the ball early and often in this match up. Besides, it isn’t like Detroit’s secondary is top shelf. In fact the Lions pass defense is almost as pathetic as their run defense. Regardless, Manning makes for a great fantasy start in week 15.
3. Aaron Rodgers (GB) – In his last 4 games, he has accumulated 10 total TD’s (9 passing, 1 rushing) and no less than 227 passing yards. Rodgers should continue to light it up in week 15 against a fairly generous and undermanned Jaguars secondary. Jacksonville has allowed 21 passing TD’s so far this season tying them for 3rd most in the NFL. In addition, they will be without their best cover CB Rashean Mathis who is out for the season with a knee injury.
4. Jay Cutler (DEN) – At one point this season, the Carolina pass defense provided opposing QB’s with a formidable challenge, but here lately, they can’t stop anyone. In their last 2 games, the Panthers have allowed 619 passing yards and 5 TD passes with just 1 interception. They were even torched by the typically quiet, yet efficient, Jeff Garcia on Monday night. This should be good news for Jay Cutler who has been just the opposite in his last 2 games. Considering the Broncos are way down the depth chart with regard to RB’s, the Denver passing game will be vital to their success. Cutler should throw early and often, and the way the Carolina secondary has been playing lately, fantasy owners should be pleased with the results.
5. Phillip Rivers (SD) – While Rivers has produced monster fantasy efforts sporadically throughout the season, we were not expecting him to light up an Oakland secondary that had been on fire shutting down several quality passing attacks prior to this meeting. The fact of the matter is that Rivers is a tough guy to gauge. As soon as you write him off, he will explode, and as soon as you think he is going to come up big, he implodes. For that reason, he is never a sure thing against any opponent, but you have to like his chances against a terrible Kansas City pass defense in week 15. The Chiefs rank just 29th in the NFL against the pass and Rivers was able to throw for 316 yards and 2 TD’s against them only a few short weeks ago. The weather in Kansas City on Sunday is not expected to be ideal, so that could play a factor, but otherwise Rivers is a great start.
6. Tyler Thigpen (KC) – After going on a tear, Thigpen has since cooled off the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t been terrible during that span, but he hasn’t exactly been great either. We like his chances to finally get back on track in week 15 with a very favorable match up against San Diego at home. The Chargers pass defense ranks 30th in the NFL and can best be described as terrible on many levels. In a week 10 meeting at San Diego, Thigpen lit the Chargers up for 292 total yards, 3 TD’s, and no interceptions. The only thing that may hamper his attempt at a similar performance would be poor weather conditions which are a real possibility for KC on Sunday based on early reports.
7. Donovan McNabb (PHI) – Ever since he was benched in week 12, McNabb has performed on a much higher level. This is a trend that should continue into a promising week 15 match up against a suspect Cleveland pass defense. The Eagles are still battling for a spot in the playoffs so McNabb should be at the top of his game. At the very least, he should put up solid numbers at home against the struggling Browns on Monday night.
8. Tony Romo (DAL) – While a week 15 match up against a very solid Giants pass defense at home may prove difficult, it should be a cake walk in comparison to the Steelers defense Romo faced on the road last week. Don’t get us wrong, this is still a risky match up for the talented signal caller, but there are a couple of trends in Romo’s favor. For one, he has thrown for no less than 3 TD passes in any of his 5 starts at home this season. Granted, none of those games were against the quality of defense he will face this week, but this stat is promising none the less. Secondly, Romo has an excellent track record against the G-Men. He threw for 4 TD’s in each of his 2 games against the eventual Super Bowl champs last season. He isn’t the safest bet as a week 15 starting fantasy QB, but we like his chances.
9. Shaun Hill (SF) – In spite of his stellar play, Hill continues to fly low on the fantasy radar. Since taking over as the 49ers starting QB, he has yet to go a single game without throwing at least 1 TD pass. In fact, he has thrown at least 2 TD passes in 4 of his last 5 starts. He should be able to continue his outstanding play with a favorable week 15 match up against Miami. The Dolphins rank 21st in the NFL against the pass in addition to ranking near the bottom in pass plays allowed over 20 yards with 40. Hill should be solid with this match up.
10. Matt Cassel (NE) – Due to the untimely and unfortunate death of his father, Cassel’s status for Sunday’s game against Oakland is uncertain. Even if he chooses to play it is a very difficult match up to evaluate in terms of fantasy. Just a couple of weeks ago, this would have been billed as a big time match up as Cassel and the Raiders pass defense were both playing as well at an elite level, but since that time, both have stumbled badly. Our best guess is that Cassel will come out on top against Oakland, but this match up is still risky for him to say the least. Brett Favre put up monster numbers following his father’s death a couple of years ago, but everyone handles these situations in their own way. Football has its place, but it’s far more important that Cassel is able to get through this difficult time as a human being. We hope he can do that. We will update his status as soon as we know something. UPDATE: Cassell practiced on Thursday and is expected to play on Sunday.
11. Eli Manning (NYG) – The last time he faced the Cowboys in week 9, Manning only managed to pass for 147 yards, but he more than made up for it by throwing 3 TD passes. Over the years, Manning has had very mixed results against Dallas which is not surprising considering he is hit or miss against virtually everyone he faces. For that reason it is difficult to know exactly what to expect from him this time around. The Dallas secondary has been very solid of late and their fierce pass rush has yielded an NFL leading 45 sacks. Manning is an extremely capable fantasy QB against anyone, but in our opinion, this match up presents plenty of risk.
12. Jason Campbell (WAS) – For the most part, Campbell has put fairly mediocre fantasy numbers throughout the season. In his defense, he has faced some brutal match ups, especially in recent weeks. Fortunately, he should get some much needed relief in the form of the Bengals 22nd ranked pass defense. The Cincinnati secondary has progressively gotten worse over the course of the season and their pass rush is almost non existent. Considering Campbell’s lackluster campaign to this point, you probably shouldn’t expect monster numbers against anyone, but this match up bodes well for a solid game.
13. Chad Pennington (MIA) – A match up against a weak San Francisco pass defense is favorable, but Pennington very rarely puts up numbers that make you say wow against anyone. He should be decent given the quality of the opposition, and the fact that it is a home game does not hurt, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary.
14. Jeff Garcia (TB) – He is coming off by far his best fantasy effort of the season torching Carolina on Monday night. A match up against the Falcons 23rd ranked pass defense appears promising as well. That said, you probably shouldn’t expect him to repeat the lofty numbers of week 14. He should put up decent numbers, but we wouldn’t suggest pinning your hopes for a fantasy championship on the arm of Garcia. UPDATE: Garcia has been deactivated for week 15. Brian Griese will start in his place. Check injury report: calf (out - do not use)
15. Matt Ryan (ATL) – The last time he faced Tampa in week 2, Ryan was absolutely terrible, completing just 13 of 33 passes for 158 yards, no TD’s, and 2 interceptions. Needless to say, he has come a very long way since week 2, and he will certainly fare better this time around. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much and Ryan makes for a risky start against a bitter Buccaneers defense. This might be a good week to look at a safer option.
16. Brett Favre (NYJ) – After a promising start to his ’08 campaign, Favre’s fantasy numbers have been erratic and for the most part, very disappointing. He is capable of breaking out any week, but there is very little reason to believe that it’s going to happen in week 15 against Buffalo. He has failed to throw a single TD pass in his last 2 games while throwing 2 interceptions. Favre had similar results the last time he faced the Bills in week 9, throwing 0 TD passes and a pick. Hopefully, he can get on track this week, but we just don’t see it happening, at least not in a big way.
17. Matt Schaub (HOU) – In spite of Schaub’s huge week 14 performance against Green Bay, you might be best served leaving him on the bench in week 15. Scahub has been absolutely terrible in his career against the Titans. He was knocked out very early in both games against Tennessee last season and his lone meeting against them this season produced disastrous results. In that game, Schaub only completed 17 of 37 pass attempts for 188 yards, 0 TD’s and 3 interceptions. He was also sacked 3 times and fumbled twice in that match up. There is always the off chance that he can reverse his fortunes against Tennessee this time around. He is certainly talented enough to do so and this offense has really been clicking, but the risk is high to say the least.
18. Seneca Wallace (SEA) – Believe it or not, Wallace has decent potential for week 15. He coming off of a big 3 TD performance last week against New England, and you might be surprised to know that he has thrown for 7 TD’s and 0 interceptions in his last 4 starts. While he is playing well and a week 15 match up against St. Louis is extremely favorable, Wallace probably isn’t the guy you want to rely on to get you to the next round of the fantasy playoffs. Check injury report: hamstring
19. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – He has picked up the pace in recent weeks, but a match up against the Ravens 2nd ranked pass defense in Baltimore is less than favorable. The Ravens give up just 176 passing yards per game and lead the NFL with 22 interceptions. The last time these two teams met in Pittsburgh in week 4, Roethlisberger threw for 191 yards, 1 TD, and 1 interception. There is no reason to believe that he will fare any better this time around on the road.
20. Kerry Collins (TEN) – In a run heavy offense, Collins doesn’t offer a great deal of fantasy value most weeks, but he could do some damage against a Houston secondary that has allowed 20 passing TD’s already this season. While the Titans will probably elect to run the ball as usual, we would not be surprised if Collins produced decent numbers with this match up. At the same time, he probably isn’t the guy you want to entrust with a potential fantasy championship on the line.
* Drew Brees and Kyle Orton are not recognized in week 15 QB rankings. For info on those players, please check Thursday Night Advice NO @ CHI at the top right of the home page.