Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 14: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More

Jake RillAnalyst IIIDecember 3, 2019

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins warms up before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Congratulations! If you're still doing fantasy football research at this point in the season, that likely means you've made your league's playoffs.

Don't get complacent, though. Only one team is going to emerge from your league as this year's champion, and in order to do that, more research needs to be done. Now is not the time for careless mistakes or lack of preparation.

Just like every week, the matchups need to be analyzed and all options must be considered before your lineup is set and locked.

Here's some fantasy football advice for Week 14, with some players to start, some to sit and sleepers to consider.



Start: Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins vs. Detroit Lions

Looking for a bounce-back win, the Vikings are taking on an NFC North rival that Kirk Cousins picked apart earlier in the season. And with home-field advantage and a tight playoff picture, Minnesota could easily air it out to blow this game open.

Cousins went 24-for-34 for 338 yards and four touchdowns in the Vikings' win over the Lions in Week 7. It was one of the top performances in what has been a strong season for the quarterback, who has passed for 3,032 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions through 12 games.

The Lions have been eliminated from playoff contention, plus they rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense (280.1 passing yards allowed per game).

Expect a big game from Cousins to get the Vikings back on track.


Sit: New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees vs. San Francisco 49ers

If Drew Brees didn't put up big numbers against the Falcons last week, he could really struggle against one of the NFL's top defenses this Sunday.

The 49ers are allowing an NFL-best 134.3 passing yards per game this season. No other team is allowing fewer than 163.5 per game. That's why San Francisco is 10-2 and continues to play competitive games against the other top teams in the league.

It isn't worth taking the fantasy risk on Brees this week. Find another quarterback with a more favorable matchup.


Sleeper: Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill at Oakland Raiders

The Titans' season has turned around since they inserted Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. He's led Tennessee to wins in five of its last six games, putting it in the thick of the AFC wild-card picture.

The 31-year-old hasn't just been winning games, he's also having solid showings. In each of those five victories, he's passed for at least two touchdowns in each of them. He's also scored three rushing touchdowns over his past four games, which could be an added bonus for fantasy owners who take the risk on him.

The time to do that could be this week, as the Raiders allow 258.2 passing yards per game (24th in the NFL). Tannehill could lead the Titans to another win, and he should have another solid fantasy day.


Running Backs

Start: Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon at Jacksonville Jaguars

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 1:  Melvin Gordon #25 of the Los Angeles Chargers rushes against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter of a game at Empower Field at Mile High on December 1, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

At this point, Melvin Gordon should be in fantasy lineups every week. Although he hasn't scored a touchdown the past two weeks, he just had a strong showing against the Broncos, racking up 110 total yards.

Plus, the 26-year-old isn't going to be kept out of the end zone for much longer. He had four touchdowns over a three-game span that ended earlier this month, and the Chargers continue to play competitive games that will require them to rely on their two-headed backfield.

This should be a good opportunity for Gordon to end his touchdown drought, as the Jaguars rank 28th in the NFL in rushing defense (136.6 rushing yards allowed per game). Now is not the time to leave Gordon on the bench in fantasy.


Sit: Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After back-to-back 100-yard games, Jonathan Williams had his first bad game as the Colts' lead running back this past week. Continuing to fill in for the injured Marlon Mack, he had only eight carries for 14 yards and an 11-yard reception in a loss to the Titans.

It may not get better this week, as the Colts will likely plan to go through the air to try to beat the Buccaneers' defense, which struggles in pass coverage but has excelled stopping the ground game. Tampa Bay ranks second in the NFL with only 76.3 rushing yards allowed per game.

With more film for teams to study on Williams, he may need to make some adjustments to find the success he had several weeks ago. This won't be the week that happens, though.


Sleeper: Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny at Los Angeles Rams

The Seahawks had planned to get Rashaad Penny more involved in the offense after his big game two weeks ago, and that's exactly what happened Monday night. He rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown while also notching a receiving score.

The 23-year-old has three touchdowns over the past two weeks after he had only one through his first six games of the season. And now that Seattle has found a way to get both him and Chris Carson touches, he is becoming an intriguing fantasy option.

This will likely be the last week Penny is available in a lot of fantasy leagues. So, try to pick him up and immediately plug him into this week's lineup.


Wide Receivers

Start: Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton at Houston Texans

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

One player that greatly benefited from Drew Lock taking over as the Broncos' starting quarterback was Courtland Sutton, who had five receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns in their win over the Chargers on Sunday.

It was the 24-year-old's first multi-touchdown game since Week 4, and he had only one score over his previous six games entering that contest. He was having a solid season, but there's now the potential for him to play even better over the final month.

The Texans allow 262.9 passing yards per game (28th in the NFL), so there's a good chance Lock and Sutton could hook up on some deep passes.

Keep starting Sutton and benefit from the results.


Sit: Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Jaguars' offense is in some disarray. This past week, they scored only 11 points in a loss to the Buccaneers while starting quarterback Nick Foles was benched and the team went back to rookie Gardner Minshew II.

The result was another quiet day for DJ Chark, who has been held under 50 receiving yards in three of his last four games. He also didn't score a touchdown for the second consecutive week.

Now, the 23-year-old will face a tough assignment in going up against the Chargers' secondary. And with the Jaguars scuffling, it's unlikely he ends his own personal skid.


Sleeper: Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington at Arizona Cardinals

Finally, James Washington is emerging as a solid fantasy option after a slow start to the season.

Despite the Steelers' quarterback issues, the 23-year-old has had strong games in three of the past four weeks. In each of those three games, he had at least 90 yards and a touchdown. And Sunday, he had his first 100-yard performance when he notched four receptions for 111 yards and a score.

The Cardinals rank last in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 307.5 yards through the air per game. So, expect Washington's hot streak to continue with another solid day.