Week 14 is the start of the playoffs in most fantasy football leagues. If it’s not the playoffs, it’s the last week of the regular season which means that you’re jockeying for position in the standings to claw your way into the postseason or earn that first-round bye. Whatever the circumstance, this is it for your fantasy team.
You’ve spent all season tending to your roster like a shepherd to his/her flock. You did all the pre-draft research, the waiver-wire scouting and the wheeling and dealing that you could possibly do to give your team the best chance of a championship.
But in Week 14, it’s on you: the head coach/general manager/owner. Here is some advice to help you with the tough decisions you’ve been sweating over.
Note: All fantasy points against stats are for standard ESPN leagues.
Start: Josh McCown
Josh McCown is a must-start QB this week.
The only thing that could keep Josh McCown from fantasy glory this week was the potential return of Jay Cutler. Well, that’s not happening in time for the Chicago Bears’ showdown with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
Bears have ruled out Jay Cutler from Monday night game vs. Dallas.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 5, 2013
As a result, McCown is a must-start quarterback.
For starters, Dallas is the second-most favorable fantasy matchup for quarterbacks, giving up 19.7 points per game. In addition, the Cowboys offense is very explosive, so the Bears won’t be in a situation where they’ll be running the ball excessively to drain the clock.
McCown will need to pass the ball and, as he’s shown in his four starts, he’s more than capable of moving the football through the air.
Furthermore, he has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Brandon Marshall is one of the best wide receivers in the league, and Alshon Jeffery is quickly earning his place at the table with the NFL’s most devastating wideouts.
Throw in Martellus Bennett’s red-zone effectiveness and Matt Forte’s elite receiving skills out of the backfield and you have one of the best receiving corps in the game.
McCown has a juicy matchup in Week 14, and all the tools to post outstanding numbers. He’s a top-six quarterback this week.
Consider Sitting: Drew Brees
Don’t expect too much from Brees this week.
Drew Brees has been fantastic all season (except for last week), and if he’s on your fantasy team, he’s probably been a big reason for your success. Considering all that, it will be incredibly difficult to even think about sitting him—especially in what is the first week of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues—but think about it you must.
To be clear, Brees is by no means a “must-sit.” Returning to the Mercedez-Benz Superdome after a disgusting Week 13, Brees could very well return with a vengeance and post a typical Breesian stat line.
But there is also the very real possibility he could struggle for the second consecutive week against one of the NFL’s best defenses.
The Carolina Panthers are the worst fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks, and here’s a look at what they’ve given up in each game this season.
The Panthers are the worst matchup for QBs.
Carolina’s defense hasn’t allowed a quarterback to score over 17 fantasy points in any game this year, including their games against quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan. Furthermore, they haven’t let an opposing signal-caller pass for more than one touchdown this season.
With Week 14 being so critical in every league, your expectations for Brees should be tempered. He might not put up another stinker like last week, but he’s not going to carry your team. There are other options with higher upside, and Brees belongs on your bench if you have one of them.
|15||Robert Griffin III|
Start: Knowshon Moreno
Moreno won’t lose touches to Montee Ball.
Knowshon Moreno owners may be a little scared after last week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only was Moreno extremely ineffective on the ground (15 carries for 18 yards), but rookie Montee Ball was amazing (13 carries for 117 yards).
That led to some concern that Moreno’s touches would drop, but that won’t happen. For starters, Moreno is a much better back in the passing game, and the Denver Broncos offense runs through Peyton Manning.
Secondly, Moreno has been fantastic on the ground this year (excluding last week), so there is no reason to move away from what’s working.
|Rushing First Downs||44||6th|
Ball’s role in the offense has been miniscule, even after Ronnie Hillman was benched, so start Moreno and have no fear.
Moreno has been the main man in the Broncos backfield.
In addition, this week’s contest against the Tennessee Titans (sixth-most favorable fantasy matchup for RBs) should result in a big week for Moreno.
Sit: Rashad Jennings
Rashad Jennings has cemented his place as the featured back in Oakland.
The good news for Jennings’ fantasy stock this week is that he’d been upgraded to probable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets:
— NFL Injury News (@NFLInjuryNws) December 7, 2013
The bad news, however, is that he’ll be playing against the New York Jets.
Only one team in the NFL is allowing fewer than three yards per carry. Likewise, only one team is giving up less than 80 rushing yards per game. Guess who that team is (Hint: They play in New Jersey, and they’re not the New York Giants)?
The Jets are the second-worst fantasy matchup for running backs, and Jennings shouldn’t even be considered as an RB2 this weekend.
Start: Kendall Wright
Kendall Wright is having a breakout season.
Kendall Wright has quietly emerged as the No. 1 receiver for the Tennessee Titans. He’s seventh in the NFL in receptions and 21st in receiving yards and has been a go-to target for whoever has been under center for the Titans.
Additionally, Wright has been a PPR monster and is a borderline WR1 in PPR leagues this week.
In Week 14, the Titans go up against the high-scoring Denver Broncos, which means Tennessee will be throwing the ball early and often.
Wright is a lock to hit six receptions and 70 yards, with a much higher ceiling given that the score will be lopsided and the Broncos defense has given up four TDs to wide receivers in the last three games.
The Baylor product will see a ton of targets, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to pad his stats and help your fantasy team this week.
Sit: Eric Decker
Decker won’t repeat his outstanding performance from last week.
We’ll stay with the Tennessee-Denver game for our WR sit. It may seem blasphemous to keep Eric Decker out of your lineup after his superhuman stat line from Week 13 (174 yards, four TDs), but he will come crashing back down to Earth.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that he’s incredibly touchdown-dependent as a fantasy producer.
|Games with TD||23.3|
|Games without TD||5.0|
He’s only posted more than 10 points in games where he’s found the end zone, and his role in the red zone has decreased with the presence of Julius Thomas (who was inactive last week for Decker’s explosion).
Thomas is probable for Sunday’s game, so Decker’s chances of scoring a touchdown are low.
— The Denver Post (@denverpost) December 7, 2013
Furthermore, part of Decker’s ridiculous Week 13 was due to the man covering him: rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper. Peyton Manning picked on Cooper relentlessly, which worked in Decker’s favor.
That won’t be the case this week, and the matchup is much more difficult against a Titans defense that is the least favorable fantasy matchup for wide receivers.
Any Broncos receiver has the potential to explode, but Decker is the lowest on the totem pole this week. Only start him if you’re desperate at the WR position.
Tight End Rankings
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