Start or Sit: Week 14
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Fergie and Jesus: A Voice of an Angel (Solid Starts)Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan’s Falcons are traveling to Lambeau this week to take on the Packers, a squad that’s ranked in the bottom six against the pass on a per play basis according to our Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points metric.
Ryan should provide a nice floor this week, as the Packers have allowed double-digit fantasy days to every single quarterback they’ve faced this season. Even Eli posted a 13.5 fantasy point day on them – his third-best of the season (that should make any owner of a New York Giants player upset).Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Since becoming the starter in Week 9, Nick Foles hasn’t scored fewer than 22.6 standard fantasy points. That’s four straight games of high-end QB1 numbers, folks.
For some reason, the man is still owned in just 74.5% of ESPN.com leagues. I know there are dead leagues out there, but that still leaves room for active ones as well.
The Eagles get the Lions this week, who have been relatively bad at stopping the pass. Before facing Matt Flynn last week, Detroit had surrendered 16 passing touchdowns in the 6 games prior, with the worst of those performances being a 16.2-point one from Mike Glennon.
Foles is a top-10 quarterback this week according to our analytics. You at least know that he won’t throw a pick (jinxed), right?Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
Lacy hit the Detroit Lions defensive line brick wall last week, toting the rock 10 times for just 16 yards on Thanksgiving day. This week, however, things should change. A lot.
Lacy will face the league’s worst total defense, and one that ranks as the fourth-worst one against the rush according to our Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points metric. Over the last six games, Atlanta (that really bad defense I was just talking about) has allowed at least 109 running back rushing yards and seven running back touchdowns. Moreover, team backs have reached 180 yards in four of those contests.
Lacy didn’t eat on Thanksgiving, but he should this weekend.Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
Since returning from injury, Andre Brown has scored no fewer than 10.8 half-point PPR points, including three touchdowns and two 100-plus rushing yard performances. Though San Diego, his Week 14 opponent, has allowed a respectable number of fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, they still rank dead last against the run according to our analytics on a per rush basis. Brown should be solid yet again.DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You know who runs poorly against Chicago's defense? No one. Not one running back.
Murray had a big game on Thanksgiving, getting 17 carries and scoring on three of them. Against Chicago, I don't care how inefficient he is: he's going to produce. The Bears have allowed at least 123 running back rushing yards to every team they've faced since Week 6, including multiple running back touchdowns in four of those contests. Murray should have a great week.Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Though he crushed his head against the ground on Thanksgiving night (I was there to see it live, and it was even uglier at the stadium), Bell may be able to go after being a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. If he does indeed play, he’ll have the fortune of playing against a rush defense that ranks fifth-to-last against the run on a per play basis.
Though Le’Veon hasn’t had crazy efficiency ratings, he’s been a volume back with a lot to offer in the receiving game. Since his first NFL start in Week 4, Bell has scored fewer than 10 fantasy points just once in half-point PPR leagues.Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Minnesota has allowed the fourth-most points to pretend pigskin wide receivers this year, including at least one wide receiver touchdown in every game outside of Week 1.
The big play receiver in Tampa has just five catches over his last two games, half of his total from Week 11 against Atlanta. However, he’s still posted 61 and 75 yards respectively, and is always one who can break a big one.
He’ll face the Bills this week, a team that’s handed over yards to opposing wide receivers this year. Though the Bills are decent in terms of NEP against the pass, they’ve allowed more points to opposing fantasy receivers than all but one squad. Because of that,Jackson’s our 10th-ranked receiver for Week 14.DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s another Jackson who isn’t afraid of the long ball, but this one plays in Philly. DeSean won’t always get you those 8- to 10-catch days, but he’s always a candidate for a deep play. Against Detroit, he should be able to feast on a secondary that, before last week against Matt Flynn, had allowed 16 wide receiver touchdowns in their previous eight games.
Turning Beds into Bunk Beds: So Many Activities! (Sneaky Starts)Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Starting Joe Flacco in the fantasy football playoffs feels a little dirty, but so does not starting a quarterback facing the Minnesota Vikings secondary. So far this year, the Vikes have given up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and are the fifth-to-worst team, says our analytics, at stopping air attacks on a per play basis.
Flacco’s best game since Week 9 came last week against Pittsburgh, and he posted just 14.7 fantasy points. But you have to trust the matchup here, and hope that Flacco’s home game serves him well.E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Manuel’s last two weeks have been identical, posting 18.7 fantasy points. That’s typically good for high-end QB2/low-end QB1 production, which is great considering you’ve picked him up off the wire.
I think he can reach that mark again this week, as Tampa Bay’s secondary has been performing poorly of late. Since their Week 5 bye, they’ve allowed at least two passing touchdowns in every performance, with the lowest yardage total coming from Russell Wilson in Week 9 (217 yards). If Manuel keeps up that pace, his floor looks to be around 15 standard points.Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton had the best matchup you could’ve asked for last week, but came through with just 10.5 pretend pigskin tallies. Remember when everyone was excited for him after his 11 touchdowns in three games, and us folks at numberFire told you not to get overly optimistic about it? Well, this is why. This is Andy Dalton.
Despite his recent mediocre play, Dalton’s got an opportunity to get back on track against a Colts secondary that’s allowed 57.50 more points through the air than they should have this year, ranking them 25th in the league against the pass when adjusted for strength of schedule. He’s a solid play, especially if he’s on the waiver wire.Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Rice still ranks as numberFire’s worst running back this season, but has a nice matchup this week against a Vikings defense that has allowed the second-most points to opposition running backs this season. Though he’s topped 45 rushing yards just twice this year (yuck), Rice could see the end zone, and will be a part of the passing game. If you’re desperate, you could do worse.Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Cleveland Browns
In PPR leagues, Silent G should be given at least somewhat of a look this week against a Patriots rush defense that ranks in the bottom five against the rush when adjusted for strength of opponent.
He’s been the most efficient Cleveland running back – by far – this year, and has a cool 10 receptions over his last three games. If he can find the end zone – something he’s done just twice this year – we could see him in the top 20 at the running back position at week’s end.Rod Streater, WR, Oakland Raiders
No, his ceiling isn’t unbelievably high, but he’s facing a really nice matchup this week against a vulnerable Jets secondary. New York has now allowed nine receiver touchdowns in five weeks, and they've faced middling pass offenses like Miami, Baltimore and Buffalo.
Streater becomes Matt McGloin’s top target if Moore sits out, and should feast against a team that defends the run much better than the pass.Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
White finally made patient fantasy owners smile last week, catching 10 passes for 143 yards against the Bills. He’s still a risk because we haven’t seen enough of this type of production from him, but he’s a sneaky start versus the Packers poor pass defense. In three of their last five games, the Pack have allowed at least two touchdowns to wide receivers. Let’s go, Roddy – this is when we need you most.Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
Mike Wallace will be greeted by loud boos as he makes his return to Heinz Field, but there’s potential for him to have the last laugh. The Steelers gave up deep balls to Baltimore last week, and have been average at best against the pass all season long.
Wallace looks to finally be taking on a bigger role in the Dolphins offense, catching 12 passes for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. He’s not a horrible play against Ike Taylor and this Steelers’ secondary. Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
There are some nice tight end streaming options this week, and it starts with Jared Cook. In Week 1, Cook – like any other tight end who faces Arizona – torched the Cardinals secondary, catching seven balls for 141 yards and two scores. His fantasy total that day in half-point PPR leagues now accounts for over 28% of his season-long total.
He’s not a sure bet, as his season has been anything but secure. However, if there’s a week to play Cook, it’s certainly this one.Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Walker suffered a concussion in the first quarter of last week’s game, one that was matchup heaven for the Titans’ tight end. Excluding that game, Walker has averaged nine targets per contest with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, making him a great tight end option. Against the Broncos, who’ve allowed the third-most points to the position, Walker is even more attractive.
Monitor his playing status because, if he does play, he could fight for top-five tight end status.Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago Bears
The Black Unicorn posted a dud last week against the Vikings, but has a nice matchup against the Cowboys this week. Though they only allowed two tight end catches last week against Oakland, Dallas is used to giving up four or five of them per game. Because of that, Bennett’s our ninth-best tight end option in fake football this week.
Defense to Start: Oakland Raiders (vs. New York Jets)
Getting Sweaty From Watching Cops: Gross (Risky Starts)Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Luck owners aren’t happy right now. Though he’s still the seventh-best fantasy quarterback in the league, much of that has to do with three games of 24.8 or more points. Really, Luck has been a low-end QB1 from a week-to-week basis this year.
He’s had three very tough matchups in a row against Arizona and Tennessee (twice). The Titans haven’t given up a passing touchdown since Week 4, and regardless of who they’re playing, that’s incredibly impressive.
Luck will face Mike Zimmer’s defense in Cincinnati this week – one that ranks seventh against opposing quarterbacks this season in fantasy, and one that’s third-best against the pass according to our metrics. If you own Luck, you may want to look at one of the quarterbacks above to get you through the first round of the playoffs.Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Though the 49ers clash against Seattle will be played in San Francisco, it’s difficult to like anything about this matchup for Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks are down in the secondary, but that didn’t matter against Drew Brees and the Saints. I’m sure it won’t matter against Colin Kaepernick too, who’s been just above average this season through the air.
The highest fantasy total the Seahawks have allowed this year to a quarterback was the 18.1 game they gave up to Andrew Luck back in Week 5. I’ll pass on Kaepernick this week, our 25th-ranked quarterback.Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
The last time Gore faced Seattle, he rushed nine times for 16 yards, his lowest fantasy output of the 2013 season.
And although that was in Seattle and things should be a little easier on him this week, his performances of late haven’t really brought us much confidence in him. He has just one game over 75 rushing yards since Week 7, including three straight games of fewer than 50 yards. If not for a touchdown last week, Gore would be in the fantasy football doghouse.
If you’re a playoff team, hopefully you’ve got the depth to bench Gore for someone with more upside.Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders
The Jets rush defense has been beastly all season long, coming in as the third-best in the league on a per rush basis behind only Detroit in Denver. Jennings, who is the clear-cut starter in Oakland, may have trouble finding holes. He’s been a surprising fantasy back since Darren McFadden went down, but has accumulated just over 100 yards rushing on 33 carries over his last two games – games against two below-average rush defenses.C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
As I mentioned with Eddie Lacy above, the Falcons rush defense has been tremendously bad against anything this year, which is the biggest reason C.J. Spiller was able to go bonkers against them last week.
In Week 14, Spiller gets Tampa Bay, who surprisingly ranks eighth against fantasy running backs this year. According to our advanced analytics, they’re an above average run-stopping team as well.
Spiller’s still a risky play despite his great game last week.Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
The roller coaster season continues with Colston, who was held to just four catches for 27 yards against the Seahawks on Monday night. He’s scored just one time since Week 1, and although he’s finally getting consistent reception totals, his matchup this week doesn’t seem to have the upside you’d want from a player who’s been up-and-down all season long. If you haven’t heard, Carolina has a great defense. That’s why you should bench Colston.T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Things won’t be getting any easier against the Bengals this week. The AFC North leaders have given up the ninth-fewest points to opposing wideouts this year, and have allowed just two receiver touchdowns since Week 7. Hilton’s tough to bench because he’s the top option in the Colts offense, but lower your expectations.
Wrestling a Giraffe With Your Bare Hands: Bad Idea (Bad Starts)Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
In his five games since coming back from injury, J-Stew has gathered 47 rushing attempts – 9.4 per game – but has yet to rush for more than 43 yards in a single contest. Given the Panthers use of Mike Tolbert close to the goal line, Stewart shouldn’t be on your radar this week against New Orleans.Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
It’s almost a given at this point that Darren McFadden is going to get hurt, isn’t it? Not only did he miss Weeks 10-12 with a hamstring injury, but now he’s evidently got an ankle issue, which could keep him out this week. He shouldn’t be rostered anymore given the emergence of Rashad Jennings anyway. And DMC probably won’t be a Raider next year, so why would they want to throw him out there?Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin has caught two passes since Week 3 – one in both of the contests he’s played in – and is still owned in 66.3% of ESPN.com leagues. Why? Can this please stop? Don’t play him unless you’re in one of those 24-team, start six wide receivers leagues.Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
Julian Edelman has outplayed Danny Amendola this season, and it’s not even close. The ex-Ram has just two games – half-point PPR games, too – of over 10 fantasy points, and in the five games where he didn’t reach that total, he’s never had more than 55 receiving yards. He’s not worth it anymore in 2013.Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
The pair of Cincinnati tight ends have four catches over their last two contests combined. Though everyone loves Eifert’s upside, neither of these tight ends can be trusted, especially during the playoffs.
Defense to Sit: Carolina Panthers (vs. New Orleans Saints)