Week 14 of the 2013 NFL regular season is also the first week of the fantasy football playoffs for most leagues, and it’s imperative that owners decipher which start ‘em, sit ‘em sleepers they must get into their starting lineups.
All of the following players are likely sitting on your bench, but with the chance to advance to the second round, starting each of these studs as a possible flex this week would result in a huge fantasy victory.
You’ll thank me later.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been terrible for most of the year, but a late-season surge as the team plays for pride has resulted in wide receiver Cecil Shorts III becoming a viable No. 2 wide receiver in fantasy football.
Shorts has been targeted at least 10 times in nine of 11 games this season and has at least six catches in seven of those matchups. Overall, he has amassed an impressive 64 receptions and 764 yards on the season and scored his second touchdown in Week 13.
It’s time to take the educated risk and make Shorts your flex play.
Shorts and the Jaguars square off Thursday night against the Houston Texans. While Houston has been tough against the pass all season, Jacksonville’s inability to defensively stop anyone will result in a high-scoring shootout.
Expect Shorts to benefit from the situation with a monster fantasy game.
Predicted Stat Line: eight receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots continue to sneak out close victories, and a big part of the offensive resurgence is the return of dual-threat running back Shane Vereen. With Stevan Ridley finding his way to the bench due to fumbling issues, the starting job is now Vereen’s to lose.
Vereen has received 10 carries in each of his last two games as the team eased him back into the lineup, but he should see a bigger workload as New England takes an early lead on the Cleveland Browns this week.
Browns cornerback Joe Haden will be a coverage nightmare for Tom Brady all day, so expect Vereen’s numbers through the air to be just as impressive. The pass-catching back has caught 28 passes in four games and will continue to be a huge part of the air attack.
Whether your league is PPR or not, the 100-plus yards of total offense and a touchdown will translate to any format. Vereen is a must-start in Week 14.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown; seven receptions for 50 yards and zero touchdowns.
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook came out in Week 1 and racked up seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona, but he has been nothing but disappointing since. A matchup against the Cardinals in Week 14 could be his chance for redemption.
Arizona has given up 79 receptions for 1,042 yards and 14 touchdowns to tight ends in 2013 and is giving up an average of 14.8 fantasy points per game to the position. The window of opportunity is there for a big game and owners must take the gamble.
The Cardinals will be looking to stop Cook after the day he had in Week 1. His height and power will give him the advantage over almost any defender covering him, and his speed will beat any linebacker clean.
Look for the St. Louis offense to target Cook early and often.
Predicted Stat Line: seven receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown.