Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Toughest Receiver Matchups of Week 14
Fantasy football receivers become a tougher start-or-sit decision as December rolls onward, because matchups and weather conditions combine.
So, along with taking into account a strong defense and potentially bad weather—something to just keep in mind and be aware of—how much could one passing game get shut down?
Well, a lot depends on a receivers' opportunities to make plays downfield. Take Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, for example.
The Panthers are hosting in Week 14 the Atlanta Falcons, who field a strong secondary. Led by Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta was able to minimize Smith to only 52 yards in the first meeting. And that was indoors in September.
Although weather may not have a drastic impact on this Sunday's game, anything can happen outside in December. That said, let's move ahead to check out Smith and other rough receiver matchups of Week 14.
Steve Smith, Panthers (vs. Falcons)
At age 33 Steve Smith is still getting the job done.
With 890 receiving yards on 53 receptions this season, Smith's big-play potential remains a concern for any defense.
Well, the Atlanta Falcons may give up 231 yards passing a game, but the Dirty Birds have also only allowed 11 passing touchdowns. In short, Atlanta is quite opportunistic and Cam Newton needs to be on target for 60 minutes if Carolina is to win.
That said, Smith typically enjoys a solid game against the Falcons regardless of who is under center. What he needs are more chances to thwart Atlanta, because the Panthers must be able to keep pace with Matt Ryan and Co.
In other words, Carolina's defense isn't going to slow down the Dirty Birds. Therefore, anticipate plenty of targets for Smith as he has the past few games.
Start Steve Smith
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (at Browns)
Dwayne Bowe and the Kansas City Chiefs were simply impressive in Week 13, because just having the focus to compete in unfathomable circumstances warrants applause.
And in getting the win over Carolina, Bowe caught four passes for 64 yards. He now has 731 yards receiving on 57 receptions this season.
In Week 14, Bowe and K.C. travel to play the Cleveland Browns, who ride a two-game win streak.
Regarding fantasy football implications, Bowe's production will be predicated from the Chiefs' pass protection. Despite Cleveland allowing a 62.4 completion percentage, the Browns have recorded 14 picks and 29 sacks thus far.
As a result, K.C.'s best option to move the ball is on the ground with Jamaal Charles. Not to mention, Cleveland presents solid secondary players in Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown. So combine that with the Chiefs turnovers issues and that means Bowe's contributions will be limited.
Sit Dwayne Bowe
Malcom Floyd, Chargers (at Steelers)
Entering the 2012 season it was expected that Malcom Floyd earn more targets from Philip Rivers.
With Vincent Jackson out of the picture, the San Diego Chargers needed some guys to step up and take on a stronger role.
Floyd has fared well in 2012, as he leads the Bolts in receiving yards (765), targets (74), receptions (51) and touchdowns (four). Unfortunately, these efforts have only done so much as San Diego sits at 4-8.
Even worse, the Bolts hit the road and face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14.
Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 in pass defense, allows a mere 55.2 completion percentage and has given up just 13 passing touchdowns. The Steelers are too well-versed in coverage and Rivers being turnover-prone in 2012 doesn't help Floyd's impact on Sunday.
Sit Malcom Floyd
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (at Seahawks)
Since beginning 4-0, the 2012 season could not have gotten any worse for Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals.
December doesn't continue to be any easier either, as the Cardinals travel to the Seattle Seahawks.
For one, Seattle fields one of the NFL's better defenses. Secondly, the Seahawks kept Fitzgerald in check with just 63 yards on four catches way back in Week 1.
Cornerback Brandon Browner will begin a four-game suspension this week for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension was announced early Wednesday afternoon. He will miss Seattle's final four regular-season games, but will be eligible to return for the postseason.
So, Week 14 just got a little more potential for Fitzgerald to produce. If anything, only big plays will occur because his leaping ability will outjump anyone on the field.
Also, provided Arizona refuses to abandon the ground game and Fitzgerald's numbers will slightly inflate.
Start Larry Fitzgerald
Brian Hartline, Dolphins (at 49ers)
The Miami Dolphins have been an interesting team in 2012.
Despite having losses to New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, Miami has logged victories over the Cincinnati Bengals, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
In the midst of a roller-coaster season; however, receiver Brian Hartline has caught 60 passes for 891 yards. For as reliable as that production has been for Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins play at the San Francisco 49ers this week.
San Francisco fields arguably the NFL's best defense, as it gives up only 14.3 points per game. Include a strong pass rush, lockdown coverage and dominance against the run, and Miami won't see much success offensively.
The Dolphins present a bit of balance, although they are not explosive enough to get San Francisco on its heels early. In turn, Hartline's total fantasy impact will be significantly restricted as the 'Niners control the line of scrimmage.
Sit Brian Hartline
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