Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 14: Making the Call on Fantasy Football Fringe Starters

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 6, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 3: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers passes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 3, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The 49ers defeated the Bears 15-14. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

It's Week 14 of the NFL season, which signals the beginning of the fantasy football playoffs for many leagues.

If you made the playoffs, then congratulations and good luck.

However, if you're like me and missed the postseason because you dropped the suddenly scorching-hot Josh McCown a month ago for two quarterbacks who were eventually benched, then (like me) you probably got what you deserved.

It's important to avoid decisions like that on the waiver wire. At this juncture of the 2017 campaign, one simple move could be the key to your success (or failure).

Looking ahead, here are some notes on a few players to consider starting or sitting this week based off their matchups.


Start 'Em: San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and WR Marquise Goodwin vs. Houston Texans

Although this year's version of the Chicago Bears won't be confused with the 1985 "Super Bowl Shuffle" team, the 2017 Monsters of the Midway still have a good defense that is ranked in the top half of the league, per Football Outsiders.

However, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did well against them in his first start in red and gold last Sunday, throwing for 293 yards and leading his team to a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

Ninety-nine of those yards went to wideout Marquise Goodwin, who went a perfect eight-of-eight on targets.

There are enough hot takes on the Internet and television to last a lifetime, so apologies for providing this one: Goodwin is a future star who will be known for racking up long touchdown after long touchdown by this time next season.

He's a track star whose speed is a serious problem for any defensive back in the league, and Garoppolo and him already have a clear rapport that showed in a tough matchup at Soldier Field.

Their game this Sunday looks easier on paper against the Houston Texans in NRG Stadium. Houston is 30th in the league in yards allowed per pass attempt and has given up some big games to wideouts this year. Notably, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton hauled in five catches for 175 yards and two scores.

Like Hilton, Goodwin is a fast wideout who can take the top off defenses. Look for him and Garoppolo to have breakout games on Sunday.


Sit 'Em: Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins at Los Angeles Chargers

The 'Skins aren't the same offense without running back Chris Thompson in the mix. Ever since Thompson suffered a season-ending broken fibula against the New Orleans Saints, Washington's offense has struggled.

It scored just 10 points through 56 minutes against the now 2-10 New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day before pulling away with a 20-10 win. Against Dallas in its next game, Washington only managed to put up 14 as Cousins threw two interceptions while the team only rushed for 56 yards.

Washington's Week 14 opponent (the Los Angeles Chargers) are steam-rolling through teams right now, as they have won six of their last eight games to move to a first-place tie with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

The Bolts can give the 'Skins offense fits. Edge-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have 20 total sacks, and the team also have 15 interceptions. Overall, Football Outsiders ranks the Bolts seventh in pass defense.

Ultimately, this is just a bad matchup on paper for Cousins, and he should only be an option in deep or two-quarterback leagues.


Start 'Em: Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard vs. Chicago Bears

This is contingent on the status of Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who is in the concussion protocol. If Mixon can't go, Giovani Bernard should be the Bengals' No. 1 back for Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

A date with Chicago isn't an easy matchup for any running back, but Bernard is an adept pass-catcher who has surpassed the century mark in receiving yards twice in his career.

He also impressed in Mixon's stead against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, as he rushed for 77 yards on just 13 carries. Bernard's speed and ability to cut on a dime showed, and those same traits could occur again versus the Bears.

We could also be seeing a lot of passes to the backfield in this contest to better utilize Bernard's strengths, which is a big bonus in points-per-reception leagues.


Sit 'Em: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber vs. Detroit Lions

The former Auburn Tiger impressed last Sunday with 143 yards from scrimmage against the Green Bay Packers, but the problem is that the game flow this week against the Detroit Lions may not go his way.

The Lions have a stout passing attack led by quarterback Matt Stafford, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allow 7.9 yards per attempt, which is second-worst in the NFL.

It's possible that Stafford misses this game after suffering a bruised hand against the Baltimore Ravens last week, but X-rays were negative, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

If Stafford plays, he and the Lions could be up big before long, forcing the Bucs to move to the pass game primarily. That could limit Barber's touches significantly, so he may be a risk to roster this week.