Week 14 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Can the Buccaneers' Big Names Score Fantasy Points in San Francisco?

Another season of fantasy football, another trove of start-or-sit scenarios to answer.

It's not just enough to draft the right team and make the right moves off the waiver wire, no. We all know that. We also have to make sure that we are starting the right players each week.

Of course, we have our studs, anchors, and the players we're starting virtually no matter what. We don't need anyone to tell us to start Travis Kelce. But, the further down the lineup we go, the more those questions trickle in.

Then again, no player is a "must-sit" in every scenario, and perhaps the WR3 you've been plugging in each week may have a better alternative.

To answer the question, "Should I sit Player X," depends on the answer to the question, "Who can you start instead?" That's why I like to switch up the typical start-or-sit column format. I'm going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

Take some of the guesswork out of setting our lineups weekly, I'll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire's player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances), and higher on the list means more startable.

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.

Note: Injuries impact projections and will be forecast as best as possible, but be sure to check out numberFire's updated fantasy football projections closer to kickoff and track NFL player news updates.


Start With Confidence
- Josh Allen vs. NYJ (74%)
- Jalen Hurts at NYG (73%)
- Patrick Mahomes at DEN (69%)
- Joe Burrow vs. CLE (68%)
- Tua Tagovailoa at LAC (64%)
- Dak Prescott vs. HOU (61%)
- Justin Herbert vs. MIA (57%)
- Kirk Cousins at DET (55%)
- Geno Smith vs. CAR (50%)
Consider If Needed
- Jared Goff vs. MIN (49%)
- Kyler Murray vs. NE (49%)
- Deshaun Watson at CIN (49%)
- Derek Carr at LA (42%)
- Trevor Lawrence at TEN (39%)
- Tyler Huntley at PIT (39%)
- Daniel Jones vs. PHI (39%)
- Tom Brady at SF (38%)
- Russell Wilson vs. KC (37%)
- Mac Jones at ARI (36%)
- Kenny Pickett vs. BAL (36%)
Bench If Possible
- Ryan Tannehill vs. JAC (31%)
- Mike White at BUF (29%)
- John Wolford vs. LV (29%)
- Kyle Allen at DAL (25%)
- Sam Darnold at SEA (25%)
- Brock Purdy vs. TB (22%)

Notable Injuries and Early-Week Projection Notes
- John Wolford is considered day-to-day but is likely to play on Thursday. Either he or Bryce Perkins would be low-end Tier 3 plays on a week with a clear hierarchy at quarterback. Update: it sounds as if Baker Mayfield could be activated in time to play on Thursday. Even if active, he would be a Tier 3, desperation play.

Jared Goff's Detroit Lions really aired it out last week (with a 11.4% pass rate over expectation) and now face a solid Minnesota Vikings defense in a controlled environment. The Vikings have allowed the highest completion rate over expectation of any team in the NFL, though, and that should allow Goff to chip away in this matchup. In their first meeting this season (Week 3), Goff threw 41 times for 277 yards and a touchdown but had really strong efficiency, so his QB18 outing in that could've been even better with better touchdown luck.

Tyler Huntley led the Baltimore Ravens to a Week 13 win in relief duty once Lamar Jackson left with a knee injury. Huntley recorded 187 passing yards on 32 attempts and ran 10 times for 41 yards, including three times in the red zone (a 75.0% red zone rushing share). Last season in his starts, Huntley put up 11.8, 35.9, 12.3, and 8.8 fantasy points with arguably a lot more receiving talent than he has at his disposal this time around. Huntley faces the Pittsburgh Steelers in a divisional matchup this week. He faced them in Week 18 last year with an outside chance to make the playoffs. He finished as the QB33 that week.

Although Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are winning games, they aren't doing it with elite offensive output, and Brady has consistently been just a high-end QB2 for most of the season. He did finish as the QB8 in Week 13 thanks to some last-second heroics. However, the more likely outcome is a mid-tier QB2 output against the San Francisco 49ers, who rank as a top-six D across various quarterback metrics.

Running Back

Start With Confidence
- Josh Jacobs at LA (89%)
- Derrick Henry vs. JAC (88%)
- Rhamondre Stevenson at ARI (84%)
- Christian McCaffrey vs. TB (81%)
- Saquon Barkley vs. PHI (81%)
- Austin Ekeler vs. MIA (80%)
- Dalvin Cook at DET (75%)
- Joe Mixon vs. CLE (73% at full; 36% at half)
- Kenneth Walker III vs. CAR (73% at full)
- James Conner vs. NE (71%)
- Samaje Perine vs. CLE (66% without Mixon; 22% with Mixon)
- Nick Chubb at CIN (64%)
- Jamaal Williams vs. MIN (63%)
- Travis Etienne at TEN (62%)
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. HOU (62%)
- Miles Sanders at NYG (61%)
- Jeff Wilson at LAC (60%)
Consider If Needed
- Latavius Murray vs. KC (59%)
- D'Onta Foreman at SEA (59%)
- Tony Pollard vs. HOU (54%)
- D'Andre Swift vs. MIN (53%)
- Dameon Pierce at DAL (53%)
- Najee Harris vs. BAL (52%)
- Devin Singletary vs. NYJ (50%)
- Rachaad White at SF (50%)
- Isiah Pacheco at DEN (47%)
- Leonard Fournette at SF (46%)
- Raheem Mostert at LAC (46%)
- Cam Akers vs. LV (44%)
- Zonovan Knight at BUF (42%)
- James Cook vs. NYJ (39%)
- Gus Edwards at PIT (38%)
Bench If Possible
- Chuba Hubbard at SEA (32%)
- Kareem Hunt at CIN (31%)
- DeeJay Dallas vs. CAR (29% without Walker)
- Jerick McKinnon at DEN (29%)
- Kenneth Gainwell at NYG (26%)
- Kenyan Drake at PIT (23%)
- Kyren Williams vs. LV (21%)
- Justin Jackson vs. MIN (18%)
- Jaylen Warren vs. BAL (18%)
- Michael Carter at BUF (18%)
- Ty Johnson at BUF (17%)
- Jordan Mason vs. TB (16%)
- Alexander Mattison at DET (16%)

Notable Injuries and Early-Week Projection Notes
- Joe Mixon is initially projected with half of his usual workload.
- Damein Harris is at a half projection.
- Michael Carter is at a half projection.
- Kenneth Walker III is initially projected to play; if he does not, the committee between DeeJay Dallas, Tony Jones Jr., and (potentially) Wayne Gallman would likely lead to weak production. Dallas was injured in-game in Week 13.

D'Andre Swift might be heating up just in time to make a fantasy football playoff surge. Swift's snap rate jumped up to 51.4% in Week 13 after sitting in the 30s for three straight weeks. He had 14 carries and 6 targets for 111 total scrimmage yards, and he saw 5 of 7 red zone carries. In a date with the Vikings, who are just an average matchup against running backs on the ground and 24th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to backs, Swift is once again startable with more than just a modicum of confidence.

Leonard Fournette's role surged back in Week 13 on Monday night. He played on 60.0% of the snaps for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and turned his 10 carries and 7 targets into 81 yards. But Rachaad White still had a 41.3% snap rate and had a similar workload (9 carries, 8 targets, and 69 total yards). Fournette had the majority of the red zone work, but both are viable this week even in a tough matchup with the 49ers.

James Cook might have had a Week 13 breakout on Thursday night. On 32 snaps apiece, Cook bested teammate Devin Singletary in carries (14 to 13), red zone chances (4 to 1), targets (6 to 2), and total yards (105 to 51). The Bills are up against the New York Jets, a tough defense. However, tied to one of the best offenses in football, Cook has entered the FLEX conversation for teams in need of running back help down the stretch.

Wide Receiver

Start With Confidence
- Tyreek Hill at LAC (84%)
- Justin Jefferson at DET (78%)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. MIN (77%)
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. CLE (77%)
- Stefon Diggs vs. NYJ (74%)
- Davante Adams at LA (74%)
- A.J. Brown at NYG (72%)
- CeeDee Lamb vs. HOU (70%)
- DeAndre Hopkins vs. NE (67%)
- Tyler Lockett vs. CAR (63%)
- D.K. Metcalf vs. CAR (61%)
- Garrett Wilson at BUF (59%)
- Amari Cooper at CIN (59%)
- Deebo Samuel vs. TB (57%)
- Christian Kirk at TEN (56%)
- Jaylen Waddle at LAC (55%)
- Tee Higgins vs. CLE (52%)
- DeVonta Smith at NYG (50%)
Consider If Needed
- Jerry Jeudy vs. KC (49%)
- Keenan Allen vs. MIA (46%)
- Chris Godwin at SF (45%)
- Mike Williams vs. MIA (45% at full; 10% at half)
- D.J. Moore at SEA (44%)
- Gabe Davis vs. NYJ (44%)
- Diontae Johnson vs. BAL (41%)
- Mike Evans at SF (41%)
- Courtland Sutton vs. KC (39% at full; 12% at half)
- Donovan Peoples-Jones at CIN (38%)
- Josh Palmer vs. MIA (37% without Mike Williams)
- Adam Thielen at DET (37%)
- Zay Jones at TEN (36%)
- Mack Hollins at LA (36%)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster at DEN (35%)
- George Pickens vs. BAL (35%)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling at DEN (34%)
- Tyler Boyd vs. CLE (32%)
- Jakobi Meyers at ARI (31%)
- Michael Gallup vs. HOU (31%)
- Brandon Aiyuk vs. TB (31%)
Bench If Possible
- Van Jefferson vs. LV (29%)
- Robert Woods vs. JAC (29%)
- Marquise Brown vs. NE (26%)
- Corey Davis at BUF (23%)
- Darius Slayton vs. PHI (23%)
- Brandin Cooks at DAL (21%)
- D.J. Chark vs. MIN (21%)
- Nico Collins at DAL (20%)
- Julio Jones at SF (15%)

Notable Injuries and Early-Week Projection Notes
- Notable initial half-projections that impact others: Courtland Sutton, Mike Williams, Rondale Moore.
- Treylon Burks is assumed out after entering the concussion protocol.

The Buccaneers' running backs are in a good situation overall, but how about the pass-catchers? Since Julio Jones' return in Week 8, Mike Evans has finished as the WR14, WR34, WR44, WR74, and WR45. He has not found the end zone since Week 4's two-touchdown outing. Chris Godwin has been better: WR28, WR31, WR14, WR4, and WR31. In that five-game stretch, Godwin easily leads the team with a 24.6% target share. Evans is a pretty distant second at 16.8%, and then Jones is down at 11.2%. It's a really difficult situation to trust -- outside of Godwin.

Is it time to consider benching the week-winning potential of Gabe Davis? Davis has just one top-30 week since the Bills' Week 7 bye. That's despite target totals of 7, 5, 10, 7, 5, 7. In Week 9 against the Jets (this week's opponent), Davis was held to 33 yards on 5 targets to finish as the WR41. Davis does have a catch rate over expectation of -4.2% in that post-bye split, so an overcorrection could be coming, but he's not a sure thing for a team that is starting to lean more on the ground game than simply airing it out.

Tyler Boyd might benefit from the likely absence of tight end Hayden Hurst. Boyd dropped a wide-open touchdown last week but now sets up in a matchup with the Cleveland Browns, who rank 29th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to receivers. Boyd has a 14.4% target share (5.4 per game) when sharing time with both Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, but in those games, Hurst has a 14.1% share himself. There are some extra targets to go around, and Boyd should see some of them, making all three of the Cincinnati Bengals' receivers viable to different degrees.

Tight End

Start With Confidence
- Travis Kelce at DEN (81%)
- Mark Andrews at PIT (65%)
- Dalton Schultz vs. HOU (55%)
- Pat Freiermuth vs. BAL (53%)
- T.J. Hockenson at DET (52%)
- Tyler Higbee vs. LV (51%)
- David Njoku at CIN (50% at full; 18% at half)
Consider If Needed
- George Kittle vs. TB (49%)
- Greg Dulcich vs. KC (47%)
- Foster Moreau at LA (46%)
- Chig Okonkwo vs. JAC (46%)
- Evan Engram at TEN (39%)
- Gerald Everett vs. MIA (39%)
- Noah Fant vs. CAR (38%)
- Hunter Henry at ARI (35%)
- Austin Hooper vs. JAC (35%)
Bench If Possible
- Daniel Bellinger vs. PHI (32%)
- Mike Gesicki at LAC (31%)
- Tyler Conklin at BUF (24%)
- Mitchell Wilcox vs. CLE (24%)
- Will Dissly vs. CAR (22%)
- Dawson Knox vs. NYJ (22%)
- Isaiah Likely at PIT (20%)
- Cade Otton at SF (16%)
- Jordan Akins at DAL (15%)

Notable Injuries and Early-Week Projection Notes
- Hayden Hurst is doubtful. He would be a low-end Tier 2 play if active.

George Kittle managers could be in a bind this week. Last week with Brock Purdy under center, Kittle had just 2 of the 36 targets (5.6%) from Purdy with an average target depth of 6.5 yards on them. Sure, he caught both passes for 22 yards, but the targets were funneled to the receivers and running backs rather than to Kittle. Now, Kittle draws the 18th-ranked tight end defense by adjusted fantasy points per target, and the Bucs actually rank third-worst in catch rate over expectation allowed to tight ends. It won't feel good, but he's still a better start than virtually every Tier-2 option on the board at such a bad position.

Greg Dulcich has been a frustrating start lately. He has finished as the TE9, TE12, TE8, TE34, TE17, TE41, and TE4 since his debut. With Courtland Sutton injured, Dulcich could be the lead target-getter for the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game in which Denver should trail early. Dulcich leads all active, qualified tight ends in average target depth (11.6 yards, easily besting the position average of 6.9 yards).

Chig Okonkwo could be the answer for some tight-end needy teams this week. Okonkwo stands to see extra targets in a run-heavy offense with Treylon Burks in concussion protocol. Okonkwo has averaged 3.06 yards per route run, by far the highest rate at tight end among players with at least 75 routes. The position average rate is only 1.31.