Start Em Sit Em Week 14: Fantasy Advice for Stars Facing Challenging Matchups

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2012

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 18:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts after a play against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 30-23.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

You know the NFL has been turned on its head when San Diego Chargers star Philip Rivers is owned in fewer than 84 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues. 

Once considered to be among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, it's only taken Rivers a few weeks to fall out of the sky and into the dumps. But, that's fantasy football, where the question, "what have you done for me lately?" is taken to an entirely different level.

With the struggling Rivers set to take on the NFL's No. 1-ranked secondary in Pittsburgh this Sunday, he's an obvious sit. But what about some other fantasy stars with a lot on their plate this weekend?

Here we'll break down four fantasy stars facing challenging matchups in Week 14, and recommend whether you start 'em, or sit 'em. 


Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, WR

Since Arizona's Week 10 bye, Larry Fitzgerald has looked like a shell of himself, catching a total of just five passes for 65 yards in the Cardinals' last three losses. 

On Sunday afternoon, he and the Cards will be pitted against the Seattle Seahawks inside CenturyLink Field, where rarely does an opposing wideout find success. Seattle ranks fifth in the league defending the pass, and has surrendered just 12 total touchdowns through the air in 12 games. Therefore, fantasy owners would be wise to bench Fitzgerald this weekend.

He may be a superstar who's owned in 100 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues, but the bottom line is that Fitzgerald hasn't caught a touchdown pass since Week 9 and hasn't surpassed 100 yards receiving in a game since Week 3. 

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Sit


Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, RB

Baltimore Ravens versatile running back Ray Rice will be up against a stiff challenge in Week 14 when his team takes the short ride from Baltimore to Landover to take on RG3 and the surging 'Skins. Washington has won three in a row and also boasts the NFL's fourth-ranked rush defense.

Although Rice hasn't surpassed 100 yards rushing in a game since Week 5 at Kansas City, he's always a threat as a receiver. Plus, he torched Pittsburgh's vaunted rush defense to the tune of 78 yards and a score on just 12 carries in Week 13. 

All signs point to owners starting Rice this weekend, and for good reason.

Rushing yards won't come easy for him against Washington's front seven, but when things break down for Joe Flacco in the pocket, it seems Rice never fails to make something out of nothing. 

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Start


Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins, RB

Like Ray Rice, Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush is a versatile offensive weapon. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Bush will be up against one of the top all-around defenses in football in Week 14 in the San Francisco 49ers. 

The Niners rank third against the run and second against the pass in 2012, which suggests Bush and the Fins will be in for a long day at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco is only allowing 3.6 yards per carry this season, and just 189 passing yards per week. Bush has yet to face a defense this stout and well-rounded, and therefore the smartest move to make prior to kickoff on Sunday would be to bench the veteran back. 

Plus, fantasy owners can do it without worry knowing that Bush hasn't rushed for over 100 yards in a game since Week 2 and has just one rushing touchdown in his last four games. 

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Sit


Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, QB

Some fantasy owners are still kicking themselves for starting Matt Ryan against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. The league's third-ranked pass defense picked Matty Ice apart inside the Georgia Dome, forcing five interceptions and holding Ryan to zero touchdowns.

So, what does that have to do with with Week 14?

On Sunday, Ryan and the Falcons will take on their toughest opponent since Arizona in terms of pass defense. The Carolina Panthers rank seventh in the league defending the pass, and are giving up fewer than 220 yards through the air per week.

Also, the Panthers have allowed fewer passing touchdowns than 22 other NFL teams this season. Of course Ryan did have a monster day against Carolina inside the Georgia Dome back in Week 4, throwing for nearly 370 yards and three scores, but that was over two months ago.

It's natural for fantasy owners to approach this matchup with hesitation, but in the end, starting Matty Ice in Week 14 is the smartest decision one can make. 

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Start


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