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Fantasy Football

Week 15 NFL Saturday Showdown fantasy preview: Who to start, avoid in tripleheader

What's the only thing better than the NFL on Thursday, Sunday and Monday in the first week of the fantasy playoffs? How about all of the above plus three games on Saturday?! That's right, Week 15 features the Saturday Showdown -- a tripleheader of games exclusively on NFL Network and streaming on NFL+.

For those of you gearing up for your quarterfinal matchups -- or the especially loyal few who are sticking around for more fantasy goodness despite being eliminated -- here's a fantasy primer for Saturday's games.

Minnesota Vikings
2023 · 7-6-0
Cincinnati Bengals
2023 · 7-6-0

WHERE: Paycor Stadium (Cincinnati)

WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on NFL Network/NFL+


The Obvious: TE T.J. Hockenson, WR Justin Jefferson, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja'Marr Chase

T.J. Hockenson
Minnesota Vikings · TE

I know Hockenson is in “The Obvious” plays and that you’re starting him at tight end no matter what. I still feel the need to highlight just how good this opportunity is. The Bengals are allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends this season, including a league-high 86 catches and 913 yards. Hockenson’s floor is QB-proof, and his ceiling (as we’ve seen) is well north of 20 fantasy points. By all accounts, he should be the No. 1 tight end on the week – setting you up with a brilliant start to your fantasy playoffs.

The Bengals -- with a backup quarterback -- are favored at home in what’s expected to be a low-scoring game. After benching Joshua Dobbs for Nick Mullens late in a 3-0 win on Sunday, the Vikings have declared Mullens the starter for Saturday. The 28-year-old has 27 touchdown passes and 27 giveaways in his career and hasn't won a start in more than three years. Even with Justin Jefferson set to play, this Bengals defense will be set up for success against an extremely turnover-prone offense with a brand new starting quarterback.


Jordan Addison
Minnesota Vikings · WR

With Justin Jefferson banged up (again) but back on the field and memories of Addison’s early-season success still lingering, you may be tempted to roll him out on Saturday. I’d be very hesitant. He hasn’t found the end zone since Week 8 and hasn’t reached 11 fantasy points in any of the five games since. He managed just 39 yards on 10 targets in Week 13 and followed it up with just two catches on three targets on Sunday. With Kirk Cousins long gone and Minnesota turning to Nick Mullens, Addison simply doesn’t have a floor worth trusting in your critical playoff matchups.

Other thoughts: Jake Browning has been an absolute revelation for Cincy these last couple weeks (more than 50 total fantasy points), but this matchup is much tougher on paper than the two previous opponents (Jags and Colts). He's a fringe QB1. Tee Higgins is looking more and more like himself and is due for a touchdown (hasn't scored since Week 2), but inconsistent usage has him as more of a flex play this week. If you need a sleeper tight end, Tanner Hudson has been rather impressive as a receiver amidst Browning's breakout, and the Vikings are the softest matchup in the league versus split-wide tight ends. If you need Alexander Mattison or the deeper play of Ty Chandler, good luck -- both guys will likely need to contribute in the receiving game (and/or score a touchdown) to finish with a relevant fantasy line.

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Pittsburgh Steelers
2023 · 7-6-0
Indianapolis Colts
2023 · 7-6-0

WHERE: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network/NFL+


The Obvious: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers · RB

Jaylen Warren
Pittsburgh Steelers · RB

After a November to remember for both Steelers backs, the last two weeks have been rather disappointing. Last month, Warren averaged 16 fantasy points per game and Harris was just short of 14; this month, their combined average sits at 16 points and neither has hit double digits in either December game. So why the optimism? Well, the Colts are the perfect get-right matchup for these backfield mates. Over the Colts’ last four games, the defense has allowed seven running backs to score double-digit fantasy points. Over their last two games, the Titans duo of Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears tagged them for 37.8 and the Bengals duo of Joe Mixon and Chase Brown combined for 40.1. If you’ve relied on either Harris or Warren to get here, I believe you can start either (or both) in the quarterfinals.

Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers · WR

The Colts are a curious matchup for wide receivers: They’ve allowed the seventh-most schedule-adjusted points to receivers lined up out wide but the second-fewest to wideouts in the slot. As such, they seem like a tough-to-middling matchup overall. But Diontae Johnson only runs about 20 percent of his routes from the slot (a role curiously reserved for Allen Robinson) and is quite obviously Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target. He has more touchdowns in this last game and a half with Trubisky (two) than he had in his prior 25 regular-season games. I think he’s a viable WR3 in PPR, under the pretense that Trubisky finds him early, often and hopefully in the painted area (again).

That’s right. Two games (so far), two D/STs in the “Best Plays” section. This is what happens when backup quarterbacks take the helm. In this game, it’s Mitchell Trubisky under center for Pittsburgh with Kenny Pickett out again (ankle sprain). Over its last five games, the Colts’ D/ST has averaged 15.2 fantasy points with more than four sacks per game and four touchdowns. This group has absolutely crushed a gauntlet of questionable quarterbacks and draw yet another one in Week 15. Hopefully you’ve picked them up after reading the waiver column -- if not, go check your league to see if they’re available.


Zack Moss
Indianapolis Colts · RB

This one is kind of tough, and I would not say Moss is unstartable. But we absolutely need to adjust our expectations from his early-season, Jonathan Taylor-less dominance. In the last two games without Taylor, Moss has seen a whopping 43 opportunities (32 carries, 11 targets) and turned in a grand total of 17.3 fantasy points. He hasn’t hit double-digit points since Week 8 -- which is also the last time he scored a touchdown. The good news is that the volume is still here, which should provide him plenty of chances against Pittsburgh. The bad news is that the efficiency and touchdowns are currently nonexistent (and Pittsburgh’s defense is no slouch). Moss is in flex consideration but is by no means a lock for your lineup.

Other thoughts: You're going to need a big play from George Pickens to justify a start, so I'd look elsewhere if you can. The Steelers have been very tough on wide receivers and Josh Downs has been struggling of late, so as much as I'd love for him to win us all a week off waivers, I don't think this is the one. Ready for Tanner Hudson 2.0? How about Colts tight end Kylen Granson, who had 72 yards two weeks ago and gets a Steelers defense that's allowed an average of 22.4 fantasy points to the position over the last three weeks. No risk it, no biscuit.

Denver Broncos
2023 · 7-6-0
Detroit Lions
2023 · 9-4-0

WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)

WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET on NFL Network/NFL+


The Obvious: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, TE Sam LaPorta

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · QB

Wilson has been riding the floor for nearly two months now, scoring between 14 and 19 fantasy points in every game since Week 8. I don’t mind him as a streamer on those merits alone (especially in today’s QB landscape), but I also think we’re in for a ceiling game against a Lions defense that’s allowed 20-plus fantasy points to each of the last four QBs to play a full game against them (Saints excluded).

Javonte Williams
Denver Broncos · RB

This one’s less about the matchup (the Lions are middle of the pack against RBs) and more about the consistency from Javonte Williams. Since Week 7, he’s averaged 14.2 fantasy points per game (RB17 over that span) and topped 70 scrimmage yards in six of seven contests. He’s a locked-and-loaded low-end RB2.

Courtland Sutton
Denver Broncos · WR

Courtland Sutton has now scored 10 touchdowns in 2023, matching his total from the prior four seasons combined and trailing only Tyreek Hill in that category. The Lions have allowed 15 receiving touchdowns to wideouts this season. You see where this is going? By my math, Sutton’s en route to his first multi-touchdown game of the season. He’s a must-start.

David Montgomery
Detroit Lions · RB

David Montgomery has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game he’s played all the way through this season (he was injured midway through Week 6 and missed three other games). He’s the model of consistency. Meanwhile, no team has allowed more fantasy points to running backs this season than the Denver Broncos. I’d expect around 75 scrimmage yards and a touchdown from the “Bruise” half of Detroit’s “Rhythm and Bruise” backfield.

Other thoughts: If you have a good streaming option at QB, it's likely I'd like that guy more than Jared Goff, who's on a bit of a cold streak and up against a vastly improved Broncos defense. He's not bad enough to make the "Bad Play" section, but I'm not optimistic. Jerry Jeudy has consistently come up just short of a big fantasy day over the course of the season. If you're desperate for a flex play, he could finally put it together in a great matchup (emphasis on desperate, Jeudy has no floor and a yet unrealized ceiling).

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