Week 14 begins with the Houston Texans at the Jacksonville Jaguars and fantasy owners are hoping this week can be as shocking and eventful as Week 13. Can we have 3 more WRs with 30+ points? Will there be a marquee QB that scores single digit fantasy points? Who can you rely on to lead your team to the Fantasy Football playoffs, or better yet, lead you to the next round of the playoffs?
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
A week after only gaining 1 yard on the ground, Ben Tate accrued 102 rushing yards and 3 TDs off of 22 carries. Statistically the Jaguars are better against the run, but I’m still expecting Tate to have a good game. As long as Case Keenum is under center you’re having faith in Andre Johnson, but Garrett Graham hasn’t done too well lately and I’d have to suggest benching him. Cecil Shorts had a nice game last week, and MJD is still producing so I’d mark them both as Flex players. Sleeper Special is Ace Sanders, who has had at least 60 receiving yards in 3 consecutive games.
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots
Will the Josh Gordon show continue? Aqib Talib will be covering Gordon (just a hunch) and Talib has more or less shutdown opposing WRs thus far. I think Gordon is a top-10 fantasy WR regardless, so it’ll be interesting to see how much he can do. Aside from Gordon there isn’t much on this offense. Willis McGahee will try to take advantage of the Pats run defense, but I think the real Sleeper Special here is Jordan Cameron. He’s been very quiet over the past 4 weeks, but with Talib focusing on Gordon, Cameron may end up being the top option. For the Pats, as much as I like Joe Haden, I doubt he can stop Gronk. Julian Edelman has looked better than Danny Amendola in recent weeks so I think they’re both Flex worthy. No idea on whether Stevan Ridley will be involved or not so I’d bench him. The only Patriots RB you can really trust right now is Shane Vereen.
Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals
The Colts aren’t doing much fantasy wise other than Donald Brown. The offense has stalled and even Andrew Luck looks like a shell of himself. The Bengals are 8th overall vs the run and the pass, so I don’t expect a big game from anyone on the Colts. Brown is a Flex, and TY Hilton is as well based on his big play ability, but if you have a playoff spot on the line I’m not using either. Even though Andy Dalton may struggle, AJ Green is still a top-10 fantasy WR. The Colts defense has deteriorated, so I like Green and Giovani Bernard in this game. Law Firm continues to get a solid number of carries, and his 20 carries for 92 yards and a TD looked good last week. Sleeper Special goes to the Bengals defense. Have you seen the Colts lately?
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
I don’t believe in the revival of Steven Jackson. With that being said, the Packers aren’t good against the run and just gave up 241 rushing yards. Jackson is an RB2/Flex for this week because the matchup is too good to pass up. Roddy White is a WR3/Flex for me. Harry Douglas is still the top receiver in this offense, but White looks like he’s on his way back. I can’t see how you could have confidence starting anyone in the Packers offense other than Eddie Lacy. We don’t even know who the QB is, and no, Jordy Nelson is not QB proof. Sleeper Special is whoever starts at QB, solely because the Falcons aren’t good.
Oakland Raiders at NY Jets
The Jets are great against the run, but not so much against the pass. This gives Matt McGloin the opportunity to have a nice week to bounce back from his single digit output last week. Rod Streater is a Flex, and even though Andre Holmes had a big game he’s done virtually nothing else this season to make me think he’ll be a new threat for the Raiders. Darren McFadden may be downgraded to out (surprising I know) so you can roll out Rashad Jennings as your RB2 without worry. For the Jets: no thanks. Chris Ivory gets a Flex designation with RB2 upside, but other than that I’m staying away from the Jets. Sleeper Special goes to the Raiders defense, because you start the DST against Geno Smith.
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Both teams have improving defenses and high powered offenses, but I think both pass attacks give the opposing defense issues so bench the DSTs. There aren’t many people that you’d normally start that I’d say to bench this game. I’m not sure why Nate Burleson only got 1 target last week, but I expect him to do fairly well here. Between Burleson and Kris Durham I rank the former higher. Since I think most of these guys are starts I rank everyone by position as follows: Stafford > Foles. Megatron > DeSean > Cooper > Burleson > Durham. McCoy > Bush. I’m notching Zach Ertz’ game as a fluke and Joseph Fauria is too TD dependent for me to suggest using him. No sleeper special for this matchup. I’m not expecting any shocking performances from lesser known guys.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Two solid games in a row by Mike Wallace?? This week I give him a WR2 rank, especially since the Steelers have been giving up big plays to top WRs lately. Brian Hartline isn’t a start for me, because the Steelers have done a good job of limiting the secondary WR. Pitt has also done well against opposing TEs so Charles Clay is a TE2/Flex for me. For the Steelers, we’re still waiting for word on whether Le’Veon Bell will play. Antonio Brown stays as WR1, with Emmanuel Sanders as a WR2/Flex play. Sleeper Special is Felix Jones, who is currently #2 on the Steelers RB depth chart in case Bell isn’t cleared to play.
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bills remain to be a running offense, so Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller are the only players worth considering. Jackson is still higher than Spiller for me, especially when you factor in the involvement in the passing game. Tampa isn’t as bad against the run as the Falcons, so you have to temper your expectations for Spiller’s long run breakouts as well. For Tampa, Vincent Jackson has not been practicing, so it isn’t set in stone whether he’ll play or not. If VJax can’t play you definitely aren’t starting Mike Glennon. Bobby Rainey gets a Flex spot for me, but that’s about it for the Bucs. Sleeper Special is Tiquan Underwood, especially if Vjax can’t play.
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Burgundys
I’m hoping this is the game the Chiefs get their defense in order. Their last 3 games have been very poor and the Burgundys have been struggling on offense enough that it should be the jolt they need. I think Alex Smith can be a top-10 QB against this team, and Dwayne Bowe should do well enough to earn a WR2 spot. I don’t know what is wrong with RG3, but he’s holding back Pierre Garcon. The receptions are there so if you’re in a PPR league Garcon is legit WR1 contender, but for standard leagues he’s stuck in a “WR2 with WR1 upside” hole as long as RG3 continues to struggle. No sleeper special for this one. I think the Chiefs build a lead early and the Burgundys continue to struggle outside of Garcon and Alfred Morris.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens
Well this will be easy. Adrian Peterson. Torrey Smith. Ravens DST. Easy right? I don’t care that the Vikings are giving up 120 rushing yards per game. Ray Rice has played plenty of teams this season with bad run defenses and he’s only crossed 50 rushing yards twice this season. Who is going to be the starting QB for Minnesota? Doesn’t matter, I still think Josh Freeman is the best guy they have signed and he is the least likely to touch the field. Sleeper Special is Bernard Pierce, who has run better than Rice the last two games.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos
Ryan Fitzpatrick at Mile High? Kendall Wright owners will take it. Normally a Flex, Wright could have a WR2 game as this will surely be a game where Fitzpatrick needs to throw to try to keep things close. If Delanie Walker is cleared to play he’s a top-10 TE for me, but if he doesn’t play then look out for the Sleeper Special Nate Washington. With Delanie out, Nate is sure to get more looks. I doubt we see too much of Chris Johnson this game, so he’s a Flex play at most. The WR roulette wheel landed on Eric Decker last week, and this justifies the belief that you don’t bench Broncos WRs. Julius Thomas looks like he may be in line for a return, which makes the offense even more cluttered. Regardless, start your Denver guys.
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Some people will ask what was wrong with Tavon Austin, but my view is that he just had a normal game. I firmly believe the only guy on the Rams you can trust right now is Zac Stacy. The Cardinals have been giving up a lot to opposing TEs this year which makes Jared Cook an interesting play, so if you’re looking for a gamble he’s your guy. Larry Fitzgerald and Malcolm Floyd are proving to be a nice WR duo, and I rank them both as WR2 players. You can even take a look at Rashard Mendenhall who has put up another solid game and is doing well with Andre Ellington on the bench. The Rams offense doesn’t look like much of a threat to me, so use the Cardinals DST if you don’t have a sure fire one to use. Sleeper Special is Carson Palmer. 3 consecutive games with 300+ passing yards and multiple TDs, and in Week 1 vs the Rams he put up 327 yards and 2 TDs. What more do you want from this guy?
NY Giants at San Diego Chargers
I still don’t trust Eli Manning, but Victor Cruz should have a good day. The Chargers gave up 83 yards and a TD to AJ Green last week and Cruz is in a very similar situation (good run game, spotty passing game, questionable QB). Andre Brown is a stud and if you own him he should be in your lineup. Not much from Rueben Randle last week, but from what I’ve seen he’s the true #2 WR on the team and is a good Flex player. Both Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead didn’t do much last week which was surprising to me. Another surprising fact, the Giants are 9th against the run. I don’t say this often, but I’d bench Woodhead if you have better options/matchups. The Giants defense has improved as a whole, and outside of Week 12 Philip Rivers hasn’t looked as riveting lately. Keenan Allen (imo) is a must start, but Antonio Gates has dropped like Rivers, and lately has been getting outplayed by Ladarius Green (Sleeper Special).
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
If the Seahawks were home, I’d pretty much rank the entire team as a top-10 play, but they do play worse on the road and the 49ers are still a stingy defense. The pass worked so well on Monday that people didn’t realize how well the Saints limited Marshawn Lynch. I’m willing to bet the 49ers looked at that tape and will do their best to limit him as well. Overall I think Lynch and Gore will be limited in some respect by the opposing defense because both of them do that really well. Yes, Lynch ran for 98 yards and 2 TDs in their first meeting this season, but Russell Wilson wasn’t playing lights out back then and the 49ers have gotten better. Wilson is undoubtedly a top play for me, because one of the reasons why he’s so hard to defend is that you don’t know who he’ll throw it to. Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate are Flex plays, and Zach Miller is a TE2. For the 49ers offense I expect Kaepernick to struggle and he stays out of my top-15 QBs. Anquan Boldin is a WR2 and Vernon Davis is a TE1, but remember the Seahawks defense is great and will most likely limit 1 if not both of them. I have a hard time telling anyone to bench either DST, so both are plays (Seattle > 49ers). Sleeper Special is Michael Crabtree. I know a lot of people aren’t starting him just yet, but if Kaep really hits a wall he’ll go to his main safety blanket.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
These are 2 top-5 QBs, so regardless of how good the opposing defense is you’re starting these guys. The Saints are home so their defense should play much better than it did Monday, which means Steve Smith remains on my bench. Greg Olsen has been the better fantasy option all season and he’s a top-10 TE. You’re obviously leaving the Panthers RBs on the bench, but what about the Saints? In PPR formats Pierre Thomas is a stud, but Sproles is getting back to the forefront and had twice as many targets as Pierre last game. If it was solely one or the other out there then I’d play that person as a Flex (especially in PPR formats), but against this stout defense I feel like they’ll cut into each other’s production too much. To finish up the Saints, Colston is a Flex play and Jimmy Graham is an unquestioned starter. Sleeper Special is the Saints DST. They won’t really have to worry about the run outside of Cam, and they’re playing at home.
Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears
Tony Romo vs Josh McCown, Dez Bryant vs Brandon Marshall, DeMarco Murray vs Matt Forte, and Jason Witten vs Martellus Bennett. Do you know what that means? It means you’re starting all of them if you have them. McCown I say because the Cowboys are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Yes you are starting Alshon Jeffrey as well; he definitely is not merely a sleeper anymore. In short, I expect a lot of offense in this game so leave the DST for either team at home. Sleeper Special is Terrance Williams. He’s been very quiet with Miles Austin’s return, but last week against the Raiders he had the 2nd most targets on the team.