Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 14: Last-Minute Fantasy Football Roster Advice
Congratulations: If you’re reading this, then the chances are that your fantasy football roster is still relevant this season. Whether you’ve locked up a playoff berth or need to win this week to get in, losing now isn’t particularly an option.
It’s imperative not to let the pressure get to you, though—you’re here for a reason. Sticking with the strategies that got you here is likely what will help you through the playoffs. Numbers should outweigh name value, but not to the point where you’re over-thinking decisions and rolling with Shonn Greene over Adrian Peterson.
If you’ve managed to get this far, it’s not because you were playing Larry Fitzgerald every week—it’s despite the fact that you were playing Fitzgerald every week.
The stakes are higher in the fantasy playoffs, but the game is the same as it is during the regular season: You still want to play the guys who give you your best chance to win.
Start Cam Newton
Cam Newton has enjoyed two massive fantasy performances in the last two games against bad teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, on the road.
His 538 passing yards, five passing touchdowns, 130 rushing yards, two rushing scores and zero interceptions have catapulted him to the No. 6 spot in terms of highest-scoring fantasy QBs (ESPN standard scoring).
Before dismissing those two games as flukes, consider that prior to his Monday Night Football explosion in Week 12, Cam’s road matchup with the Atlanta Falcons—his Week 14 opponent—represented his best game of the year.
He’s done well against teams that don’t stop the run and posted a season-high 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Falcons in Week 4.
Sit Your Baltimore Ravens (Except Ray Rice)
In six road games this season, Joe Flacco has thrown for one touchdown four times and none the other two. He has managed to avoid turning the ball over in his last three road games but still didn’t put up enough yards (224 passing yards per game and two total passing TDs over his last three).
The Washington Redskins aren’t exactly dominating opposing offenses, but Flacco’s road woes speak for themselves. Counting on anyone associated with the Baltimore Ravens outside of Ray Rice this week is incredibly risky.
Even the defense could be in for a long day against the Redskins offense, which is spearheaded by Robert Griffin III and his nine passing touchdowns in the last three weeks.
Start Bryce Brown and DeMarco Murray
In just two starts (and limited work otherwise), Philadelphia Eagles rookie rusher Bryce Brown has equaled Dallas Cowboys sophomore DeMarco Murray’s season fantasy point total. They’re both good starts in Week 14.
Brown has gained over 180 total yards and two touchdowns in each of his last two matchups.
Those were against the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, who aren’t exactly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Brown’s Week 14 foe—when it comes to stopping the run. Still, the Bucs have given up three ground scores to RBs in the last three weeks.
Murray took a season-high 23 carries last week in his first game back from an injury that caused him to miss six games. His usage suggests that the Cowboys aren’t afraid to use him—and they’ll require his services against a Cincinnati Bengals squad that has been respectably locking up opposing passing games.
Also Consider Starting
Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans), Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati Bengals), Shonn Greene (New York Jets), Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) and Vick Ballard (Indianapolis Colts)
Sit Michael Turner
Michael Turner is on a three-game touchdown streak but has totaled 146 rushing yards on 40 carries in his last three appearances for the Atlanta Falcons. The last time he saw the Carolina Panthers (in Atlanta, Week 4) resulted in the veteran’s best fantasy day of the season—and also his only career receiving touchdown.
The likelihood that that performance recurs is obviously minimal.
It’s further diminished by the presence of Jacquizz Rodgers. Marc Sessler of NFL.com wrote that Rodgers is ready for more touches. If Turner happens to miss the Week 14 game due to an elbow injury, Rodgers would be worth a look in a desperate situation.
Also Consider Sitting
Stevan Ridley (New England Patriots), Reggie Bush (Miami Dolphins), DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) and Montell Owens (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Start Danario Alexander
Danario Alexander continues to impress in the box score. He caught six passes last week for 102 yards, his second 100-yard game in his last five with the San Diego Chargers. On 40 targets, Alexander has caught 26 balls (65 percent catch rate) for 467 yards and three scores.
He’s grabbed at least five passes in each of the last four games and hasn’t gone for fewer than 74 yards since Week 9.
That trend should persist against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will be without cornerback Ike Taylor.
Start T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton has six receptions and 100 or more yards in three of his last five games. He’s also made four visits to the end zone during that time, on 21 total catches for 335 yards. Hilton had no catches in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars (Thursday Night Football) but received two carries in that contest.
He gained 30 yards.
The Indianapolis Colts wideout will have a good matchup in Week 14 against the Tennessee Titans, who have allowed six touchdowns to the position in their last four games.
Sit Steve Smith
Steve Smith had his most productive game of the season last week, finally combining one of his four 100-yard efforts with a touchdown at Kansas City.
The chances that he repeats that performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14 are slim.
Despite facing the likes of Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald, Atlanta has not allowed a receiving touchdown to a wideout since Week 10.
Cam Newton doesn’t have to zero in on Smith to have a successful fantasy day against the Falcons; Smith caught three balls for 52 yards in the Carolina Panthers’ first meeting with Atlanta.
Start Kyle Rudolph, Martellus Bennett and Jermichael Finley
Kyle Rudolph has awakened from his fantasy slumber coinciding with Percy Harvin’s absence from the Minnesota Vikings lineup, scoring a touchdown in each of his last three games, with at least five catches apiece.
His Week 14 foe, the Chicago Bears, has been great against fantasy TEs as a whole this year—but they’ve allowed two scores in the last three games to the position.
Martellus Bennett scored his first touchdown since the replacement officials were in uniform last week against the Washington Redskins. He’ll face the New Orleans Saints this time around. New Orleans has surrendered four TDs to TEs in its last four outings.
If you can trust Jermichael Finley to not drop the ball in Week 14, he should have opportunities to make noise for your fantasy lineup against the Detroit Lions. Detroit has allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end in each of its last four games.
Sit Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates
In his last seven games, Vernon Davis has had exactly one performance that would raise eyebrows from a fantasy perspective. He was blanked twice and totaled 116 yards on 11 catches in the other four.
The only statistical saving grace for Davis this week is that his good game (six catches for 83 yards and a score against the Chicago Bears in Week 11) was the last time that the San Francisco 49ers played at home.
Antonio Gates could pull a Brandon Myers on us and statistically wreck the defense that is most stingy to his position in fantasy football, but he just hasn’t been as good as Myers this year. You can pencil Gates in for two catches and 13 yards—which is better than Vernon Davis’ zero-catch days—but it’s not good enough to trust him against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14.
Start the Seattle Seahawks D/ST
It really doesn’t matter who the Arizona Cardinals start at quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks. The mere fact that John Skelton was benched for Ryan Lindley—who subsequently threw five interceptions and zero touchdowns in three games—for performance reasons means that the Seahawks should feast on Arizona’s passer.
Skelton is the guy who’ll get the keys to the offense this week, but he does not have a good matchup. Seattle will be at home, where it has been a nightmare for opposing fantasy passing games.
Start the Cleveland Browns D/ST
The Cleveland Browns forced eight turnovers in their last home game (against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12). Their Week 14 opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, scored a season-high 27 points at home last week but combined for 28 in the three games prior to that.
They haven’t scored more than 13 points on the road since putting up 27 on the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.
Sit the Monday-Night Defenses
Monday Night Football has the fantasy star power that will decide countless matchups, as the Houston Texans travel to Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots. Each team’s fantasy D/ST is a top-five scoring unit on the season, but the Patriots and Texans are the worst two matchups for opposing fantasy D/STs.
New England is the only team in the NFL that forces its opponents into an average score of negative (1.3) fantasy points.
Houston’s opponents’ D/ST units average just 2.2.
The Baltimore Ravens have allowed double-digit fantasy performances to kickers in six of their 12 games this year. Kai Forbath of the Washington Redskins is a widely available option that can contribute 10-plus points to your lineup this week. He hasn’t missed a field goal all season.
Other Suggested Starts
Matt Bryant (Atlanta Falcons) and Connor Barth (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Greg Zuerlein, conversely, has not had a perfect field-goal-kicking game for the St. Louis Rams since Week 7. That was also the last time that he scored in double figures.
For more fantasy football advice, follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @StatManJ
Good luck this week!