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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 14: Debating Difficult Fantasy Football Lineup Decisions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2017

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Rex Burkhead #34 of the New England Patriots reacts during the first quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The NFL never said fantasy football playoffs would be easy. 

Most standard leagues fire up the postseason in Week 14, and for those still alive, it's one of the tougher weeks of the entire season. 

Not only do owners have a ton at stake while facing an unpredictable slate, players like Joe Mixon are hurt at the worst possible time, and others such as Rob Gronkowski and JuJu Smith-Schuster won't play due to suspensions. 

Get a helping hand below from matchup-based rankings and start-sit analysis for Yahoo standard leagues. 

            

Quarterback

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Tom Brady (at MIA) vs. Jameis Winston (vs. DET)Tom Brady
Derek Carr (at KC) vs. Matthew Stafford (at TB)Derek Carr
Alex Smith (vs. OAK) vs. Jared Goff (vs. PHI)Jared Goff
Case Keenum (at CAR) vs. Philip Rivers (vs. WAS)Philip Rivers
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. BAL) vs. Tyrod Taylor (vs. IND)Tyrod Taylor
Author's opinion

Start: Derek Carr, OAK (at KC) 

Remember Derek Carr? 

It's easy to overlook the Oakland Raiders signal-caller because of how easy it is to stream the position. Yet in Week 14, it's almost fitting he's a strong start option thanks to his situation. 

Carr has a nice baseline floor, with at least 14 points scored in six consecutive games. He's now heading into an AFC West rivalry game against a Kansas City Chiefs team that knows him well—which isn't a bad thing considering he torched these same Chiefs for 30.18 points by way of three passing scores on 52 attempts back in Week 7. 

Maybe Carr doesn't hit the same mark again, but the combo of floor and upside has him looking great.  

      

Sit: Kirk Cousins, WAS (at LAC) 

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 30:  Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins fumbles the ball after a hit by Taco Charlton #97 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 30, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

So goes the scale of streaming at quarterback: Carr up, Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins down. 

Cousins has been reliable this season, scoring 20 or more points six times, including two of his past four outings. The base and floor are there once again heading into Week 14, though the remaining circumstances look miserable. 

For one, Cousins' Redskins have to travel across the country for a game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Those Chargers happen to not only be one of the hottest teams in football, but they allow the fifth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks on average. 

It's simply a bad outlook for a guy who would otherwise help owners when they need it most. 

         

Running Back

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
LeSean McCoy (vs. IND) vs. Lamar Miller (vs. SF)LeSean McCoy
Melvin Gordon (vs. WAS) vs. Rex Burkhead (at MIA)Rex Burkhead
Marshawn Lynch (at KC) vs. Derrick Henry (at ARI)Derrick Henry
Leonard Fournette (vs. SEA) vs. Giovani Bernard (vs. CHI)Leonard Fournette
Le'Veon Bell (vs. BAL) vs. Alex Collins (at PIT)Le'Veon Bell
Author's opinion

Start: Rex Burkhead, NE (at MIA) 

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 03:  Rex Burkhead #34 of the New England Patriots rolls over Jordan Poyer #21 as he scores a touchdown during the second half at New Era Field on December 3, 2017 in Orchard Park, New York. New England defeats Buffalo 23-3.  (P
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It seems to be the New England Patriots' mission to make life as hard as possible for fantasy owners. 

Bill Belichick likes unpredictability out of the backfield, making what should be a surefire performance by Rex Burkhead look somewhat murky. 

Even so, Burkhead is almost impossible to ignore after finally getting healthy. He's had scores of 12.3, 17.3 and 22.3 points over his last four outings, receiving double-digit carries in three of the four and scoring three rushing touchdowns over his past two. 

Even better, Burkhead next gets the Miami Dolphins, who cough up the eighth-most points to backs. That 17.3 score? It came against the Dolphins as well, so look for a big day.  

            

Sit: Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. PHI) 

It isn't always easy to bench a guy like Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, though he's made it easier than it would normally be because he has a low of three points this week, and as recently as Week 11, he only scored 11.6. 

Still, Gurley is a workhorse with consistent usage. He scored 15.8 points last time out and has hit that mark or higher six total times. 

But realistic owners should expect him to come in lower than that in Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Home game or not, these Eagles allow the second-fewest points to backs this year, making Gurley a wild card at the worst possible time. 

       

Wide Receiver

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. SF) vs. Robby Anderson (at DEN)DeAndre Hopkins
Keenan Allen (vs. WAS) vs. Adam Thielen (at CAR)Keenan Allen
Antonio Brown (vs. BAL) vs. A.J. Green (at CHI)Antonio Brown
T.Y. Hilton (at BUF) vs. Tyreek Hill (vs. OAK)T.Y. Hilton
DeSean Jackson (vs. DET) vs. Alshon Jeffery (at LAR)Alshon Jeffery
Author's opinion

Start: Marvin Jones, DET (at TB) 

Marvin Jones of the Detroit Lions is one of those week-to-week plays who looks headed into a great situation just in time for owners to reap the benefits. 

Jones looks rough on the surface, having only scored nine points his last outing and boasting lows of 2.2 and 5.4 points on his resume, but he's had scores of 22.7 and 22.9 as well. 

Thanks to a game against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense allowing the most points to wideouts on average, Jones' output should lean more toward the bigger numbers. 

Still a consistent usage option thanks to seven or more targets in seven of his last eight games, the matchup and pass-first nature of this one should have owners looking good. 

              

Sit: Jarvis Landry, MIA (vs. NE) 

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26:  Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins reacts during the fourth quarter of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

While a big name, Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry isn't doing much for owners this year. 

Landry only has five double-digit outings to his name, with a shuffling quarterback situation highlighting the fact he isn't making splash plays down the field despite his target-hog usage. 

Landry had 15 targets over his last two games yet didn't score more than seven in each. 

One of those performances came against the Patriots, where he caught eight of nine targets but finished with seven points. Though New England allows the eighth-most points to the position, Landry simply hasn't been consistent enough down the field to make this a must-start situation. 

           

Tight End

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Delanie Walker (at ARI) vs. Hunter Henry (vs. WAS)Hunter Henry
Cameron Brate (vs. DET) vs. Travis Kelce (vs. OAK)Travis Kelce
Evan Engram (vs. DAL) vs. Kyle Rudolph (at CAR)Evan Engram
Ricky Seals-Jones (vs. TEN) vs. Jason Witten (at NYG)Jason Witten
Zach Ertz (at LAR) vs. Eric Ebron (at TB)Zach Ertz
Author's opinion

Start: Hunter Henry, LAC (vs. WAS) 

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is turning it on just in time for fantasy owners, sitting on 8.1 or more points over his past two outings. 

Henry hasn't had the most consistent season this year because of the vast array of targets at Philip Rivers' disposal.

The catch, though, is simple: If we can see a great matchup to exploit, so can the Chargers. Henry is going to be a big matchup problem for a Redskins defense allowing the fourth-most points to tight ends this year.

         

Sit: Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (vs. TEN) 

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 03:  Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones #86 of the Arizona Cardinals lines up during the NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ricky Seals-Jones of the Arizona Cardinals was one of this year's nicer breakout stories. 

RSJ came out of nowhere starting in Week 11 to score 17.4 and 13.2 points, making him one of the hottest waiver-wire adds ahead of the playoffs. 

But like most things at tight end this year, the flash in the pan only lasted so long. 

Fast forward to Week 13, where RSJ only mustered 4.4 points. He's seemingly headed for similar production against the Tennessee Titans, a team ranked in the middle of the pack against tight ends in a game that doesn't figure to feature a ton of offense. 

            

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues.  

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