Fantasy Football Start, Sit, Stream, or Fade: Week 14

2020 has been a year of chaos and discombobulation -- whatever the norm was, it's long been thrown out the window. However, despite all the pandemonium, the one thing that's bound to be a constant is the need to make fantasy football lineup decisions.

That need is about to be magnified significantly with most leagues entering the postseason. One bad decision and all of your season's work goes down the drain. No pressure.

If you had a good season, you should have some tough lineup decisions to make this week. If you don't have any tough lineup decisions, there's a good chance that your bench is thinner than LeBron James' hairline. The goal of this piece is to assist with some of those decisions.

Of course, leagues come in all shapes and sizes, so it's near impossible to tackle every start-or-sit scenario. A must-start for one team could be a bench option in another league.

With all that being said, we're here to help at numberFire! This column will try to highlight some of those tough lineup decisions you have to make every week, and will, hopefully, be able to sway you in one direction or another. In this piece, we'll be utilizing our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric (i.e., the expected points added on any given play), read more about it here.

Without further ado, let's get onto the best and worst plays of the week. We'll break down players into four categories, though the definitions will be a tad different since I'll be attempting to cover most fantasy-relevant players this week:

Start: These players should be started with confidence.
Stream: These will be players with either A) good matchups or higher-than-usual projected volume or B) players with guaranteed volume who are neither lineup locks nor fades.
Fade: This category will be reserved for higher-end fantasy studs who find themselves in a bad spot on that given week. Fade these players in DFS or if you have a loaded roster, but don't get too cute in season-long -- just because these players should be faded relative to their usual value doesn't mean you should bench them for a scrub. If your start finds himself in the fade section, you might want to find more upside at other spots in your lineup to make up for his likely depressed ceiling.
Sit: This category will feature players that should ride the pine unless you truly have no better options.

Given that this is the playoffs, I'm expanding this column to include as many plays as I can write about before my hand becomes a permanent part of the keyboard -- only the most obvious of obvious plays will be excluded. Let's get to it!

(When I reference fantasy points allowed, it is Yahoo settings for quarterbacks and half-PPR for the other positions.)



Russell Wilson (vs. NYJ) - You might be thinking "No shit, Sherlock" right about now, but those who roster Wilson know that he hasn't been the same fantasy stud over his last four games. After exceeding 26 fantasy points in seven of his first eight outings (he dropped 22.9 in the only game he failed to reach 26), Wilson has topped out at 20.1 over his last four. To those managers who are feeling uneasy about Russ, take solace in the fact that he is going to cook in Week 14. The New York Jets are one of the league's prime pass-funnel defenses -- they rank 31st in adjusted pass defense and 9th in adjusted run defense. On the season, New York has ceded the third-most fantasy points and second-most opportunities (passes plus rush attempts) to opposing signal-callers. They've already surrendered 24.6 or more fantasy points to a quarterback six times in 2020. Wilson managers should be salivating at his week-winning potential to open the postseason.

Ryan Tannehill (at Jacksonville) - I had Tannehill as a start in last week's column, and he rewarded us by amassing 26.6 fantasy points. Well, he's in an even better spot this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Through Week 13, Jacksonville ranks 10th-worst in adjusted pass defense, and they've ceded the third-most fantasy points to the position. Seven quarterbacks have managed at least 22.1 fantasy points in this spot, including Tannehill in Week 2, when he gobbled up 26.8. Given that the Tennessee Titans have the second-highest implied total on the entire slate, Tanny could be in for a doozy.

Tom Brady (vs. Minnesota) - Over their last five games, only four teams have given up fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Minnesota Vikings -- they've given off the illusion of having a defense to stay away from in fantasy. I say "illusion" because a closer look shows that they've gone up against a banged-up Matthew Stafford, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater, and Mike Glennon -- not exactly a who's who list of quarterbacks. Prior to that stretch, Minnesota had surrendered at least 20.9 fantasy points to a passer in five of their seven contests. Brady hasn't been the most consistent fantasy option this season, though he has recorded at least 22.5 six times. In a game that should have the fastest pace on the slate (per Brandon Gdula's pace stats for the last five weeks), Brady makes for an excellent start.

Definitely start: Justin Herbert (vs. ATL), Lamar Jackson (at CLE), Ben Roethlisberger (at BUF).


Philip Rivers (at Las Vegas) - In Rivers' first five games, he failed to top 16.8 fantasy points even once. In the seven games since, he's posted at least 18.8 five times. This week, he'll square off with a Las Vegas Raiders team that ranks eighth-worst in adjusted pass defense. Vegas has also allowed the 9th-most opportunities and 10th-most fantasy points to the position. In fact, since Week 4, the Raiders have ceded at least 22.5 fantasy points five times, and they're also fresh off allowing a 19-point performance to Sam Darnold of all people. The Indianapolis Colts are implied for a healthy 27.25 points, so Rivers should be able to rack up a good fantasy outing.

Taysom Hill (at Philadelphia) - The Philadelphia Eagles being the 11th-stingiest team against quarterbacks in fantasy might scare you off Hill, but it shouldn't. Philly has allowed more than 20 fantasy points to a passer seven times this season, and they've surrendered more than 60 rushing yards to a quarterback three times since Week 6. Hill has averaged 55 rush yards over his last five outings, and he's been responsible for at least two scores in each of his three starts.

Mitchell Trubisky (vs. Houston) - Before you start gagging on this one, consider the juicy matchup Trubisky has. The Houston Texans rank fifth-worst in adjusted pass defense, and they've yielded at least 19 fantasy points to a quarterback in six of their last seven non-hurricane games. Meanwhile, Trubisky has topped 15 fantasy points in three of his five starts this season. He's worth a look in deeper leagues.

Other options: Andy Dalton (at CIN), Kirk Cousins (at TB), Mike Glennon (vs. TEN), Matt Ryan (at LAC), Sam Darnold (at SEA), Daniel Jones (vs. ARI).


Josh Allen (vs. Pittsburgh) - As ESPN's Matthew Berry pointed out, Allen has struggled at times this season with John Brown either banged-up or out. A matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers won't help matters. Pittsburgh ranks third-best in adjusted pass defense and they've allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers. Dating back to Week 3 of last season, only one quarterback has surpassed 19.4 fantasy points against the Steelers. I'm fading Allen this week.

Jalen Hurts (vs. New Orleans) - Hurts might be a popular play in his first career start, but there's plenty of reason to fade the rookie. The New Orleans Saints enter Week 14 ranking fourth in adjusted pass defense. Through 12 games, New Orleans has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points and only 75 rush yards to quarterbacks. After ceding more than 20 fantasy points to a passer in each of their first five games, the Saints haven't allowed a quarterback to reach that number in any game since. Hurts will likely need rushing upside to present a safe floor, and it's unlikely that he possesses that this week.

Also fade: Kyler Murray (at NYG), Deshaun Watson (at CHI), Matthew Stafford (vs. GB).


Cam Newton (at LAR) - In 2020, the Los Angeles Rams ranks first in adjusted total and pass defense, as well as sixth in run defense. Los Angeles has ceded the second-fewest fantasy points to the position, and since Week 10, they've held Wilson, Brady, and Murray to an average of 14.6 fantasy points. While Cam did manage 23.6 fantasy points in Week 13, he should find it much tougher to produce against this defense.

Jared Goff (vs. New England) - After recording 24.1 fantasy points last week, Goff is now averaging 21.8 on the road versus just 11.1 at home. Home/road splits aren't enough reason to sit someone, but a matchup with the New England Patriots is. To date, New England ranks ninth-best in adjusted pass defense and they've surrendered the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position.

Consider sitting: Derek Carr (vs. IND), Teddy Bridgewater (vs. DEN), Baker Mayfield (vs. BAL), Tua Tagovailoa (vs. KC).

Running Back


David Montgomery (vs. Houston) - After piling up a number of disappointing performances to start the season, Montgomery is finally matching his fantasy production to the opportunities he's been getting. In his last two games, the 23-year-old has compiled 254 total yards, 3 scores, and 47.9 half-PPR points. In Week 14, he gets a matchup with a Texans team surrendering the second-most fantasy points to opposing backfields. Houston also ranks eighth-worst in adjusted run defense, and they've allowed the most touches to the running back position. Montgomery and his 19.1 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game should be able to feast in this matchup.

Jonathan Taylor (at Las Vegas) - It's happening! Taylor is finally getting the RB1 workload and production we expected when Marlon Mack went down. In his last two games, Taylor has totaled 42 opportunities, 249 yards, and a touchdown while seeing snap shares of 55% and 48%. That success should continue against a Raiders defense that ranks second-worst against the run. Despite the fact that they're only middle-of-the-pack in touches allowed to the position, Vegas has yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs. Nine runners have managed at least 15 half-PPR points against this defense. Taylor is an RB1 this week.

Myles Gaskin (vs. Kansas City) - The only team that ranks worse than the Raiders in adjusted run defense are the Kansas City Chiefs. The nine running backs that have garnered at least 15 opportunities against the Chiefs have posted an average of 16.6 half-PPR points. Meanwhile, Gaskin has averaged 21.8 opportunities over his last six outings. Look for the Miami Dolphins to lean on Gaskin as they try to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense off the field.
(Update: Gaskin was placed on the COVID-19 list and will miss Sunday's game.)

Definitely start: Aaron Jones (at DET), James Robinson (vs. TEN), Austin Ekeler (vs. ATL), Nick Chubb (vs. BAL), Melvin Gordon (at CAR), James Conner (at BUF).


Wayne Gallman (vs. Arizona) - Fantasy football's RB6 since Week 7 is in another great spot in Week 14. The New York Giants will be taking on the Arizona Cardinals, who rank 10th-worst in adjusted run defense this season. In their last four games alone, Arizona has allowed four backs to exceed 14 half-PPR points against them. Gallman is averaging 14.9 over his last six games.

Cam Akers (vs. New England) - Have we finally reached the day where Rams head coach Sean McVay has committed to one back? Perhaps. Akers saw a 63% snap share in Week 13 as well as a 69% share of the running back opportunities. He turned those into 94 total yards and a tuddy. It was his second consecutive game with more than 80 yards and a score. Now, Akers will go up against a Pats defense that ranks eighth-worst against the run.

J.D. McKissic (at San Francisco) - When Antonio Gibson went down with a toe injury last week, McKissic stepped up and saw his second-highest snap share in his third-most opportunities in a game this season. McKissic managed to turn those opportunities into a respectable 12.8 half-PPR points. Now he'll face a San Francisco 49ers team that's yielded the ninth-most receiving yards and fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks.

Other options: Chris Carson (vs. NYJ), Ezekiel Elliott (at CIN), Ronald Jones (vs. MIN), D'Andre Swift (vs. GB), J.K. Dobbins (at CLE), Kenyan Drake (at NYG), Ty Johnson (at SEA), Nyheim Hines (at LV), Jamaal Williams (at DET), Chase Edmonds (at NYG).


Dalvin Cook (at Tampa Bay) - Yeah, that's right. I've got fantasy's RB1 as a fade this week. That's because the Vikings are squaring off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that ranks first in adjusted run defense. On the season, Tampa has conceded the fourth-fewest fantasy points and second-fewest touches to opposing backs. No runner has topped 15.4 half-PPR points against this defense since Week 2, and that's despite the fact that they've faced Aaron Jones, Josh Jacobs, and Alvin Kamara during that stretch. Both Kamara and Christian McCaffrey did top 20 fantasy points in the first two weeks of the season, but both players got there by scoring twice. Tampa has only surrendered six tuddies in the 10 games since. This season, Cook has faced three teams inside the top-14 in adjusted run defense and posted 14.1, 17.4, and 13.2 half-PPR points in those contests. There's no doubt that both his floor and ceiling are lower for this matchup. If you rely on Cook's ridiculous ceiling on a weekly basis, you might want to consider chasing upside at other spots in your lineup.

Alvin Kamara (at Philadelphia) - While his matchup isn't quite as tough, Kamara's in the same boat as Cook for a variety of reasons. First, there's his usage with Hill behind center. In his last three games, Kamara has averaged 11 fantasy points while totaling a measly 6 targets. After seeing more than 3 targets in all but 9 of his previous 54 career games, Kamara has garnered 1, 2, and 3 looks in his three games with Hill starting. Unless the passing-game work does pick up, Kamara could struggle to produce RB1 numbers against a Philly defense that ranks 12th-best against the run.

Also fade: Kareem Hunt (vs. BAL), Raheem Mostert (vs. WAS), David Johnson (at CHI), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (at MIA), Latavius Murray (at PHI).


Miles Sanders (vs. New Orleans) - This is painful to write, but the time has come. Since he returned in Week 10, Sanders has averaged a mere 6.6 half-PPR points. It's been even worse in his last two, as Sanders has managed just 20 opportunities and 6.4 fantasy points -- mind you, this was against teams that have ceded the ninth- and third-most fantasy points to the position. While the change to Hurts certainly can't hurt (get it?), it's tough to justify starting Sanders if you have other viable options. And let's remember, it took head coach Doug Pederson 13 weeks to make the quarterback change, and this is the same guy who's currently playing Alshon Jeffery's corpse over Travis Fulgham. Oh, and before I forget, Sanders is going up against a Saints team that's surrendered the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.

All New England RBs (at LAR) - Remember how I mentioned that the Rams rank first in adjusted total defense this season? Well, that extends to the running game, as well. Since Week 3, no back has exceeded 12.8 half-PPR points against the Rams, and only three have managed to achieve double-digits. Whether it's Damien Harris or James White, I'd keep them on my bench for this one.

Consider sitting: Giovani Bernard (vs. DAL), Devin Singletary and Zack Moss (vs. PIT), Devontae Booker (vs. IND), Todd Gurley (at LAC), Leonard Fournette (vs. MIN).

Wide Receiver


Chris Godwin (vs. Minnesota) - I could've justified placing any of Tampa's wideouts here, but given Minnesota's vulnerability to those lined up in the slot, I'll roll with Godwin. On the season, Minnesota has yielded the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts -- 16 receivers have managed at least 10.9 half-PPR points, including 9 with 15.9 or more. Godwin has averaged 13.6 over his last three outings, though this is a far friendlier matchup than any of those games were.

Terry McLaurin (at San Francisco) - Did Week 13's dud scare you off from throwing McLaurin into your lineup this week? Well, it shouldn't. Over the last five weeks, the Steelers have surrendered the fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts -- during that same stretch, the Niners have ceded the fifth-most. Since Week 5, San Fran has allowed double-digit half-PPR points to a wideout 13 times, including 14 or more 7 times. Look for Scary Terry to get back on track this week.

Corey Davis (at Jacksonville) - Over their last five games, the Jaguars have given up 79 receptions, 1,035 yards, and 8 touchdowns to wide receivers. Nine wideouts have recorded at least 13.9 half-PPR points just during that stretch. Wowza. Now, I don't need to write up a paragraph about A.J. Brown, but Corey Davis is also an excellent play this week. Davis has garnered at least seven looks in 5 of his 10 contests this season, and he's topped 11 half-PPR points six times. In fact, he has scored fewer than 8.5 just once all season. As long as Jacksonville can avoid a blowout right out of the gate, Davis should have a nice ceiling in this one.

Definitely start: Keenan Allen (vs. ATL), Calvin Ridley (at LAC), Allen Robinson (vs. HOU), DeAndre Hopkins (at NYG), Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen (at TB), Tyler Lockett (vs. NYJ), Cooper Kupp (vs. NE), Mike Evans (vs. MIN), Stefon Diggs (vs. PIT), Robby Anderson (vs. DEN), Deebo Samuel (vs. WAS).


Cole Beasley (vs. Pittsburgh) - While the Steelers have had their moments against wideouts over the last two seasons, they've been far from fantastic against the slot in 2020. Players like Randall Cobb (17.5 half-PPR points), CeeDee Lamb (15.1), Willie Snead (13.1), and Greg Ward (10.6) all had success against this secondary. Meanwhile, Beasley has had 10.5 or more fantasy points in 5 of his last 10 games, and he's averaged 8.3 targets and 14.2 half-PPR points in the four games John Brown has missed this season. He's a plug-and-play high-end WR3.

T.Y. Hilton (at Las Vegas) - It's officially T.Y. Hilton time in Indianapolis. After failing to reach double-digit half PPR points in any of his first nine games, Hilton has posted 16.1 and 21.0 in his last two. However, the most encouraging thing about Hilton's recent outburst is the fact that he saw a whopping 51.7% of his team's air yards in Week 13 -- good for second-highest in the league. The matchup is a good one against a Raiders squad that's yielded 14 or more fantasy points six wideouts over their last seven games.

Keke Coutee (at Chicago) - After allowing double-digit fantasy points to a wideout just five times in his first eight games, the Chicago Bears have allowed seven receivers to exceed 10 in their last four games -- including five with more than 15. Enter Coutee, who totaled 8 receptions for 141 yards in his first outing without Will Fuller in the lineup. In Week 13, Coutee finished ninth among all receivers in air yards, fifth in air yards per targets (min. two receptions), and sixth in average separation, according to Next Gen Stats. Coutee should get plenty of work once again in Week 14.

Other options: Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb (at CIN), Brandin Cooks (at CHI), Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster (at BUF), Brandon Aiyuk (vs. WAS), D.J. Chark (vs. TEN), Antonio Brown (vs. MIN), Tyler Boyd (vs. DAL), Greg Ward (vs. NO), Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy (at CAR), Michael Pittman Jr. (at LV), Mike Williams (vs. ATL), Allen Lazard (at DET), Christian Kirk (at NYG).


Jarvis Landry (vs. Baltimore) - After not exceeding 10.8 half-PPR points in any of his first 10 outings, Landry has finally picked up his play over his last two games, totaling 24.3 and 16.2 points on 11 and 10 targets, respectively. He'll be hard-pressed to keep up that kind of production against the Baltimore Ravens and star slot corner Marlon Humphrey. This season, Baltimore has allowed more than 10.2 half-PPR points to a wideout 11 times, though just one of those instances were by a receiver who lines up primarily in the slot (JuJu in Week 12). Landry is merely a low-end WR3 for this one.

All New York Jets WRs (at Seattle) - While the Seattle Seahawks still sit atop the list of most fantasy points allowed to wideouts, this is no longer a gimme. Over the last five weeks, only seven teams have conceded fewer fantasy points to the position than Seattle, and the only wideout to exceed 10.2 points against this defense over their last four games was Josh Reynolds in Week 10. It's possible that one New York wideout will have a viable fantasy performance, though it's tough to predict which one it'll be -- Jamison Crowder has had outputs of 4.6 and 19.2 in his last two, Denzel Mims hasn't exceeded 8.7 in any game, and Breshad Perriman is fresh off a 2.1-point performance in Week 13.

Also fade: Michael Thomas (at PHI), Robert Woods (vs. NE), Chase Claypool (at BUF), Marquise Brown (at CLE), Sterling Shepard (vs. ARI).


DeVante Parker (vs. Kansas City) - The move back to Tua was bad enough for Parker's fantasy value, but this matchup is going to lower his ceiling even more. On the season, Kansas City has ceded the second-fewest fantasy points to the opposition's receivers. It's tough to envision Parker having much upside in this game with Tua behind center.

Curtis Samuel (vs. DEN) - If Samuel is active for this one (he was deemed a close contact with D.J. Moore, who tested positive), I'd keep him on the bench, even with Moore out. First, a CMC return would spell the end to any rushing value Samuel might have. Second, Denver has consistently been tough against the slot this season. Last week, Denver became just the second team to limit Tyreek Hill to fewer than 13 fantasy points this season. There's also the fact that we might not know until close to gameday if Samuel will be active, which doesn't help matters.
(With CMC not expected to play, Samuel is back on the radar for Week 14.)

Consider sitting: Marvin Jones (vs. GB), Tee Higgins (vs. DAL), Nelson Agholor and Henry Ruggs (vs. IND), Jakobi Meyers (at LAR), Michael Gallup (at CIN), Rashard Higgins (vs. BAL), Jalen Reagor (vs. NO).

Tight End


Mark Andrews (at Cleveland) - Managers who spent a premium pick on Andrews are probably quite frustrated at this point -- he finally started producing after weeks of underwhelming performances, and then he was forced to miss two outings due to COVID-19. However, don't let that frustration cloud your judgment for Week 14 -- he's in a great spot. Andrews will be going up against a Browns defense that's surrendered the second-most fantasy points to tight ends over the last five weeks. Since Week 10, a tight end has totaled more than 8.5 half-PPR points five times against this defense, and five tight ends have surpassed 11 fantasy points against them this season. In his last three matchups against Cleveland, Andrews has recorded 11.1, 24.3, and 20.3 fantasy points. He's a top-five option this week.

Eric Ebron (at Buffalo) - Ebron has quietly been one of the more consistent options at the position over the last two months. He's had at least eight half-PPR points in six of his last seven games, and although that may not seem like much, it's all you can ask for at a shitfest of a position. Over his last three games, Ebron has racked up 29 targets, which ranks only behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller during that stretch. This week, Ebron will face a Buffalo squad that's ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to the position this season. Tight ends have racked up double-digit half-PPR points against the Bills six times since Week 7 alone.

Mike Gesicki (vs. Kansas City) - Gesicki is another tight end who's been incredibly frustrating to roster but is finally coming out of his shell. The 25-year-old has posted 10.5 and 19.3 half-PPR points in his last two games after reaching double-digits just once in his previous eight contests. It was encouraging to see him get 11 looks from Tua last week, as he's likely to see another bundle of looks in this week's matchup with the Chiefs. Kansas City has yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to wideouts, but they've been far more giving to tight ends. Over the last five weeks, the defending champs have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to the position. On the season, the Chiefs have allowed six tight ends to score more than 9 half-PPR points, including four with 11 or more.

Logan Thomas (at San Francisco) - Gibson's injury last week had a trickle-down effect which included even more dump-offs to Logan Thomas. Thomas tied a career-high with 9 targets, and set new career-bests with 9 receptions and 98 yards. What's even more encouraging is that he did that against a Steelers team that had surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to the position coming in. In fact, Thomas put up 12.6 more half-PPR points than any tight end has recorded against this defense since Week 2. Sure, the matchup this week is a tough one, but if Thomas gets a similar workload as he did in Week 13, we don't need to care.

Other starts/streams: Hunter Henry (vs. ATL), Robert Tonyan (at DET), Rob Gronkowski (vs. MIN), Dalton Schultz (at CIN), Jordan Reed (vs. WAS), Jordan Akins (at CHI), Anthony Firkser (at JAC), Irv Smith Jr. (at TB).


Tyler Higbee (vs. New England) - After he tied his season-high with 6 targets and recorded 24 yards and a score on those looks, you might be tempted to stream Higbee this week -- I'd urge you to resist that temptation. On the season, the Pats have ceded double-digit fantasy points to a tight end just once. And before you start thinking that they haven't played anyone, keep in mind that they've limited Kelce to 8.5, Waller to 1.9, Kittle to 8.0, and Henry to 1.0. Leave Higbee on your waiver wire for Week 14.

Austin Hooper (vs. Baltimore) - I'm not going to spend any time talking about matchups here, because it doesn't matter -- Hooper isn't worth a start no matter who he's going up against. This season, Hooper has topped 8.3 half-PPR points once, and that came way back in Week 4. The 26-year-old has seen just two looks in three of his last four games -- not great, Bob!

Other fades/sits: Evan Engram (vs. ARI), Dallas Goedert (vs. NO), Noah Fant (at CAR), Hayden Hurst (at LAC), Kyle Rudolph (at TB), Jared Cook (at PHI).