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Week 14 Fantasy: Start/Sit


The fantasy playoffs are here! If you are lucky enough to be still playing in your league, congratulations. Hopefully our articles and rankings have helped you out this season and can get you a championship if you’re in the playoffs.

 

QUARTERBACK

 

START OF THE WEEK: Tom Brady (vs BAL)

 

Brady owners might be feeling a little concerned about this matchup as the fantasy playoffs get underway; Baltimore has the best defense in the NFL in yards allowed and are second only to the Seahawks in points allowed, and are fresh off shutting down the red-hot Miami Dolphins. Touchdown Tom Brady, though, remains the #1 fantasy quarterback. He’s averaging the most fantasy points per game this season, and the Ravens are more vulnerable through the air than on the ground. Never sit Brady.

 

START: Derek Carr (@ KC)

 

Another matchup people might be unsure about here, as Derek Carr and the Raiders travel to Arrowhead this Thursday night to take on the Chiefs. Carr threw for just 225 yards and one touchdown, and also had two turnovers in Oakland’s first game against Kansas City earlier this season; remember, though, the game was played in terrible weather conditions, as rain hit Oakland hard that Sunday. I expect Carr to be at his best this week in the biggest game of the season for Oakland—and perhaps in the entire NFL.

 

START: Kirk Cousins (@ PHI)

 

Kirk Cousins cooled off in Week 13, as he faced a tough Arizona defense and was missing his top weapon in tight end Jordan Reed. It is unclear if Reed will be back for this week, but what is clear is that the Eagles season is over. Philly gave little effort and showed little resistance versus Andy Dalton last week, and Cousins has typically played well against the Birds. A top-five fantasy quarterback through 14 weeks, Cousins is probably a big reason why you’re in the fantasy playoffs so you can’t bench him now.

 

START: Philip Rivers (@ CAR)

 

San Diego’s veteran quarterback has made some uncharacteristic late-game mistakes this season which have cost the Chargers, and he’s also cost loyal fantasy owners who continue to play him, as he hasn’t scored 20 or more fantasy points in a game since Week 5. However, those who are sticking with him could be rewarded in the fantasy playoffs with four very favorable matchups down the stretch for Rivers, including this week against Carolina.

 

Others: Jameis Winston (vs NO), Joe Flacco (vs OAK)

 

SIT OF THE WEEK: Marcus Mariota (vs DEN)

 

I said that Tom Brady is the best fantasy quarterback in points per game this season—which is true—but Marcus Mariota has actually averaged the most fantasy points in the league since Brady returned from suspension. After a slow start to the season, the second-year quarterback has lit it up for the contending Titans. Still, the Broncos are the toughest matchup for opposing quarterback, as they are allowing just 11.7 fantasy points per game to the position. I would bench Mariota, but no one would blame you for starting your stud quarterback.

 

SIT: Cam Newton (vs SD)

 

Since Week 5, Mariota has basically been what Cam Newton was last year and many thought he would be this year. Instead, Newton is behind Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor and… Blake Bortles… in fantasy points for the season. Last week was the low-point, as he was benched (one play) for a dress-code violation, and the Panthers ended up getting blown out 40-7 in Seattle. Cam’s completed just 14 passes in each of the past three games. He’s not a QB1 this week.

 

SIT: Blake Bortles (vs MIN)

 

Ah, there he is. Blake Bortles. After last week’s loss to Denver, the Jaguars quarterback now has more career pick-sixes (11) than wins (10). That’s a real stat. Garbage time appeal has been there for Bortles, but Minnesota hasn’t been blowing teams out—or winning—in recent weeks. The Vikings still have an elite pass defense, so Bortles should be no where near lineups.

 

SIT: Colin Kaepernick (vs NYJ)

 

Well, Colin Kaepernick can’t play in the snow. The 49ers quarterback was embarrassingly ineffective last week in Chicago with snow coming down, as he passed for just four yards before being benched. Kaepernick is back in the lineup this week, but there’s a decent chance he is benched in any given week.

 

Others: Carson Wentz (vs WAS), Eli Manning (vs DAL)

 

RUNNING BACK

 

START OF THE WEEK: Latavius Murray (@ KC)

 

Those who stuck with Murray through his toe injury have to be pretty happy about it. Since returning, Latavius is averaging 16.2 fantasy points per game and he leads the AFC in touchdowns (11) after scoring twice last week. Although the huge rushing-yard totals haven’t been there, Murray dominates goal line carries and is consistently involved as a pass-catcher. With eight or more fantasy points in every game besides the one he was injured in, Murray is a high-floor RB1 for the fantasy playoffs.

 

START: Tevin Coleman (@ LA)

 

Coleman has fantasy scores of six and four since returning from his hamstring injury, but his big-play potential warrants lineup consideration every week. The Rams have been shredded on the ground in consecutive weeks, and Coleman saw 12 carries in last week’s loss to the Chiefs. My feeling is that second-year back is going to win a lot of leagues this year, so you’re going to want him in your lineup. Pick Coleman up right now if he’s somehow available; he’s got San Francisco next week and New Orleans in Week 17.

 

START: Dion Lewis (vs BAL)

 

The Patriots easily handled the Rams last week, so Lewis didn’t see his touches increase for a third consecutive week. Still, he saw nine touches after seeing eight and 10 in his first two games, so he’s shown a solid floor of eight-to-ten touches which will probably increase this week against Baltimore’s #1 rush defense. Lewis is a solid RB2 in PPR leagues and deserves FLEX consideration in standard leagues.

 

START: Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael (vs SEA)

 

Anyone who reads every week knows that I am a huge fan of Ty Montgomery. The Packers finally gave him some meaningful touches last week as snow fell in Green Bay, and Montgomery seems like he is effective in snowy conditions; the converted wideout rushed six times for a team-high 40 yards, and added two catches for 16 yards. Christine Michael, on the other hand, rushed just nine times for 19 yards. However, he’s taken over James Starks as the lead “running back” and faces the Seahawks this week after they cut him a few weeks ago. With snow possible again in Green Bay, and Michael having some extra motivation, both deserve FLEX consideration.

 

Others: Kenneth Dixon (@ NE), Derrick Henry (vs DEN)

 

SIT OF THE WEEK: LeGarrette Blount (vs BAL)

 

Blount owners have a predicament for the first week of the fantasy playoffs, as the bruising back has been a stud this season, but the Ravens boast the league’s best run defense. You can check out our weekly rankings, where we have Blount as a FLEX play rather than his usual RB1/RB2 play, to see if there is a better option on your team. It’s tough to bench your studs, though, and Blount could easily have a multi-touchdown game.

 

SIT: Jay Ajayi (vs ARI)

 

The second-year back out of Boise State has been great since becoming the starter for the Dolphins, and has yet to score less than seven fantasy points since then, including eight last week against the Ravens in a blowout loss. Ajayi has another tough matchup this week, though, as the Cardinals are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. His talent and volume keeps him as an RB2, but Ajayi isn’t the elite option he looked like for a few weeks.

 

SIT: James Starks (@ GB)

 

Many people probably played Starks in Week 13 after he got 17 carries against the Eagles two weeks ago, but Green Bay finally realized that Montgomery and Michael deserve more work, as Starks saw just four carries for one yard last week. The same can be expected in Week 14 and the rest of the season; Starks can be dropped in 10 and 12-team leagues.

 

SIT: Eagles RBs (vs WAS)

 

I’ve had the Eagles running backs as a Sit quite often this season, and have been right every time except for when Ryan Mathews went off versus Atlanta, and that was because he was dealing with some things (including a toothache) that weren’t public knowledge in the weeks leading up to the game as he barely played. With Mathews expected back this week, there probably won’t be enough touches for him, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, especially with the Eagles having one eye on 2017. Also, 4th-string back Kenjon Barner has often looked like the best runner on the roster. Avoid all these guys.

 

Others: Isaiah Crowell (vs CIN), Tim Hightower (@ TB)

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

START OF THE WEEK: Julian Edelman (vs BAL)

 

With Rob Gronkowski done for the season, Julian Edelman is the focal-point of the New England offense. In games without Gronk, #11 averages two more targets per game than he does with Gronk active. Even with Malcolm Mitchell emerging and Chris Hogan making plays, Edelman is has had at least seven catches in each of the past four games, and hasn’t scored below seven fantasy points since Week 7. The Pats will attack Baltimore through Edelman this Monday night. He’s a top-five play.

 

START: Jordy Nelson (vs SEA)

 

This is an obvious name, but people might see Richard Sherman and the Seahawks on are the schedule and be hesitant about Nelson. Don’t be. Jordy remains an elite play at home with more snow in the forecast. Last week, he caught eight passes for 118 yards and a touchdown at a snowy Lambeau Field. Seattle could let Nelson behind the defense now that Earl Thomas is done for the season.

 

START: Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas (@ TB)

 

I was as surprised as everyone else when the Lions dominated the Saints in New Orleans last week, holding Drew Brees to zero touchdowns and all wide receivers under 75 yards. Tampa Bay has played better defense against wideouts recently, but Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas are special, and the Bucs corners won’t be able to stop them. Another dynamic-duo dominated Tampa Bay earlier this season, as Amari Cooper caught 12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, and Michael Crabtree caught eight passes for 108 yards. Both Cooks and Thomas are top-10 plays.

 

START: Jeremy Maclin (vs OAK)

 

Maclin hurt fantasy owners when he was active for Week 9 and exited the game early after being injured the week before, but that shouldn’t be used against him this week. With four and a half weeks to rest, Maclin should be fresh for the Thursday night matchup with the Raiders. I don’t see Maclin’s former teammate Sean Smith or any other Oakland corner being able to guard him.

 

Others: Steve Smith (@ NE), Donte Moncrief (vs HOU)

 

SIT OF THE WEEK: Brandon Marshall (@ SF)

 

Marshall’s BFF Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer the starter for the Jets, and this time it’s probably for good. Not that Marshall has been good anyway this season (36th best fantasy WR), but he’s shown no chemistry with Bryce Petty; Petty’s favorite target has actually been rookie Robby Anderson out of Temple. Marshall isn’t worth starting even in a good matchup for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.

 

SIT: DeAndre Hopkins (@ IND)

 

We have some really good players on the Sits this week at wideout, but they’ve been huge fantasy disappointments this season. Hopkins has been just slightly better (33rd best fantasy WR) than Marshall this season, and Brock Osweiler deserves much of the blame. Hopkins caught nine passes for 71 yards in the first meeting with the Colts, but most of it was late with Indianapolis playing soft coverage trying to hold the lead. Vontae Davis should give Hopkins trouble again this Sunday.

 

SIT: Kelvin Benjamin (vs SD)

 

Benjamin was held to two catches for 18 yards in last week’s loss in Seattle, and things actually aren’t that much easier in Week 14. The Chargers just held another big wideout in Mike Evans to three catches for 38 yards last week, and Evans has been a top-five receiver this season, compared to Benjamin, who is averaging just 6.1 fantasy points per game since Week 2. Benjamin is barely a FLEX play.

 

SIT: Allen Robinson (vs MIN)

 

I wasn’t high on any of Marshall, Hopkins, or Benjamin coming into the year, but I was probably higher on Robinson than anyone else was (I had him as the 5th overall player on my big board this summer). After putting up an 80/1,400/14 receiving line last season, A-Rob and the Jaguars offense just completely collapsed with the increased expectations. They won’t turn things around against Minnesota.

 

Others: Michael Crabtree (@ KC), Rishard Matthews (vs DEN)

 

TIGHT END

 

START OF THE WEEK: Ladarius Green (@ BUF)

 

Green finally broke out in last week’s win over the Giants, as he caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. The week prior, Green caught two passes for 67 yards, and now will face a Bills team allowing nearly 14 yards per reception to tight ends (the most in the league). Green is a solid TE1 and has as much upside as anyone with Gronkowski done until 2017.

 

START: Greg Olsen (vs SD)

 

Olsen hasn’t topped four fantasy points in any of the past four weeks, but he somehow remains the #1 fantasy tight end for the season. The veteran is simply too good to not have a big game soon, so he needs to be in lineups for the fantasy playoffs despite disappointing his owners down the stretch.

 

START: Vance McDonald (vs NYJ)

 

The good news: McDonald led the team in targets last week, doubling everyone else on the team. The bad news: it was just four targets and he turned them into two catches for nine yards, as the Niners offense completed just five passes on a snowy Chicago afternoon. We have more good news though, because the Jets flat-out decided not to cover Colts tight ends last week, when Dwayne Allen caught three touchdowns in the first half. Maybe they will do it again.

 

START: C.J. Fiedorowicz (@ IND)

 

Fiedorowicz was great in the first meeting with the Colts back in Week 6, as he caught six passes for 85 yards and a touchdown en route to an overtime victory. Brock Osweiler will probably look to his tight end again this week with Vontae Davis occupying DeAndre Hopkins.

 

Others: Cameron Brate (vs NO), Hunter Henry (@ CAR)

 

SIT OF THE WEEK: Martellus Bennett (vs BAL)

 

Bennett was supposed to be an elite option if Rob Gronkowski were to go down, but he’s actually been worse since Gronk’s back injury, with just three total fantasy points over the past three weeks. The Ravens are among the best in the league at defending tight ends, so Bennett is only on the TE1 map because it’s a shallow position and he still carries a lot of upside. It’s just really risky to rely on him if you have other options, especially since he’s still banged up.

 

SIT: Vernon Davis (@ PHI)

 

Jordan Reed’s shoulder injury caused Vernon Davis to step into the starting lineup in a tough spot against the Cardinals last week, and he came out of it with five catches for 47 yards. If Reed is out again this week, Davis has another tough matchup with the Eagles, who despite their struggles, are still checking opposing tight ends.

 

SIT: Dwayne Allen (vs HOU)

 

Fantasy owners might not think twice about starting a guy that scored three touchdowns a week ago, but you should play a guy based on what he will do, not what he’s already done. The Texans are top-five against opposing tight ends for fantasy purposes, including holding Allen to one catch for nine yards in their first meeting. Plus, Allen has always been a touchdown or bust play, and after three scores last week, there’s a good chance of a bust for Week 14.

 

SIT: Dennis Pitta (@ NE)

 

Another guy coming into the fantasy playoffs hot, Pitta caught nine passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns in Week 13 versus Miami. Like Allen, it might not be smart to go with the hot hand. The scores last week were Pitta’s first since 2013. He’s been dealing with hip issues in recent years, but still, Pitta only scored in a game once this season (last week), so he will probably be back in his range of one-to-five fantasy points against the Patriots.

 

Others: Coby Fleener (@ TB), Zach Ertz (vs WAS)

 

DEFENSE

 

START OF THE WEEK: Minnesota Vikings (@ JAC)

 

The #1 fantasy defense versus Blake Bortles? Sounds good to me.

 

START: Detroit Lions (vs CHI)

 

Matt Barkley was actually pretty good in the snow last week, as he passed for 192 yards (compared to just four for his opponent Colin Kaepernick) and his receivers dropped some deep passes in the conditions. The Lions, though, are playing for a lot more than the Bears, as they’re 8-4 and would like to avenge their early-October loss to Chicago. Detroit’s defense has come on recently; they just held the Saints to 13 points in New Orleans last Sunday.

 

START: Cincinnati Bengals (@ CLE)

 

I could see the Browns having some tricks up their sleeve coming off the bye week and “needing” a win, but with opposing defenses averaging more than 20 fantast points per game in the last three games versus Cleveland, the Bengals are a solid starting option for Week 14. Robert Griffin III should be rusty if he gets the start in his first game since Week 1.

 

START: Washington Redskins (@ PHI)

 

As stated, Philly’s season is over. With the Redskins playing for a playoff spot, they should have no problem building up motivation to shut down Carson Wentz and the Eagles. Wentz has six picks in his last three games. Since they Eagles’ 3-0 start, the #2 overall pick has just seven touchdowns and 13 turnovers.

 

Others: Atlanta Falcons (@ LA), Tennessee Titans (vs DEN)

 

SIT OF THE WEEK: Baltimore Ravens (@ NE)

 

The Ravens should stay rostered if possible, as they are an elite defense and have favorable matchups with the Eagles in Week 15 and Bengals in Week 17, but defenses should never be started against the Patriots, especially in Foxboro. Since Tom Brady’s return, fantasy defenses are in the negative against the Patriots. Seriously… Fantasy defenses against the Pats have negative-five points since Week 5.

 

SIT: Seattle Seahawks (@ GB)

 

Fantasy owners who don’t stream probably own the Vikings, Broncos, or Seahawks, but those who have the Seahawks better think about streaming this week. Aaron Rodgers should be able to stay hot even with snow in the forecast again in Green Bay. Plus, Earl Thomas being out is a big downgrade for the Seahawks.

 

SIT: Houston Texans (@ IND)

 

Cornerback Jonathan Joseph (ribs) is a huge loss for the Texans defense, and Jadeveon Clowney’s status is still uncertain after he missed last week’s game. Houston needs all the help they can get if they want to remain atop the AFC South, but Andrew Luck and co. will probably be too much after putting up 41 points in Week 13 on MNF.

 

SIT: Buffalo Bills (vs PIT)

 

Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown will look to repeat what Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, and Crabtree and Cooper did last week against Buffalo (38 points). The Bills are one of the last defenses I would want to start this week, but they are a good add for Week 15-17 against Cleveland, Miami, and the Jets.

 

Others: Oakland Raiders (@ KC), Los Angeles Rams (vs ATL)

 

 

As always, check out of Week 14 rankings for kicker rankings and all your tough lineup decisions.

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