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

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 7, 2021

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

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    Peter Aiken/Associated Press

    As the 2021 NFL schedule moves forward to Week 14, the mindset of fantasy football managers should shift into playoff mode.

    Whether you're in the second season now or fighting to secure one of the final spots, your margin for error is out the window.

    It's do-or-die time with the always tricky start-or-sit debates, so we're highlighting a pair of players on each side of the coin to answer a few lineup questions you might have.

Start: Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Any time you're operating on the fringes of a fantasy roster—where all start-or-sit questions originate—you aren't coming from a place of complete certainty. That might mean more to this recommendation than any, as Derek Carr isn't earning a ton of trust here lately.

    The 30-year-old went without a scoring pass in Week 13, meaning he has thrown for multiple scores in just one of his last five contests. While his completion percentage was good (73.7) and his yardage was adequate (249), he is struggling to deliver the high-end production he semi-regularly posted earlier in the campaign.

    So, why stick with Carr? Because his matchup is favorable—the Chiefs have allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks, per Yahoo—and the injury news is encouraging with one of his top pass-catchers, Darren Waller.

    While a knee injury sidelined the tight end on Sunday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler noted that a source said the player "is optimistic about a potential return" this weekend.

Sit: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    There were moments this season when Matt Ryan held set-it-and-forget-it starting status, but those keep moving further into the rear-view.

    Sunday marked the third time in four games that the 36-year-old failed to find the end zone. During that stretch, he has just a single touchdown pass against five interceptions, and he hasn't produced even 200 passing yards in four of his last six outings.

    Why should anyone expect a turnaround? More importantly, who is willing to bank their playoff hopes on that slim possibility? If you raised your hand, get it down quickly before anyone notices.

    If Ryan's woes weren't worrisome enough, he draws a Carolina defense allowing the fourth fewest fantasy points to the position.

Start: Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions

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    Peter Aiken/Associated Press

    All season, the Denver Broncos must have wondered what second-round rookie running back Javonte Williams could do in a featured role.

    They got the answer in Week 13, when Melvin Gordon III was forced to sit with shoulder and hip injuries. Williams not only answered opportunity's knock, he also broke down the entire door frame. He turned season highs of 23 carries and nine targets into 178 scrimmage yards, six receptions and a touchdown catch.

    While Gordon is expected to practice at some point this week, it would hardly be shocking for the Broncos to take it easy on their veteran, particularly in a very winnable matchup with the Lions.

    If the 28-year-old has to sit again, Williams would rocket into the elite tier at running back. But even if Gordon goes, there should be enough volume to go around for the rookie to have fantasy-relevant numbers against the third most generous defense for fantasy RBs.

Sit: Tevin Coleman, RB, New York Jets vs. New Orleans Saints

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Here's a challenge for football fanatics: Try using the words Jets, offense and exciting in the same sentence without using the words not or Elijah Mitchell. Actually, don't bother with the exercise; it's impossible.

    Tevin Coleman sort of embodies this lack of excitement. Theoretically, he's been fine his last two times out, handling 27 carries for 125 yards and turning five receptions into another 22 yards. But both games came without a score, since all of his games have been score-less.

    In fact, the last time the 28-year-old found the end zone was January 11, 2020, during the NFC Divisional Round. And he went into that game having scored a single touchdown in his previous nine contests.

    Scoring isn't his thing. Huge yardage totals aren't his thing, either. Tack explosive plays onto the list, too, as his next 20-yard run will be his first of the season. Unless you're desperate for moderate volume, there has to be a more exciting option either on your bench or on the waiver wire.