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

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2018

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck warms up before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Gary McCullough/Associated Press

The sheer chaos that always seems to strike fantasy football owners this time of year came early in Week 14. 

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry seemed like an obvious sit for a Thursday game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only had Henry had a minimal impact all season, his AFC South rivals entered allowing the second-fewest points to opposing rushers all season. 

Naturally, Henry erupted for 47.8 points. 

If Henry's outburst is any sign, the rest of Week 14 won't be much easier. Here's a look at some matchup value comparisons and start-sit decisions to consider.

       

QB

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: Andrew Luck, IND (at HOU) 

Starting Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on the road in Houston isn't as easy as it might seem. 

Not only is Luck on the road against a defense that knows him well, he is coming off a 10.52-point showing against another division rival, and the Houston Texans happen to allow just the ninth-fewest points to opposing passers. 

Yet, Houston has benefited from playing quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert, Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, Cody Kessler and Colt McCoy. When Luck faced the unit in Week 4, he put up 35.66 points via four touchdowns. 

A mixture of season-ending desperation and game flow in what could be a shootout keeps Luck a solid option despite some of the negative points surrounding the matchup. 

        

Sit: Kirk Cousins, MIN (at SEA) 

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

With so much at stake this time of year, now isn't the time to roll the dice on Kirk Cousins. 

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback has been a major boon for owners at times, scoring 27 or more points three times this year in solid situations. 

Week 14 doesn't classify. Cousins is on the road against a Seattle Seahawks defense lacking in name power these days but still only allowing the 11th-fewest points to quarterbacks. 

Cousins hasn't been a sure thing, either. After 27.38 points in Week 12, he hit the road in Week 13 against New England in a solid game flow and put up just 10.04 points on 33 attempts. 

      

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Christian McCaffrey (at CLE) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (vs. PHI)Ezekiel Elliott
Lamar Miller (vs. IND) 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)Dalvin Cook
LeSean McCoy (vs. NYJ) vs. Phillip Lindsay (at SF)Phillip Lindsay
Author's opinion

Start: Nick Chubb, CLE (vs. CAR) 

Times are changing around the Cleveland Browns when some of their fantasy players are viable starts this time of year. 

So it goes for running back Nick Chubb, who finally had the inexplicable shackles removed by the coaching staff starting in Week 7. Since, he's scored 14 or more points five times, including four times in a row with a high of 34.4. 

While the on-paper outlook isn't great in Week 14 thanks to a game against a Carolina Panthers defense allowing the sixth-fewest points to backs, keep in mind Chubb only saw nine carries in Week 13, yet totaled 14.7 points. 

Versatile and part of the attack no matter what happens, Chubb is quickly becoming a must play regardless of matchup. 

       

Sit: Adrian Peterson, WAS (vs. NYG) 

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson. 

Peterson looked like he had a massive day in front of him in Week 13 after ripping off a 90-yard touchdown run. He finished with 98 yards. 

While still good for 15.8 points, it's a good sign Peterson is fading behind an injured offensive line and within an offense that needs to start Mark Sanchez under center in Week 14. 

So while the New York Giants allow the eighth-most points to backs, game flow could take Peterson out of the equation early. And even if it doesn't, Peterson's low ceiling makes him a hard play with so much on the line. 

      

WR

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: D.J. Moore, CAR (at CLE) 

The D.J. Moore breakout with the Carolina Panthers continues at just the right time for owners. 

Moore has 8.5 or more points in three consecutive games, his best outburst coming in Week 11 against a bad Detroit defense, which saw him put up 25.2 points. 

The Browns are in the same zip code as the Lions defensively, which is good news for Moore. They allow the 12th-most points to opposing wideouts, so a game that could feature plenty of passing should see Moore continuing his upswing. 

Keep in mind the usage shouldn't dip either, not with Moore seeing eight or more targets in each of the last three games. If he's around there, he boasts top-five positional upside given the matchup. 

      

Sit: Demaryius Thomas, HOU (vs. IND) 

As expected, the Demaryius Thomas outburst with his new team was a developing anomaly. 

Thomas finally broke out with the Texans, scoring 17.8 points in Week 12. But this took two scores on just five catches, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when he regressed to just 4.7 points on five catches in Week 13. 

Even worse, the most recent performance came against a poor Cleveland defense, which paints a bleak picture for Week 14. There, Thomas has to run against a Colts defense allowing the fifth-fewest points to wideouts on the season. 

Without guaranteed usage and becoming a touchdown-reliant producer, the fact Thomas is still a recognizable name should mean little to owners this time of year. 

         

TE

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)Jimmy Graham
Rhett Ellison (at WAS) vs. Charles Clay (vs. NYJ)Charles Clay
Author's opinion

Start: Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. ATL) 

Don't laugh—Jimmy Graham has been a dud for a large portion of this season, which in part might explain why the Green Bay Packers made a coaching change. 

Graham went four of five weeks recently with failing to hit the five-point mark. He at least showed signs of life in Week 13 with an 11-target game in which he ended with nine points. The targets tied a season high and the points were his most since Week 9. 

With a coaching change complete, the hope is the Packers return to prioritizing one of the game's best against a hobbled Atlanta Falcons defense allowing the 15th-fewest points to the position. 

If common sense prevails, Graham should exploit the Falcons on the way to one of the week's biggest upside opportunities. 

      

Sit: Cameron Brate, TB (vs. NO) 

Experienced fantasy owners shouldn't need a reminder, but here goes anyway: Cameron Brate isn't O.J. Howard. 

The current starting Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end has hit double digits once since a Week 5 bye, needing a touchdown to do so. While he received a steady six targets his last time out, Brate is still in a no-fly zone of sorts against the New Orleans Saints. 

Those Saints have their problems at times, but not against tight ends. They allow the second-fewest points to the position and have yet to allow double digits to any player at the position. 

Barring something dramatic, Brate won't be the first. 

     

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

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