Week 14 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Fantasy Football Stars to Play and Bench

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2018

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 02: Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drops back to throw a pass in the second half of a game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on December 02, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
Will Vragovic/Getty Images

Somewhat cliche or not, the NFL seems to have saved its best for last as the fantasy football season winds down in most leagues. 

The Week 14 start 'em, sit 'em decisions are padded with every game, with four opening with spreads of more than three points and seven games sitting on an over/under or more than 48 points, according to OddsShark.

So it goes with games like Atlanta-Green Bay, New Orleans-Tampa Bay and others headlining the schedule.

To assist in making the best possible decisions in crunch time, let's compare some of the notable matchups to come up with best values and target some must-know decisions on individual stars. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Drew Brees (at TB) vs. Aaron Rodgers (vs. ATL)Drew Brees
Jameis Winston (vs. NO) vs. Dak Prescott (vs. PHI)Jameis Winston
Matt Ryan (at GB) vs. Philip Rivers (vs. CIN)Philip Rivers
Cam Newton (at CLE) vs. Kirk Cousins (at SEA)Cam Newton
Deshaun Watson (vs. IND) vs. Baker Mayfield (vs. CAR)Deshaun Watson
Author's opinion

Start: Jameis Winston, TB (vs. NO)

Just a few weeks ago, the idea of relying on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston with everything at stake seemed like a wild idea. 

But fast forward to present day and it seems like a solid upside move. 

After all, Winston is back in the starting role and has north of 22 points in each of his last two outings. Longtime fantasy owners will be happy to know he's thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions over those two outings, the latter more important than the former when it comes to Winston. 

Of course, it helps Winston's next game is against the New Orleans Saints, owners of a defense allowing the third-most points to quarterbacks on average this year. This doesn't include Winston himself because the teams met in Week 1, but Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in there and put up 42.28 points. 


Sit: Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. MIN) 

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The weekly fluctuations at quarterback could strike down Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the worst possible moment. 

Wilson has 20 or more points in each of his last two outings and hasn't thrown a pick since Week 9, but he hasn't played a defense like the Minnesota Vikings, either, at least in terms of ranks against quarterbacks. 

Those Vikings only allow the eighth-fewest points to quarterbacks this year, which includes holding every quarterback faced under the 24-point mark. In recent weeks, this includes a dominant stretch against the likes of Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton, to name a few. 

While Wilson does pull off the unthinkable at times, rolling him out for an odd Monday night game against an elite defense is a risky play at a position where streaming on a week-to-week basis based on matchups likely helped owners advance to this point in the first place.



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Christian McCaffrey (at CLE) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (vs. PHI)Ezekiel Elliott
Leonard Fournette (at TEN) vs. David Johnson (vs. DET) David Johnson
Alvin Kamara (at TB) vs. Saquon Barkley (at WAS)Saquon Barkley
Adrian Peterson (vs. NYG) vs. Dalvin Cook (at SEA)Adrian Peterson
LeSean McCoy (vs. NYJ) vs. Phillip Lindsay (at SF)Phillip Lindsay
Author's opinion

Start: David Johnson, ARI (vs. DET) 

A few owners out of the running probably cringed reading the above name, but it is safe to trust Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson in Week 14. 

Johnson had been a fantasy dead zone earlier in the season thanks to some poor coaching, and over his last two he has tallied single-digit performances despite 17 or more attempts in both. 

But it mostly boils down to quality of matchup, with Johnson facing solid defenses against running backs on the road. That certainly isn't the case in Week 14, where at home he'll get to beat up on a Detroit Lions defense allowing the 10th-most points to the position. 

Those Lions have let up double-digit points to opposing starting backs every week since the Week 6 bye, last week coughing up an even 30 to Todd Gurley. Johnson's ability as a rusher and through the air at home should produce something similar. 


Sit: Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. JAX)

Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

Owners in need of help shouldn't fall victim to the usual Derrick Henry cycle. 

The Tennessee Titans running back has made a habit of popping off for solid production that hints at more before disappearing again. Most recently, he scored 17.8 on minimal yardage but two scores in Week 10 before disappearing with single digits in each of the following two games. 

Going into Week 14, Henry last put up a solid 11.5 points on 10 totes for 40 yards, a pair of catches and a rushing score. 

But the downfall is easy to see coming, as he next lines up against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense allowing the outright fewest points to backs on average. One opposing rusher has hit double digits against the Jaguars since Week 9, none have reached the 20-point mark and Henry only managed 5.7 against the unit in Week 3.



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Odell Beckham Jr. (at WAS) vs. Keenan Allen (vs. CIN)Odell Beckham Jr.
Antonio Brown (at OAK) vs. Amari Cooper (vs. PHI)Antonio Brown
Mike Evans (vs. NO) vs. T.Y. Hilton (at HOU)Mike Evans
Michael Thomas (at TB) vs. Julio Jones (at GB)Michael Thomas
Stefon Diggs (at SEA) vs. Adam Thielen (at SEA) Adam Thielen
Author's opinion

Start: Tyler Boyd, CIN (at LAC)

Through it all, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd remains a solid option. 

Boyd has back-to-back outings of 12 or more points despite his offense losing Andy Dalton and A.J. Green getting hurt as soon as he returned. For the usage hounds, he's sitting on eight or more targets in three consecutive games. 

This shouldn't change no matter who gets the start under center. With Jeff Driskel at quarterback a week ago, Boyd came up three yards shy of 100 yards. And while the Los Angeles Chargers appear scary via allowing the ninth-fewest points to wideouts, they have faced a cupcake schedule in this regard, including Arizona, Denver, Oakland (twice), Seattle, Tennessee, Cleveland, San Francisco and Buffalo. 

Boyd remains a stellar play once looking past the face-value numbers, as he's going to be the top option on a depleted offense.  


Sit: Golden Tate, PHI (at DAL)

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

It likely isn't the best idea to buy too much into Golden Tate's recent outburst. 

Tate has been a bust with the Philadelphia Eagles since being traded, with the exception being Week 13, where he caught all seven of his targets for 85 yards and a score, good for an even 20 points. 

But Tate isn't going to catch everything thrown his way each time out, and that happened to occur against a defense allowing top-five numbers to wideouts. 

The same doesn't apply to the Dallas Cowboys. 

Those Cowboys allow the second-fewest points to tight ends this year, which includes holding all notable New Orleans Saints wideouts under 10 points last time out. Tate should be a good fit in the long run for the Eagles, but he's not a gamble fantasy owners should take right now. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Zach Ertz (at DAL) vs. George Kittle (vs. DEN)Zach Ertz
Eric Ebron (at HOU) vs. Jared Cook (vs. PIT)Eric Ebron
Travis Kelce (vs. BAL) vs. Vance McDonald (at OAK)Travis Kelce
Rob Gronkowski (at MIA) vs. Jimmy Graham (vs. ATL)Rob Gronkowski
Jonnu Smith (vs. JAX) vs. Charles Clay (vs. NYJ)Charles Clay
Author's opinion

Start: Eric Ebron, IND (at HOU) 

There's some sense in abandoning Eric Ebron now. 

The Indianapolis Colts tight end has double-digit outings in four of his last five games, which includes highs of 26.6 and 19 points with multiple touchdowns twice. 

Unlike Tate, Ebron has seamlessly fit in with his new offense. And though he missed practice Wednesday, Ebron had the same descriptors next to his name a week ago before another strong performance. 

That's great, as Ebron next gets to play a Houston Texans defense allowing the eighth-most points to the position. Ebron is one of six tight ends to put up double-digit numbers on the unit so far this year and should be used to exploit the divisional foe again.


Sit: Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. NYG)

Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

Unlike Boyd, Jordan Reed isn't one to lean on despite injuries around him.

Reed has had a stunningly quiet season with the Washington Redskins this year, hitting double digits just three times. And while two of these have come over his last three outings, his usage is all over the place after Colt McCoy went down and Mark Sanchez took over as starter. 

It doesn't help a game against the New York Giants means a date with a unit allowing the 17th-most points to the position. In Week 8, Reed hit 7.3 points against the NFC East rival, but it took a season-high 12 targets. 

There is no guarantee Reed sees the same usage, especially with the run figuring to be the focal point of the attack. 


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


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