Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 14: Making the Call on Fantasy Football Fringe Starters

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

New England Patriots running back James White (28) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

We're entering the final quarter of the NFL season, which means most season-long fantasy leagues have begun their playoffs. Many will hold their championships ahead of Week 17, when the danger of teams resting players is very real.

If you're hoping to make it to the final game of the year, you'll need to maximize your lineup at every possible position. This may mean streaming players you wouldn't normally play or benching a starter because of a particularly bad matchup.

Here, we'll examine some of the fringe starters worth playing—and those to avoid—in Week 14.

We'll be looking specifically at players outside the top 20 at each positionthe top 10 for quarterbacksbased on the consensus rankings found at FantasyPros. All picks are based on PPR scoring.


Week 14 Start 'Em

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

James White, RB, New England Patriots

Benny Snell Jr., RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills


Start 'Em: Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had another subpar performance last week—196 yards, one touchdown, one interception—though, to be fair, he was on the road against a very good Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

This week, Mayfield and the Browns will have an easier challenge at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, the Bengals held the New York Jets to just six points in Week 13, but strong defensive performances have been rare for them this season.

Cincinnati ranks 21st in pass defense and has allowed an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. No team has allowed more yards per pass play this season.

Expect a bounce-back performance from Mayfield and the Cleveland offense in Week 14.


Start 'Em: James White, RB, New England Patriots

New England Patriots running back James White is typically a solid start in PPR formats, as he's one of the few reliable pass-catchers on the Patriots roster.

"Everything outside the numbers, they're not getting any separation," Deion Sanders said on NFL Network. "They're not getting open, and they don't really understand the game and how to sit in holes as a receiver."

With Tom Brady's options limited, White is likely to remain a top target against the Kansas City Chiefs this week. He had eight receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns in Week 13, to go with 79 rushing yards. While he may not be as big a part of the rushing attack this week, he should remain PPR fantasy gold.


Start 'Em: DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Ron Schwane/Associated Press

If you watched the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, you know rookie receiver DK Metcalf has gained the trust of Russell Wilson.

The 21-year-old is a player Wilson will look to in critical situations, and while this doesn't always lead to eye-popping numbers—he had six receptions for 75 yards—he is unlikely to put up a blank.

Metcalf isn't a high-upside play this week against the Los Angeles Rams, but managers should expect another steady performance. The Rams rank 10th in pass defense and the Ole Miss product may regularly draw coverage from cornerback Jalen Ramsey. However, a handful of receptions and 40-50 yards is probably the floor for him.

Over his last six games, Metcalf has averaged 4.6 receptions and 61.5 yards. He should produce similar numbers in Week 14 based on his role in the offense alone.


Week 14 Sit 'Em

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears

Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Detroit Lions

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Randall Cobb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens


Sit 'Em: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a rare good fantasy performance against the Detroit Lions in Week 13. He finished with 338 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Don't expect a repeat performance against the Dallas Cowboys, though.

Dallas is in desperation mode after getting embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. This could lead to them using a more aggressive approach defensively, as playing it safe over the final month could lead to the team missing the postseason entirely.

The Cowboys rank eighth in pass defense and have produced 36 sacks and 11 forced fumbles on the season. The risk of another mistake-prone outing for Trubisky is too high to justify streaming him in Week 14.


Sit 'Em: Jonathan Williams, RB, Indianapolis Colts

A couple of weeks ago, Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Williams was a popular waiver-wire target. He racked up 116 rushing yards in Week 11 and another 104 rushing yards in Week 12. However, he had just 14 yards against the Tennessee Titans last week and didn't see a carry in the second half.

"It was kind of a little bit of a hot hand," Colts head coach Frank Reich said, per Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star.

The 25-year-old could return to being that hot hand in Week 14, but starting him is a risky proposition. If either Nyheim Hines or Jordan Wilkins proves more effective, the Arkansas product is likely to take a back seat once again.

This is also an unfavorable matchup for Williams, as the Colts are traveling to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa ranks second in run defense and has allowed an average of just 76.2 rushing yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry.