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IDP Nerds Man Coverage: Week 15

It's the first round of the playoffs! @Glosser13 has you covered with a full slate of start/sit recommendations. Get your #IDPNerd on and check out this week's 'Man Coverage' article

Welcome back, IDP Nerds; we’ve worked all season long for this. It’s playoff time. I can only hope that you have successfully made it to the playoffs and are starting your quest to secure another IDP dynasty fantasy football championship. If not, it’s ok and I’m hoping you’re still riding with us because consolation brackets deserve some respect, especially when an additional rookie draft pick is at stake. I’m excited to announce we had a huge week to wrap up the regular season with a 76.92% accuracy in Week 14, our best hit rate this season. Let’s hope we can stay hot as the most important games of the season are ready to start. Here we go with our Week 15 start and sit recommendations.

Check out the teams putting together the start/sit columns this season. Follow us, friend us, and tweet us.  We look forward to hearing from you! 

NOTE: Rankings are based on a 12-team PPR league. So, saying WR2 means top 24, or TE1 means top 12, etc., and are pulled from Fantasy Pros consensus expert rankings.

Minnesota Vikings @  Cincinnati Bengals


Ivan Pace LB, Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 23: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) is chased out of the pocket by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. (40) during the third quarter of an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers on October 23, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

In our biggest game of the season, we will turn to an undrafted rookie, just like we anticipated. This isn’t standard protocol, but when we have a player thriving in a situation like Ivan Pace, we have no choice. The former University of Cincinnati defender has been an absolute stud over the last three weeks. Ivan Pace has averaged 10.3 tackles per game and scored at least 18 fantasy points in all three contests.

The Cincinnati Bengals offense has surrendered 59 tackles per game this season, including 16.5 per game to the linebacker position. They have also allowed six LB1 performances this season. The combination of a favorable matchup and the rookie linebacker playing so well makes this a perfect start for IDP managers needing a big performance in the opening round of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts


Elandon Roberts LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

We head to the other end of the spectrum in this one. IDP managers will need to lean on an old veteran in Elandon Roberts in this matchup. There hasn’t been an NFL team that has been hit harder with injuries at the LB position more than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Elandon Roberts has stepped up and provided solid production for our fantasy teams. The 29-year-old LB has scored double-digit fantasy points in six of his last seven games. In his only game, he fell short; he was forced out of action with an injury after just 15 snaps.

The Indianapolis Colts are ranked as the fourth most favorable matchup for linebackers this season. They have allowed the fourth most tackles (234) to the position this season. Elandon Roberts looks to become the sixth different LB to record a top-12 finish against the Colts this season. IDP managers should feel confident in the veteran LB this week.

Denver Broncos @  Detroit Lions


Jonathon Cooper DL, Denver Broncos 

This was a tough one, and I wish I could choose two here because I love Jonathon Cooper and P.J. Locke in this matchup. I’m leaning toward Cooper because defensive line production is typically tougher to find this time of year. The young Broncos EDGE rusher is coming off 10 fantasy points or more in four straight games. He’s been solid all season long for IDP managers who acquired him on waivers.

Jonathan Cooper has had double-digit fantasy points in nearly 70% of his games this season. This week, he has a good matchup against the Detroit Lions, who allow the 4th most tackles (18.7) to the DL position this season. This might not be a huge game for the former Ohio State Buckeye, but he should turn in a worthy enough performance from your DL position.

Atlanta Falcons @  Carolina Panthers


Derrick Brown DL Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 24: Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown (95) puts pressure on Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) as he throws the ball during an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers on December 24, 2022, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)

Derrick Brown has had a breakout season for the Carolina Panthers. He is a must-start in DT-premium leagues this week against the Atlanta Falcons. The Atlanta offense has allowed the second most tackles (283) to the DL position. The former Auburn Tiger interior defender has been a lone bright spot for an underperforming Carolina Panthers team this season. Brown has multiple double-digit tackle games this season. He’s a potential matchup-swinging player this week in DT-premium formats; he has had great success against the Falcons over his career, including an eight-tackle and one-sack performance earlier this season.

Chicago Bears @  Cleveland Browns


Anthony Walker LB, Cleveland Browns

Honestly, this is such a good matchup on both sides. I have zero confidence in anyone other than the studs in this game. The ultimate decision here was based on the rotation at LB for the Cleveland defense, and Anthony Walker has been the least reliable from that unit. This is a huge game for playoff implications on both sides, and I see this being a low-scoring defensive battle. The former Northwestern LB has been battling soft tissue injuries for most of the season, and I’m not confident he’ll hold up for four quarters in this one. This is an ugly game that I would look to fade if I could afford to.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @  Green Bay Packers


Rashan Gary DL, Green Bay Packers

This one hurts because Rashan Gary appeared to be back to his usual self after a breakout game on Thanksgiving. He has collected 4.5 sacks in his last four games. The former Michigan Wolverine has nine sacks this season, with six coming in two games. This decision this week is solely based on you having a better option on your current roster.

Rashan Gary’s tackle floor is just not enough to justify a confident start for me, so you would need to bank on him having at least a half-sack. The Tampa Bay offensive line has been above average this season, allowing just over two sacks per game. They have only surrendered four DL1 weeks this season. The combination of an unpredictable matchup, Gary’s low tackle floor, and his snaps decreasing over the past three games make me feel he could be a big letdown in a must-win game for you.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins


David Long LB, Miami Dolphins 

David Long has stepped up as the Dolphins top option at LB after Jerome Baker was sent to short-term IR. Long has been dependable with back-to-back games with at least 7 tackles for Vic Fangio’s defense. Long had been playing inconsistent snaps alongside Baker but now has stepped up in an every-down role. The matchup isn’t great as the Jets offense only allows 14.8 tackles per game to linebackers this season. However, they have allowed six LB1 weeks this season. This is shaping up to be a potential low-scoring game, with Tyreek Hill being a game-time decision. The New York offense has leaned heavily on the running game this season when they’ve been effective. The Miami defense will need their linebackers to help stop that attack. I like Long’s tackle volume to be pretty high in this one.

New York Giants @  New Orleans Saints


Xavier McKinney DB, New York Giants

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 15: Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) looks on after being tackled by New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) during the NFL game between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings on January 15th, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire)

In Week 14, Xavier McKinney broke his four-game streak of double-digit tackles. I love this spot in Week 15 to bounce back. The former Alabama DB is on pace to record his best season as an IDP. The New York Giants travel to New Orleans to play the Saints in what shapes up to be a low-scoring game. Over his last five games, McKinney has recorded 47 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. He’s been a consistent tackler, and I expect him to return to that against the New Orleans passing attack. The Saints’ offense allows the 10th most tackles per game to the safety position and has surrendered seven DB1 weeks this season.

Houston Texans @  Tennessee Titans


Harold Landry DL, Tennessee Titans 

Harold Landry has been on a tear over the past two games and looks back from his ACL injury that cost him the entire 2022 season. The Titans EDGE rusher has had 13 tackles and 3.5 sacks over his last two games. He has a unique matchup with a struggling Houston offense who are down their franchise quarterback as well as most of their young wide receiver core. Harold Landy has been quiet since returning from injury this season, but he has a good chance of recording his fourth consecutive 200+ point fantasy season with a strong finish. Have no fear with Harold Landry in your lineup in this Week 15 matchup.

Kansas City Chiefs @  New England Patriots


Myles Bryant DB, New England Patriots 

With a full slate of games, I didn’t forget about my CB-required leagues. Myles Bryant has a nice matchup this week with an angry Patrick Mahomes traveling to Foxborough. The New England cornerback has been extremely consistent this season at the cornerback position; he’s averaging 12.8 fantasy points per game. He draws a favorable matchup with the Kansas City offense, which has allowed the fifth-most tackles (185) to the CB position. The Chiefs have allowed six DB1 performances this season. Myles Bryant should be your guy this week if you’re looking for a safe start at the CB position.

San Francisco 49ers @  Arizona Cardinals


Jalen Thompson DB, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals come off the bye to play the hottest team in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers. Jalen Thompson is the pick in this one. The Arizona DB is coming off 22 tackles, one sack, and two interceptions in his last three games. He will play a 49ers offense, allowing the most tackles (16.6) per game to the safety position. Kyle Shanhan’s offense has been so unstoppable as of late there should be plenty of opportunities for both Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker to have big games for IDP managers in this one.

Washington Commanders @  Los Angeles Rams


Byron Young DL, Los Angeles Rams

This week, we have another rookie in line for a big performance in the fantasy football playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams rookie EDGE rusher Byron Young has 52 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in his first 13 games of his rookie season. He’s eclipsed 10+ fantasy points in eight of thirteen games this season. He has too good of a matchup to pass up this week with Sam Howell, who comes in with the most QB hits and sacks in the NFL. The Commanders have surrendered ten DL1 weeks this season. Bryon Young is coming off back-to-back double-digit performances. I like him this week to make it three in a row for IDP managers struggling to find DL production.

Dallas Cowboys @  Buffalo Bills


Greg Rousseau DL, Buffalo Bills

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 26: Buffalo Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau (50) reacts after a turnover during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 26, 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The former Miami Hurricane is coming off two straight games with 10+ fantasy points for the first time since week six this season. Greg Rousseau continues to be limited by the system he plays in, which limits his impact on the game. The Buffalo Bills are at the top of the league in defensive line rotations.

The Bills and Cowboys rivalry runs deep, going back to the 1990’s Super Bowl years, so we are all excited for this one. This is shaping up to be a very good game, but I’m leaning more towards an offensive shootout than a defensive struggle. Rousseau is limited by snaps, and his tackle ceiling isn’t high enough to earn a confident start. Greg Rousseau has had more than four tackles just once this season, and I don’t anticipate that changing this week. I would look to other options if available this week.

Baltimore Ravens @  Jacksonville Jaguars


Rayshawn Jenkins DB, Jacksonville Jaguars 

Rayshawn Jenkins continues to fly under the radar as one of the more consistent defensive backs in IDP leagues. The Jaguars defensive back has finished with at least 10 fantasy points in nearly 77% of his games this season. He’s on pace to have back-to-back 100 tackle seasons for the first time in his career. The Baltimore Ravens are a good matchup for opposing safeties this season, allowing the second most tackles (209) to the position. The Ravens offense allows an average of 16.1 tackles per game and has allowed an average of 18 tackles per game to the position over their last three games. This is a nice spot in a primetime matchup to get a big performance from one of your defensive backs this week.

Philadelphia Eagles @  Seattle Seahawks 


Kevin Byard DB, Philadelphia Eagles

We will go back to the DB position to close out Week 15 in an exciting matchup on Monday Night Football. Kevin Byard is searching for his seventh consecutive 200+ point season for IDP managers. The veteran DB has only failed to reach the double-digit point mark once since joining the Eagles. On paper, this isn’t a great matchup as the Seahawks allow the 20th most tackles to the safety position. However, I have faith that Kevin Byard will do what he does and turn in a good performance for IDP managers. The Eagles DB has just one game this season in which he failed to record at least five tackles. The Seattle Seahawks have the pass catchers to cause problems for the Eagles secondary, so we can expect a large volume of work for Byard and the rest of the Philadelphia defensive backs.

The Wrap-up

This is a lot of information to take in while we have games on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week, but that’s what we do. We over-prepare and analyze this time of year because we don’t want to cost ourselves a chance to take home a championship over a bad start. The pressure is building, but we are now at the point where we need our best players to show up for us in the biggest games of the year. As always, good luck this week, and I look forward to seeing you all advance to the next round of the playoffs.

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