Fantasy Football Week 14: Start 'Em Sit 'Em
It's fantasy football week 14 and the playoff matchups are upon us. Unless you were fortunate enough to have a bye in the first round, you are looking for starting that key wide receiver or running back that will take you to the next level.
Last week, Dwayne Bowe laid an egg and Greg Jennings went off. Marshawn Lynch emerged out of thin air and Chris Johnson disappeared for the second straight week.
So in case you don't want another goose egg, here are the start em' sit em picks for week 14:
Quarterback Start 'Em
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Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears:
While his pass attempts are way down this season, Jay Cutler has definitely improved his efficiency and lowered his interception totals. Over the past two weeks, Cutler has averaged 240 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns against the Lions and the Eagles.
Cutler gets a match up this week against the 31st ranked Patriots pass defense, which relinquishes 276.8 passing yards per game. Additionally, the New England offense will likely score early, as they did against the New York Jets, forcing Chicago to move the ball through the air and lengthen the game.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens:
Over his last seven games, Joe Flacco has taken his game to the next level. During this stretch, Flacco has compiled 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions while passing for fewer than 250 yards just once.
This week, Flacco will be playing a Texans secondary that has truly struggled this season. Houston is dead last in passing yards allowed in the NFL with 287 per game. Flacco should have a big game, one in the neighborhood of 300 yards passing and two or possibly three touchdowns.
Quarterback Sit 'Em
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Not that McNabb was impressing much in the first place, but lately he has been particularly bad. In his last four games, McNabb has had seven interceptions. While he usually makes up for this somewhat with big yardage statistics, his match up this week poses a problem.
The Redskins will face the Tampa Buccaneers, a team ranked seventh against the pass, who limited Matt Ryan last week to just 205 passing yards. The Redskins will try to move the ball on the ground against the Bucs defense, which has been far worse against the run.
Palmer is another quarterback who has disappointed fantasy owners this season with a 20 to 15 touchdown to interception ratio; this is especially surprising considering the weapons he has had in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens to start the season.
Palmer faces a tough Steelers defense this week. In 12 games as a starter against Pittsburgh, Palmer has averaged just 190 passing yards and 1.3 touchdowns. If you are making a tough choice between Palmer and another third-tier quarterback like Sam Bradford or Jon Kitna, steer clear from Palmer this week.
Running Back Start 'Em
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Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos:
Moreno should continue his run of four straight strong fantasy outings this week against the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is 30th in the NFL against the run this year, giving up nearly 150 yards on the ground per game this season. Moreno could also benefit from the departure of Josh McDaniels, who ran a pass-happy offense in which Moreno generally saw only 10-15 touches on the ground per game.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills:
Fred Jackson laid a big egg last week with just 48 total yards and no touchdowns after three straight big fantasy weeks that saw him score at least once and compile over 125 total yards.
This week, however, Jackson should respond in a big way. The Cleveland rushing defense is 20th in the NFL, so moving the ball on the ground shouldn't be a problem. As it is with most December games in Buffalo, there is an 80 percent chance of snow on Sunday, which could make visibility a problem. Both teams will likely keep the ball on the ground, leading to more carries for Jackson.
Running Back Sit 'Em
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Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins:
The former No. 2 overall pick just hasn't gotten it together this season, despite being fully healthy for most of it. What is really scary about Brown this season has been his yards per carry. Over the last four weeks, Brown has not exceeded a yards per carry average of 3.5 despite seeing his fair share of the workload.
This week, Miami faces the New York Jets. Aside from the fact that the Jets are one of the best teams in the game against the run, Brown had just 53 yards from scrimmage in the first meeting between Miami and New York.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals:
Rule number one of fantasy football this season: do not start a running back against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Benson is no exception to the rule. While Benson was able to find the end zone against the Steelers earlier this year, there is no guarantee he does it again, and without a score, Benson is just not a big threat this week.
Wide Receiver Start 'Em
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Terrell Owens, Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals play the Steelers this week. Pittsburgh's passing defense isn't nearly as good as its run defense. Owens had one of his best games of the season earlier this year against Pittsburgh when he torched the secondary for 141 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Despite the fact that the Bengals are terrible, Owens is always ready to grab some personal glory and this week will be an opportunity to exceed 1000 yards receiving in a season for the tenth time in his career.
Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings:
It has taken a long time, but Sidney Rice is finally back. After two poor games to start his 2010 season, Rice hauled in five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns last week. While we don't know yet which quarterback will be throwing him the ball and the Giants have a strong pass defense, Rice should provide a good option given that Percy Harvin is doubtful, making Rice the primary target in the passing game.
Wide Receiver Sit 'Em
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Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins:
Marshall is still questionable this week against the New York Jets and has been limited in practice this week with an injured hamstring. As a game-time decision, Marshall's production this season just isn't enough to warrant risking him not playing. Even if he does play, he will have super-cornerback Darrelle Revis guarding him this week.
Mario Manningham, New York Giants:
Manningham has only seven receptions in the last three weeks despite the fact that New York starters Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith have been out with injuries. Also, the Giants play a good Minnesota pass defense this week, which should limit total passing yardage. Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith should be back in the lineup at least to some extent this week, making Manningham a poor start.
Tight End Start 'Em
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Ben Watson, Cleveland Browns:
Watson had his biggest game of the season last week with ten receptions for 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Against Buffalo this week, Watson should have yet another big game. The Bills are giving up the second most fantasy points to tight ends this season. With snow in Buffalo this week, the Browns will focus on short passes, making Watson an even more attractive option.
Tight End Sit 'Em
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Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota Vikings:
Shiancoe just hasn't been the same red zone target he was last year for the Vikings. While he accumulated 11 touchdowns over the course of last season, Shiancoe has just two this year. Against a Buffalo defense that does not cover the tight end well, Shiancoe only had two receptions for 17 yards last week. Facing a much tougher New York Giants defense this week with questions at the quarterback position for the Vikings, Shiancoe is a tight end you should steer clear of.
Defense Start 'Em
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Green Bay Packers:
The Packers have a great match up this week against the Detroit Lions. Over the last five games, Green Bay has given up an average of less than ten points a game, including a three week stretch when opponents scored once per game or not at all.
Specifically, the match up against Detroit is especially favorable. In week 4 against the Lions, the Packers defense had a big game with four sacks, a fumble recovery, two interceptions, and one defensive touchdown by Charles Woodson.
The Packers have a good chance at a repeat performance, since all the Green Bay players know how important this week is to playoff hopes.
Defense Sit 'Em
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St. Louis Rams:
Just as there is a general rule to not start running backs against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, do not start a defense going up against the New Orleans Saints. The Rams defense has been much improved this season, and last week they allowed just six points to the Arizona Cardinals.
But let's not get carried away. The Cardinals are not the Saints and Derek Anderson is not even in the same stratosphere as Drew Brees. The Saints are getting healthy with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush fully back from injury. There is just no way to frame it as a good situation for the Rams defense. The Saints will score early and often in this game.
Kicker Start 'Em
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Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints:
See previous slide for offensive reasons. Hartley is 5-5 in his last two games, including three field goals of 40 or more yards. Against the Rams this week, Hartley should provide some solid points.
Kicker Sit 'Em
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Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a good match up this week against the Arizona Cardinals, but Prater is listed as questionable with a groin injury. Look, it's fantasy playoff time and Prater is just a kicker. Just go ahead and sub in a different kicker even if the potential isn't as high. Take the safe points because it is just not worth it to take a zero in the kicker category if Prater doesn't play.