Your league semifinals should be on tap for this weekend, and your humble fantasy football analyst has one bit of general advice: Don’t overthink. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from people asking if they should start Matt Forte, or Calvin Johnson, or even Aaron Rodgers (!!!). Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! Start your studs, always.
Remember that both this column and the accompanying weekly video are posted on Thursdays, so please make sure to check your players’ status as close to kickoff as possible. My morning blog is published on Fridays, and I’ll tweet lineup-related news all weekend as I hear it. The last thing you want is to set your lineups with dated information.
Read on for your Week 15 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget that the Colts and Jaguars play Thursday night, while the Cowboys visit the Saints on Saturday. Make sure to set your lineups accordingly
As always, all this week’s recommendations aren’t included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Write video blog.
Start him: Jason Campbell, Redskins
Campbell needs to start getting some respect, because he’s been one of fantasy’s top 15 or so quarterbacks this season. He’s on pace for 3,600 yards and more than 20 touchdowns, and that’s not too shabby.
This week, Campbell and the ‘Skins host the Giants. If you’ve watched the Giants lately, you know that you and two of your fellow fantasy owners – even the guys who eat seven or eight hot dogs at your annual draft party – could run circles around their defensive backs. Look for a solid outing from Campbell.
Sit him: Carson Palmer, Bengals
Palmer admitted this week that the Bengals are “a team that throws it about 20 times and runs it 30.” He’s about right - over the last four weeks, Palmer has averaged 25 passes and 157 yards per game, and thrown three touchdowns. The Bengals probably don’t want to mess with success, especially against the Chargers, whose defense ranks 10th against the pass but 21st against the run. That’s all well and good for Real Life Carson Palmer and the Bengals, but crummy for Fantasy Carson Palmer and his owners.
Pick him up: Chad Henne, Dolphins
Henne is 7-3 as a starter, and his stats aren’t bad, as he’s averaging about 200 yards and a touchdown per game. He’s thrown for 555 yards over the last two weeks, and has a road game at Tennessee coming up. The Titans have improved against the pass, but they’re still a team that can be thrown on. If you’re in a QB pinch, Henne is an option. Not a great option, but an option nonetheless.
Start him: Maurice Morris, Lions
Kevin Smith is done for the season with a torn knee ligament, and while some overthinkers might be looking at rookie Aaron Brown, Morris is the logical choice to fill in for the rest of the season. This week the Lions host the Cardinals, who have allowed 4.5 yards per carry this year, and got torched by Frank Gore and the 49ers on Monday. Morris isn’t Gore, but he is a guy who’s going to get the ball 15-20 times, and that makes him a worthwhile play.
Sit him: LeSean McCoy, Eagles
I was all over McCoy a few weeks ago, because he looked great – kind of like a newer model of Brian Westbrook. He carried the ball 37 times for 175 yards and a score in Weeks 11 and 12, and looked like he had become a weekly must-start.
Unfortunately, McCoy has put up two stinkbombs since then – a six-carry, two-yard debacle against the Falcons, and a 10-carry, 28-yard killer against the Giants, when big Leonard Weaver got a goal-line carry in the fourth quarter. McCoy still touched the ball 14 times against the Giants, but after the last two weeks, and with the sturdy 49er run defense coming to town, he scares the heck out of me right now. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I own McCoy on two teams, and I think I’m going to use other options.
Pick him up: Mike Hart, Colts
Hart had nine carries for 28 yards on Sunday, with five of those carries coming on a fourth-quarter drive. Even though the Colts have a shot at going undefeated , we’ve seen them rest players in previous years after clinching home-field. If you had your AFC playoff spot locked up, and injury-prone Joseph Addai was your lead running back, wouldn’t you make sure his backup got plenty of work over the last few games? Of course you would, and so will the Colts. If the Colts lose to the Jags, Hart will be a great play in Week 16.
Start him: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Bowe returns this week after serving a four-game suspension for taking a banned substance. Supposedly, he took a diuretic to help him lose weight during the preseason, which you’d understand from someone like Oprah or Artie Lange or Andy Reid, but not a starting NFL wide receiver. Oh, well.
The Chiefs aren’t good, but Bowe is the best receiver they have, and they employed a no-huddle offense quite a bit last week while throwing the ball 43 times. If you kept Bowe on your roster through the suspension, you have to start him now.
Sit him: Chad OchoCinco, Bengals
See Palmer, Carson. Number 85 has been solid but inconsistent this season, with 38 yards or less in three of his last five games. OchoCinco isn’t a must-bench, but if you have other good receivers, you should really think about it.
One thing OchoCinco has been consistently excellent at is tweeting, and you should absolutely follow him at @OGOchoCinco. He’ll do things on Twitter like say he’s going to an 11:30 movie at a specific theater in Cincinnati, and pay for the first 100 people that come to meet him. The NFL should stop fining this guy and instead have him teach fan outreach classes at rookie symposiums.
Pick him up: Devin Aromashodu, Bears
Jay Cutler said a few weeks ago that he was looking forward to Aromashodu getting more playing time. When it finally happened, Cutler kept firing in Aromashodu’s direction, targeting him 12 times for eight completions, 76 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in Week 14.
Aromashodu plays in the same spot as Devin Hester, so if Hester returns this week from his calf injury, there could be a playing time issues for Aromashodu. With that said, after the way Aromashodu produced last week, and with the Bears out of contention, you have to think they’ll give him a long look.
Also: Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald sprained his knee Monday night. The MRI was negative, but if you own him, this week could be a nail-biter for you until kickoff … The Broncos host the Raiders, who will start Charlie Frye instead of all-time bust JaMarcus Russell at quarterback. If you own the Bronco defense, you’ve already reached your quota of Christmas presents … If you’re still scrambling for running backs, Cleveland’s Chris Jennings is worth a look after carrying 20 times for 73 yards and a score against the Steelers last week. Jerome Harrison is still around to muck things up for Jennings, though.
Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.
John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy. You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37).