Fantasy football owners in public Yahoo leagues are set to prepare for the regular-season finale. If there's a playoff spot up for grabs, seeding or final bragging rights, it's important to make the smart play in Week 14.
At this point in the season, rookies have emerged as key cogs in offenses because of injury or the need for evaluation as we head into the final quarter of the season. This week, there's a heavy focus on first-year players, but one veteran running back should land on your radar as a strong streamer option.
Owners shouldn't discount rookie players on poor football teams. There's less pressure on talents who don't have the added weight of playoff implications riding on their performances.
We'll go through the smart plays across five positions with a sleeper option that's available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday 5 p.m. ET.
Smart Matchup Plays, QB:
1. Philip Rivers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em
2. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Oakland Raiders: Start 'Em
3. Dak Prescott vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Start 'Em
4. Kirk Cousins vs. Seattle Seahawks: Sit 'Em
5. Carson Wentz vs. Dallas Cowboys: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Josh Allen vs. New York Jets (5 percent owned)
Josh Allen is back under center, and he's running wild. The rookie signal-caller has accumulated 234 rushing yards over the last two games. It's not a sustainable way to play the position, though for now, it's generating points for fantasy football owners.
In Week 13, Allen also moved the ball through the air, throwing two touchdown passes in a single game for the first time in his NFL career against the Miami Dolphins. He doesn't have the best weapons on the perimeter in Zay Jones and Kelvin Benjamin, but the New York Jets field a mediocre pass defense that ranks 16th in the league.
The Buffalo Bills demolished Gang Green 41-10 in their first meeting with Matt Barkley, who doesn't use his legs to evade pressure in the pocket. The Jets will likely have a more difficult time corralling Allen. The Wyoming product can easily rack up 100 yards against the 27th-ranked run defense. If he throws for two touchdowns, the 22-year-old should reach 30-plus fantasy points.
Smart Matchup Plays, RB:
1. Sony Michel vs. Miami Dolphins: Start 'Em
2. Aaron Jones vs. Atlanta Falcons: Start 'Em
3. Gus Edwards vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Start 'Em
4. Marlon Mack vs. Houston Texans: Sit 'Em
5. Josh Adams vs. Dallas Cowboys: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: LeGarrette Blount vs. Arizona Cardinals (42 percent owned)
If running back Kerryon Johnson misses a third consecutive contest because of a knee sprain, someone has to feast on the Arizona Cardinals' 29th-ranked run defense. The unit has also allowed the most rushing touchdowns (17).
LeGarrette Blount opened the season as the starting ball-carrier in the first three weeks but yielded the spot to Johnson. Because of the rookie's injury, the 31-year-old reclaimed the featured role over the last two contests, recording at least 16 carries in each outing. He's notched 35 totes for 149 yards and two scores in that span.
The Cardinals have allowed 100-plus yards on the ground in 10 out of 12 games. Keep an eye on Johnson's status. If he's out, grab Blount as a solid streamer against a weak run defense. As a starter, the well-traveled veteran is worth a look in Week 14.
Smart Matchup Plays, WR:
1. Jarvis Landry vs. Carolina Panthers: Start 'Em
2. Emmanuel Sanders vs. San Francisco 49ers: Start 'Em
3. D.J. Moore vs. Cleveland Browns: Start 'Em
4. Alshon Jeffery vs. Dallas Cowboys: Sit 'Em
5. John Brown vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Dante Pettis vs. Denver Broncos (4 percent owned)
Despite second-year quarterback Nick Mullens' inexperience under center, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis has taken advantage of opportunities in the aerial attack.
Since Week 10, wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been out because of a knee injury. Marquise Goodwin is tending to a personal matter and has missed the last two contests.
In the meantime, Pettis looks like a solid option in the passing game. Mullens targeted the Washington product 20 times over the last three outings. The 23-year-old converted those targets into 13 receptions for 218 yards and three touchdowns, following four contests without a catch.
Pettis' value would take a slight hit if Goodwin or Garcon return, but there's no need to rush the latter, who's 32 years old, in a lost season. The rookie second-rounder could have a strong performance against the Denver Broncos, who will take the field without their top cornerback Chris Harris Jr. because of a broken fibula.
Smart Matchup Plays, TE:
1. Trey Burton vs. Los Angeles Rams: Start 'Em
2. Jordan Reed vs. New York Giants: Start 'Em
3. David Njoku vs. Carolina Panthers: Start 'Em
4. Austin Hooper vs. Green Bay Packers: Sit 'Em
5. Kyle Rudolph vs. Seattle Seahawks: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Mark Andrews vs. Kansas City Chiefs (2 percent owned)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson still has plenty of room to grow as a passer; he's completed fewer than 15 attempts in each of his three starts. Nonetheless, the rookie signal-caller will face a Kansas City Chiefs defense that's allowing the most receiving yards to tight ends (77.3), per Football Outsiders.
In Week 12, Jackson connected with tight end Mark Andrews, who extended a pass play 74 yards for a touchdown. In the last contest, he converted three targets into three receptions for 47 yards. The Ravens don't have the most dynamic offense, but the unit will have to compete against the top-scoring team in the league.
Jackson will probably have to eclipse a career high in passing attempts (25) to keep pace with the Chiefs in Week 14. As a result, there will be more opportunities for his pass-catchers. Because of Kansas City's coverage issues between the hashes, Andrews could have a big game.
Smart Matchup Plays, DEF:
1. Los Angeles Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em
2. Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets: Start 'Em
3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders: Start 'Em
4. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens: Sit 'Em
5. Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks: Sit 'Em
Smart Sleeper: Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (47 percent owned)
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense garnered league-wide attention for shutting out a red-hot Indianapolis Colts offense Sunday, but the tables could turn in Week 14.
Lost in the 6-0 shutout, the Jaguars couldn't find the end zone against the Colts' 15th-ranked scoring defense. Keep in mind the coaching staff has benched quarterback Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler.
Running back Leonard Fournette didn't suit up for Week 13 because of a suspension. He'll return to action against the Titans, but the second-year ball-carrier will likely face eight-man fronts with the coaching staff daring Kessler to challenge a fifth-ranked pass defense.
Owners scrambling for a defensive unit that may be available on the waiver wire should look to Tennessee as a streamer option in a favorable matchup.