Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 14

Can you trust Mark Sanchez in the fantasy football playoffs?

For the next month, all I'll be listening to is Christmas music. I'm that guy. You've been reading content all season from that guy.

I'm really not sorry. Christmas is the best time of year, and for more than just the celebration, too. Yes, I'm excused for listening to bad music that brings a sense of nostalgia - something that's probably not excused any other time of year - but December also means something else is here: the fantasy football playoffs.

Perhaps your fantasy league's postseason doesn't start until next week, but plenty of them do begin in Week 14. Let's make some good lineup decisions, shall we?


Start Shaun Hill - Nothing says fantasy football playoffs like Shaun Hill, eh? In all seriousness though, Hill makes for a solid streaming option in Week 14 against a defense that ranks dead last against the pass, per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics. The Redskins have also allowed the most fantasy points to the quarterback position this year, including five weekly top-five performances.

You may be a little worried about Hill's floor, but every signal-caller who started against Washington has scored at least 11 fantasy points, and that low score belongs to Chad Henne. Each passer has thrown for at least one touchdown pass, too.

Sit Mark Sanchez - I would play Hill over Mark Sanchez, and so would our algorithms. The Eagles and Sanchez are fortunate to be playing at home against Seattle, but I still wouldn't trust the matchup at all. No quarterback has ranked higher than 18th in weekly scoring against Seattle since Week 5, while the average score over this time span versus the Seahawks has been an absurdly low 9.00 (median of 8.79). Sanchez has been a strong fantasy asset, but this isn't the week you want to throw him into your starting lineup.

Start Eli Manning - Did you see what Ryan Fitzpatrick did against the Titans last week? No, I'm not expecting Eli to throw six touchdowns, but he should have a strong outing. The Titans rank 26th against the pass according to Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP, and they've allowed the 18th-most fantasy points to opposing passers this season. Just hope good Eli shows up.

Sit Ben Roethlisberger - Over his past five games, Ben Roethlisberger has ranked 11th, 1st, 1st, 13th and 6th in weekly quarterback scoring. Three of those games saw 26 or more fantasy points scored, while two of them, well, we all know what he did against Indianapolis and Baltimore.

I'd still play Big Ben over standard streaming options this week, but if you're in a shallower league, starting him against the Bengals may not be smart. The Bengals, albeit against poor competition, have allowed just a little over 10 fantasy points combined to quarterbacks over the last two weeks, and haven't given up a top-10 performance since Andrew Luck faced them all the way back in Week 7. He ranked ninth.

We should expect a hefty workload for Le'Veon Bell against the 29th-ranked Cincinnati rush defense, while Ben will more than likely not see the 40-plus attempts he's thrown in three of his last four contests. After all, the Bengals are the sixth-best team versus the pass according to NEP.

Other Players to Start: Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson
Other Players to Sit: Josh McCown, Colt McCoy

Running Back

Start Rashad Jennings - If you're contemplating benching Rashad Jennings, chances are you're in a small league. There's nothing wrong with that. This week against Tennessee, as long as he plays, he should be started.

While the Titans' secondary looked dreadful last week, the rush defense is where the team's been gashed this year. They rank 28th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP and, against admittedly very good competition, have surrendered a top-eight running back week in PPR leagues to each of their last five opponents. On the year, eight different running backs have ranked eighth or better versus the Titans.

Considering he's getting the bulk of the Giants' backfield touches, if Jennings ends up going, he'll be in great shape to finish as an RB1.

Sit Alfred Morris - While everyone's been concerned about the Redskins' starting quarterback situation, Alfred Morris has put together another top-10 running back season. He's scored 11 or more PPR points over his last five games, and really only has three games worth of unusable production.

This week against the Rams could be tough, though. Only six running backs have hit the 15-point mark in PPR formats against St. Louis this year, and the front-seven now comes in as the 12th-best one in the league per NEP. Morris is going to more than likely start for your fantasy team this week, I'm aware, but just be prepared to lower expectations.

Start Darren Sproles - Seattle can stop the run, and they're a top-five run-stuffing unit this season according to our numbers. But because of the pressure they can bring, receiving backs have been able to find success. That's where Darren Sproles comes in. Seattle's allowed the third-most receptions to opposing running backs, while Sproles has seen 20 targets over his five games since returning from injury. If you're in a PPR league, don't be afraid of the little man despite what appears to be a tough matchup.

Sit Andre Ellington - Clearly you're not playing Andre Ellington if he doesn't go, but if he does, I'd still consider benching him. The only thing making him fantasy relevant right now is that he sees a ridiculous amount of volume in the passing game -- only Matt Forte, Le'Veon Bell and Shane Vereen have seen more backfield targets than Andre Ellington this year. If you're in a standard league, that doesn't matter nearly as much as it would in a PPR one.

From a matchup standpoint, the Chiefs aren't spectacular at stopping the run -- our metrics have them as the 25th-best unit in the NFL. But what's made Ellington relevant each week in PPR formats is his pass-catching ability. Kansas City's allowed the second-fewest receptions to running backs this season, a clear turn off for a guy like Ellington. He has a low floor in standard formats, but even in PPR ones, Ellington could be trouble.

Start Jonathan Stewart - There's nothing flashy about Jonathan Stewart, nor is there anything flashy about the Carolina Panthers' offense. But he's intriguing in Week 14, as the Panthers will take on a Saints' defense that's stopped the run worse than any other team in the NFL this year. J-Stew should see the majority of touches in a really inefficient backfield, but could be a sneaky start in deeper leagues thanks to having the best possible matchup out there.

Other Players to Start: Isaiah Crowell, Chris Ivory
Other Players to Sit: Darren McFadden, Matt Asiata

Wide Receiver

Start Kenny Stills - Kenny Stills is going to win fantasy championships this year.

Since Brandin Cooks' season-ending injury (two games), Stills has 13 receptions on 15 targets for 260 yards and a touchdown. He's sailed through easy opponents in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but he'll get another one this week (and in Weeks 15 and 16) against the Panthers. Carolina's pass defense ranks 23rd according to NEP, and the Panthers have surrendered the 9th-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this year. It's a perfect storm for Stills to do some work again.

Sit Eric Decker - A quick look at shows me that Eric Decker is still being started in over 18 percent of leagues. I don't understand.

Decker has a grand total of nine receptions over his last three games, ranking as a WR4 in 12-team leagues this season. The Jets will face a Vikings secondary on Sunday that's allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy tallies to opposing wideouts, coming in ranking 11th against the pass in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP. While Decker may find the end zone, there's no way I'm banking on him in the playoffs.

Start Jarvis Landry - A guy I'd feel comfortable rolling with this weekend is Jarvis Landry, who's taken over as Ryan Tannehill's favorite target in the Dolphins offense.

Landry now has a silly-high 37 targets over Miami's last four contests, and he's ranked no worse than 30th at wide receiver in weekly PPR scoring since Week 8 ended. The Jimmy Smith-less Baltimore Ravens continue to struggle against the pass, making Landry a nice option, especially in PPR leagues.

Sit John Brown - You can't feel good about playing any Arizona Cardinal. The offense is a mess, and Drew Stanton has a worse Success Rate - the percentage of plays that are deemed positive in terms of NEP - than any other quarterback in the league not on the New York Jets. That means fewer effective completions for his wide receivers, which means less opportunity due to shortened drives. With only 10 targets in his last two games combined despite a Larry Fitzgerald injury, it's not smart to play Brown.

Start Stedman Bailey - As I mentioned above with Shaun Hill, the Washington Redskins' secondary has been incredibly ineffective this season. It hasn't just helped quarterbacks though -- wide receivers are naturally seeing the effect of this too.

Washington's allowed a top-six wide receiver performance in each of their last three games, while Stedman Bailey, over his last two, has seen 15 targets, 12 receptions, 189 yards and a touchdown. It shouldn't surprise anyone if he - the man who's becoming the Rams' top receiving threat - finds success in Washington this weekend.

Other Players to Start: Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins
Other Players to Sit: Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes

Tight End

Start Heath Miller - Miller saw a crazy 14 targets against the Saints last week, finishing as a top-five tight end option in PPR leagues as a result. He now has four top-six PPR games on the year, showing us all that, despite the fact that he now runs like a dad, Miller still has a high ceiling.

The Steelers get the Bengals this week, who have generally struggled against the tight end position this year. The position is also a wasteland right now, so having a player like Miller who's bound to see five or six targets is actually kind of rare.

Sit Owen Daniels - After performing like a legitimate TE1 for a couple of weeks, Owen Daniels has slowed his pace and now has just 12 targets over his last three games. During this stretch, he's scored no more than five fantasy points - PPR ones - in a given week. The Ravens face Miami in Week 13, who defend the tight end position better than anyone in the league. In fact, no tight end has ranked higher than 11th in weekly PPR scoring versus the Dolphins.

Start Kyle Rudolph - If you start Rudolph this week, you're mostly chasing a touchdown reception. He has the right matchup to score though, as the Jets have allowed 12 tight end touchdowns this season, two more than any other team. The hope, too, is that Rudolph continues to get healthier and see more volume in the Vikings' offense. Regardless, the scoring upside is there in Week 14.

Other Players to Start: Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker
Other Players to Sit: Luke Willson, Eric Ebron


Start the Minnesota Vikings - If you want upside in a streaming defense this week, Minnesota should be your go-to. They're at home (that's the first huge plus), are a top-half defense according to our numbers (that's the second one), and will face the Jets (ding ding ding!). New York has allowed five different defenses to rank in the weekly top four in defensive scoring this season, and why would you not want to target a defense facing Geno Smith?

Sit the Seattle Seahawks - Though I've mentioned how good the Seahawks defense has been, I can't ignore the fact that Vegas sees 48.5 points being scored in this contest, with the Eagles being favored. If the game was being played in Seattle, I'd be all good with a fantasy owner starting them. In Philadelphia, however, I'd look elsewhere.

Other Defenses to Start: Houston Texans, Detroit Lions
Other Players to Sit: San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills