Start Em Sit Em Week 14: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers & More
As the Fantasy Football season winds down the start 'em, sit 'em matchups become tougher to decipher.
For one, where games are played becomes a factor simply because of the potential weather conditions.
A stud running back such as Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns; however, is even more appealing right now. Cleveland not only rides a two-game winning streak, but the Browns host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14.
Defending the run is just one vulnerability of KC's front seven, and Richardson on the ground happens to be Cleveland's offensive strength.
To that end, we'll check out Richardson later but first, let's see what else fantasy football has in store this weekend.
Favorable Matchup: Dustin Keller, TE (Jets) at Jaguars
Update on Friday, December 7
In a week when Sanchez is trying to rebound, he will almost certainly be without his favorite target. Dustin Keller (ankle) is listed as doubtful, meaning Jeff Cumberland will start for the Jets.
End of Update
Dustin Keller's 2012 season has been disappointing to say the least.
Then again, that's how the season has unfolded for the New York Jets despite a 5-7 record: Which could be much worse.
Keller, though, is still second on the team in yards (317), receptions (28) and touchdowns (two).
Fortunately, Keller gets a cake defense this week in the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags lack a pass rush and run defense, so New York will be able to set up play-action.
Unsurprisingly, Jacksonville is also suspect in pass defense by allowing 63.6 completion percentage.
Favorable Matchup: Lance Moore, WR (Saints) at Giants
The New Orleans Saints are one team where the weather conditions are irrelevant.
And that's obviously due to Drew Brees being the offense's best chance to move the rock.
As a result, receiver Lance Moore continues to be a solid fantasy option. With 822 yards on 52 receptions and four scores, Moore is New Orleans' big play deep threat.
In Week 14, Moore lines up against the New York Giants who rank No. 22 against the pass and allows a 63.1 completion percentage. Plus, Brees is coming off a dismal performance and looking to rebound.
So, expect the Saints to thwart downfield as usual. Moore can beat anyone in single coverage and New York is vulnerable with its pass rush being inconsistent this season.
Favorable Matchup: Jermichael Finley, TE (Packers) vs. Lions
Much like any Saints receiver, it's not easy choosing one from the Green Bay Packers since Aaron Rodgers spreads the field so well.
That said, tight end Jermichael Finley squares off against the Detroit Lions who have already allowed 21 passing touchdowns.
Not to mention, in the previous contest Finley caught three balls for 66 yards and one score. Even better, Finley has accounted for 111 yards on nine receptions that previous two weeks.
Therefore, it's obvious Rodgers is looking to target his tight end a bit more.
The Lions continue to struggle with pass defense also, because rookie quarterback Andrew Luck diced them for 391 yards and four touchdowns (three picks).
In short, expect a solid outing from Finley and potentially inflated numbers provided the ground game works to set up play-action.
Sleeper: Kendall Wright, WR (Titans) at Colts
Kendall Wright of the Tennessee Titans has played rather consistently in 2012, but that breakout performance remains to be seen.
Still, Wright enters the Week 14 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts coming off arguably his best game.
Although Wright gained only 78 yards in Week 13, it was his most of the season. Additionally, one of his best games came vs. Indy in Week 8—four catches for 47 yards and one score.
This time around expect more.
The Colts are still weak against the pass, as they allow a 62.0 completion percentage and have recorded only six interceptions. Also, Indy lacking a dominant pass rush will give Wright more time to develop routes and earn extra targets.
Interestingly enough, he does lead Tennessee with 213 yards after the catch.
Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, TE (Vikings) vs. Bears
For the Minnesota Vikings to upset the Chicago Bears, tight end Kyle Rudolph needs a big game.
After all, he is Christian Ponder's favorite red zone target as Rudolph leads the team with eight receiving scores.
The passing game unfortunately, though, is not the Vikings' strength. On the bright side, the ground game threat of Adrian Peterson will still set up the play-action and Chicago is vulnerable in coverage.
Now yes, the Bears rank No. 7 against the pass and have forced an abundance of turnovers. However, a strong running game has proven to keep Chicago honest as we saw from the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
With Peterson dominating in the trenches, Rudolph will produce downfield. Then again, he did catch five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown in the first go-round against Chicago.
Sleeper: Mikel Leshoure, RB (Lions) at Packers
The Green Bay Packers continue to struggle in the trenches.
Giving up 4.5 yards per rush, Green Bay must get healthier on defense for any chance to slow opposing running backs down.
On the contrary, the Detroit Lions have to run the ball more if they want to knock out some victories. Going to Lambeau in December won't be easy, but Mikel Leshoure possesses the size and explosiveness to slam the Packers at the line of scrimmage.
Leshoure may only average 3.7 per rush, although he does have seven rushing scores and has totaled 591 rushing yards. Detroit also needs Leshoure to impact for the Lions to pull the upset.
Running the ball simply keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field and shortens the game. And courtesy of Detroit's passing game, Green Bay won't load the box to stop the run. Regardless, though, Leshoure will be effective in Week 14 when given opportunities.
Dud: Philip Rivers, QB (Chargers) at Steelers
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers continue to frustrate, period.
And don't expect Week 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers to be any different.
For starters, the red zone efficiency remains an issue and Rivers has just one measly touchdown pass in his past two games. Even worse are only two 300-plus yards performances on the year mixed in with countless turnovers.
Pittsburgh on the flip side, has significantly improved through each week in 2012. And, even though the Steelers haven't forced an extensive amount of turnovers they lockdown in coverage and stuff the run.
Here, Pittsburgh also gets strong pressure on Rivers as the Chargers lack in pass protection.
Dud: Reggie Bush, RB (Dolphins) at 49ers
Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins is having a nice year with 915 total yards and seven touchdowns.
Too bad Bush and the 'Fins take on the San Francisco 49ers this week.
Fielding arguably the NFL's best defense across the spectrum, San Francisco ranks No. 2 against the pass, No. 3 against the run and allows only 279.6 total yards per game.
Miami simply doesn't present the offensive prowess to push the pace and control the tempo. The passing game remains inconsistent at best and that ineffectiveness has seeped into the rushing attack.
Plus, stifling the run is San Francisco's primary defensive objective and the 49ers will also suffocate in coverage. Therefore, don't anticipate much from Bush or anyone on Miami's offense in the Bay Area.
Dud: Baltimore Ravens Defense (at Washington Redskins)
For as shocking as this appears, the Baltimore Ravens defense has significantly underachieved in 2012 even when healthier early on.
And despite improving since then, Baltimore has yet to totally dominate an inferior opponent.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs confirmed Monday night that he has a torn right biceps, but emphasized he is seeking a second opinion on the extent of the injury.
When asked if he would be able to play Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Suggs told The Baltimore Sun, "We'll see, maybe. Maybe not."
Facing Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins this week, the Ravens have a whole set of problems pertaining to the matchup alone. RG3's dual-threat is capable of taking over from the start and his receiving corps can defeat man coverage.
Factor in running back Alfred Morris and Washington can also get physical with Baltimore as well.
Stud: Seattle Seahawks Defense (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
The Seattle Seahawks keep playing ball control on offense and excellent defense.
As a result, Seattle sits at 7-5 and remains in the NFC playoff picture.
The Arizona Cardinals are literally Seattle's polar opposite.
Arizona lacks a consistent rushing attack and its passing game is virtually non-existent. Since beginning 4-0, the Cardinals have dropped eight consecutive and have the NFL's worst pass-protection.
Therefore, we can easily expect the Seahawks to apply a sick amount of quarterback pressure.
Entering the contest with 30 sacks and only allowing a 59.4 completion percentage, Seattle will completely shutdown Arizona's offense. Considering that the Card's have already given up 48 sacks, this game will get ugly fast.
Other than needing to double-team Larry Fitzgerald, the Seahawks can man up elsewhere, which then allows the front seven to control the line of scrimmage.
Stud: Josh Freeman, QB (Buccaneers) vs. Eagles
Pick anyone from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense for Week 14 and all are going to play well.
Hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Tampa Bay's balanced attack will move the ball consistently.
Philadelphia's defense has been immensely underachieving in 2012 and the Bucs offense is quite the contrast. Running back Doug Martin's ability to crush between the tackles and bulldoze for yards after contact is a competitive advantage.
In turn, Josh Freeman sets up the play-action and launches downfield to Vincent Jackson on numerous occasions. And if the Eagles' pass rush does decide to make an appearance, Freeman's mobility will pay off along with his strong arm to make tough throws.
The Eagles simply give up way too many big plays against the pass with blown coverages, so expect the Bucs to eviscerate Philly.
Stud: Trent Richardson, RB (Browns) vs. Chiefs
The Cleveland Browns are emitting more confidence now than arguably ever before in the 21st century.
Welcoming the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14, Cleveland can rightfully be expected to win the line of scrimmage battle throughout.
Kansas City allows 4.7 yards per carry and 129 rushing yards per game, so Richardson will get his numbered called early and often. He is also Cleveland's main offensive weapon by accounting for 1,166 total yards and eight touchdowns.
The Browns are just finding a stride right now, because the offense features better balance than given credit. In addition, Brandon Weeden's capabilities in the passing game will prevent KC from stacking the box, which only takes pressure away from Richardson on the ground.
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