Welcome to your Start/Sit for Week 14!
Jerry Jones just can’t catch a break.
Watching Mitch Trubisky tear apart the Cowboys…..Mitch Trubisky…..was something I certainly didn’t expect. I hope Jones gets his team figured out sooner than later. There’s still fantasy gold to be mined out of that team, but right now we’re digging with broken pickaxes.
Mining analogies aside, it’s another week of fantasy love! Whether this is your second week of playoffs or your first, congrats on making it to the postseason! It’s never an easy thing to do. Tyler Lockett sure tried to make life a living hell for those of you relying on him, and I’m sorry if his goose cost you a playoff run.
Moving forward, this week has a ton of matchups that are oh so hard to define. I’ll run through them all, trying to cover as many important players (including handcuffs) as I can
As per the usual, here’s my master key to give you an idea of how I break down these players:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Indianapolis Colts @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacoby has been quiet fantasy-wise since Week 7, but he gets a nice secondary to throw against this week. Tampa has been eviscerated through the air all year, allowing the 3rd-most passing touchdowns (27), the 2nd-most passing yards per game (281.83), and the 4th-most points a game to quarterbacks (22.2).
Pascal and Doyle should also enjoy fine outings, with T.Y. Hilton out for the foreseeable future and Eric Ebron on IR. Tampa’s giving up the most points a game to wideouts (46.4) and the 4th-most to tight ends (15.5). These guys are in a great position to deliver for you this week.
A returning Marlon Mack may limit Hines’ rushing upside, but he was never really a rusher. The pass-catching back should see plenty of looks in a game that’s missing a number of receiving options, setting him and Campbell up for flex consideration.
Sit: Marlon Mack (RB), Jonathan Williams (RB)
Tampa is hard to run on. If you’re still unsure, consider this. The average point total of every running back that has the highest points totals against them, is 14 points. That’s including CMC’s 7.3 point game and his 21.7 point game, so on and so forth. Mack is returning from a hand injury, Williams is his backup’s backups, and I’m done with this paragraph. Sit ’em.
Sleeper: Marcus Johnson (WR)
Johnson has been a no-show on radars until recently. The absence of Campbell, Hilton, and Rogers brought forth the unknown receiver into the streaming category. There’s isn’t a matchup better than this. While I have Campbell in my flex, I do like Johnson’s explosiveness a little more. He’s a deep shot sleeper for this week.
Evans and Godwin were stuffed last week by the Jags secondary, but that was to be expected to a degree. They get an easier time this week against Indianapolis’ middling defense. Godwin and Evans are both WR1’s, and I see them both bouncing back this week. Start ’em.
Flex Start: N/A
I’m convinced Bruce Arians hates fantasy football, because no one tries to ruin people’s weeks quite like him. Tannehill did well but performed poorly for fantasy last week, and I see a similar blueprint laid out for Jameis. This is also not a team to run on, thus I’m benching all of these guys (including the seldom-used tight ends).
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Must Start: DeVante Parker (WR)
What a hoss. This guy does it all. He was drafted to be a WR1, and he’s finally coming into his own (with Ryan Fitzpatrick no less). I love him this week and every week.
Start: Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
Speaking of Fitzmagic, he’s also one of my top QB streamers for this week. The 4th revenge game of his season (and his second time facing the Jets) pits Fitz against a Jets team that’s middle of the pack in terms of quarterback defense. You can throw on this team all day, making Fitz a startle asset for this week.
Flex Start: Mike Gesicki (TE)
A lack of consistent targets and an ineffective ground game, mixed with a comfortable chemistry with Fitzpatrick, make Gesicki an interesting streamer. While the Jets are far from the easiest matchup for tight ends, Gesicki has seen at least 6 targets in each game over the past 5 weeks. He’s an interesting candidate to pick up and play, but be wary of his boom-bust potential.
A lack of a power back and consistent deep threats on the outside make none of these players appealing.
Assuming Sam Darnold isn’t seeing any more ghosts, this should be a choice matchup.
Just like last week.
His receivers have one of their easiest opponents of the year, as Miami is allowing the 6th-most points to the position (39.1). They’re also giving up the 6th-most points to running backs (27.8), so Bell should see plenty of work, barring a setback due to illness. If he’s out, Bilal Powell enters the flex consideration.
Flex Start: Ryan Griffin (TE)
This is only if he’s in. Much like Le’Veon, Griffin showed up on the injury report with an illness. He gets a great chance to put up some numbers against a Dolphins team that’s allowing 12.1 points a game to the position. If he’s out, don’t worry about his backup.
Sit: Demaryius Thomas (WR), Bilal Powell (RB)
Thomas has been fantasy irrelevant and should continue to be. Also, to reiterate, play Powell in a flex if Bell is out. Otherwise forget about him.
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints
Must Start: George Kittle (TE)
A digression in productivity from the other wideouts, coupled with a slowing run game, make Kittle a great start. He doesn’t carry an injury designation, making him an exciting piece of the 49ers offense this week.
It’s a sharp drop-off after Kittle, and it’s not even close.
With Sanders lacking production over the past month and Deebo’s stock on the rise, I like him a lot in a game with few targets to choose from. Mostert also showed his capabilities last game (as he has when he has the opportunities), and I like him as a flex option this week. Breida is back, but I feel he’ll be limited in his return.
The Saints are tough on QBs and RBs. A crowded backfield lacking in explosiveness and inconsistent receivers are not ideal. I’ll wait and see how Breida does, but I’m steering clear in the mean time.
Must Start: Michael Thomas (WR)
Don’t be afraid to play your superstars. They’re almost always matchup-proof; that’s why they’re superstars.
Start: Alvin Kamara (RB)
He’s a talent for sure, but Kamara doesn’t have a single 100 yard rushing game this season. Don’t expect it here. He’s more of an RB2 this week, just like he’s been all season. I know it hurts to hear, but it’s true.
Flex Start: N/A
Brees is no longer matchup-proof, though it’s been that way for awhile now. This defense is no pushover, so don’t expect fantasy winning weeks from him. Cook also gets the No. 1 tight end defense, so that’s not fun, either.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
** Wide Receiver Start of the Week **: Kenny Golladay (WR)
The Blough-back from last week’s game wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
Now that I’ve made a nice little pun, I see Golladay as a must-start this week. Finding the end zone last week with his third quarterback of the year, Golladay should see similar stats with a weak Vikings defense that was just torn apart by the Seahawks.
Start: Marvin Jones Jr. (WR)
I also like Marvin Jones for the same reasons. He’s a WR2 with pretty high upside this week.
Flex Start: Bo Scarbrough (RB)
Bo’s in consideration foe a flex spot this week, but not if you’re in a PPR league. Apparently he’s afraid of the ball, but only when it’s in the air. If you want to take a gamble on him in Standard, know that he’s had 53 carries in 3 games. That’s a lot of totes.
We’re so close to the return of Kerryon Johnson. In the mean time, these leftovers can be thrown out.
Must Start: Dalvin Cook (RB)
I pray that you have Alexander Mattison if Cook isn’t ready to go for Sunday. Otherwise, start Cook against a team that’s allowed 29.7 points a game to running backs (3rd-most).
This Lions team loves to get passed on, and Kyle Rudolph loves to catch touchdown. Diggs doesn’t like catching them as much, but he loves receptions all the same. I wonder who’s throwing all those passes? All of these guys are in a great position to deliver for you this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Thielen might be a drop candidate. You heard it here.
Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans
Must Start: Courtland Sutton (WR)
Sutton’s production has also weathered three quarterbacks, but his consistency has yet to waiver. The budding star gets a Houston secondary that’s allowed 36.2 points a game to wideouts (13th-most).
Start: Phillip Lindsay (RB)
Last week’s disappointing finish (let’s just call it the past month) may have left a sour taste in your mouth, but don’t let it spoil your appetite. I’m hungry for fantasy production, and Lindsay is sure to deliver.
The Texans are allowing 28.7 points a game from running backs (4th-most), putting a pass-catcher like Lindsay in line for high-end RB2 numbers.
Flex Start: N/A
I like where this team is heading offensively. In the mean time, I’m down on these guys until further notice. Freeman’s dip in carries, coupled with Fant’s inconsistent catches, makes these guys to hot to touch. I’ll let you know when they cool down.
Watson and D-Hop have nothing left to prove after gouging the Patriots defense. Chris Harris Jr. allowed Keenan Allen to score after shutting him down previously. I don’t think he’ll be able to stop Hopkins.
Flex Start: Duke Johnson (RB)
The back saw more for work in last week’s win over the Patriots, catching a touchdown pass in the decisive win. His pass-catching profile helps his case as a flex option this week.
Hyde has been inefficient as of late, losing valuable work to Johnson on the ground and through the air. Stills and Fuller are too hot and cold, and Fells is a touchdown or bust type of tight end. It’s playoff time, so you don’t need to gamble with these guys.
Washington Redskins @ Green Bay Packers
** Running Back Start of the Week **: Derrius Guice (RB)
Guice’s late-season revitalization is starting to unfold before our very eyes. Much like how Dalvin Cook ended last season, I see Guice demanding touches and being more efficient with them. The Packers are giving up the 7th-most points to running backs (27.7 ppg), making Guice a great RB2 this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Wanted: Dwayne Haskins.
Crime: The murder of Terry McLaurin’s fantasy season.
Reward: Case Keenum back under center.
** Quarterback Start of the Week **: Aaron Rodgers (QB)
The man with an insurance plan was on fire last week. He gets a Washington team that’s allowing 19.1 points a game to quarterbacks. Seeing how Rodgers can use that average point total, it’s safe to assume he breaks that barrier for an even large gain. Fire him up.
I’m still rolling with Jones despite his fantasy slow-down. He’s more of an RB2 while Matt LaFleur piece together a running back by committee approach between him and Jamaal Williams. Adams, meanwhile, should have a heyday. Washington hates defense and is allowing 35.3 points a game to wideouts.
Flex Start: Jamaal Williams (RB)
Williams’ continuing presence has turned into a solid flex option moving forward. He’s a pass-catcher, which helps his PPR upside, and is not just touchdown dependent.
None of these guys have had a decent game this season without a touchdown. If you want to gamble and try to pick one, be my guest. Avoid them to be safe.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Start: Joe Mixon (RB)
Cleveland’s pressure rate is 6th in the NFL, making it a tough case for Mixon and Co. to put up eye-popping numbers. He’s more an RB2 this week.
Flex Start: Tyler Boyd (WR)
The secondary coverage is a little tighter as of late, but with Dalton under center, Boyd should still have a relatively-high floor. He’s a high-end flex option with big upside, especially if he scores.
I expect Dalton to be sacked often and under pressure most of the time; that Bengals O-line is horrible. That caps him and everyone who’s not a safe target, like Tate.
Must Start: Nick Chubb (RB)
He’s losing time and touches to Kareem Hunt, but this is a pretty good looking game on paper regardless. Cincinnati is giving up 26.8 points a game on average to running backs, making a workhorse like Chubb a solid RB1 for this meeting.
Start: Kareem Hunt (RB), Jarvis Landry (WR)
Pass-catching backs and downfield deep threats make these two dangerous, assuming Baker can keep control of the ball. I like them as high end 2’s at their respective positions.
Flex Start: Odell Beckham Jr. (WR)
He’s a flex player until further notice. Still an inviting matchup, but be aware of his bust potential.
Baker’s turnovers makes him problematic and hard to trust. His receivers are beneficiaries of his carefulness, but only when he’s got his head on his shoulders. I don’t trust him to not make a turnover. David Njoku is also returning from his IR designation, but of course it’s too early to see how he’ll do. I’m going to wait and see how he plays.
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills
Must Start: Lamar Jackson (QB)
Start: Mark Ingram II (RB)
The Bills are allowing 23.8 points a game on the ground to running backs. Ingram’s valuable goal-line and red zone carries make him a fine RB2 for this one.
Flex Start: Mark Andrews (TE)
Every time we think we can count out Andrews, he somehow proves us wrong. His connection with Jackson is real, and the big target is a red zone monster that can be utilized in the best way.
I’ll say it ’til I’m blue in the face; inconsistency leads to inefficiency.
Must Start: Josh Allen (QB)
The ‘other’ Lamar Jackson. I love Allen, and have been high on him ever since he entered the league. He’s in a terrific spot to upset the Ravens at home.
Start: John Brown (WR)
Brown is Allen’s favorite deep target. He can burn secondaries for huge gains, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to burning his former team. One week after Beasley’s revenge game, I’m calling for John Brown’s. He’s a nice WR2.
Oh Beasles. I’m sorry I turned my back on you. Your revenge game was warranted and much appreciated. He gets a fine matchup this week with a middling Ravens pass defense. Singletary should also see a fine volume of work, making both of these players solid flex picks.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Must Start: Christian McCaffrey (RB)
Does it get much better than D.J. Moore right now? The fantasy darling is the WR No. 2 over the past five weeks, behind only Jarvis Landry. He gets a fire matchup in Atlanta, a team that’s allowing 39.1 points a game to wideouts. This is a game where Samuel is also going to see great numbers, making him all the more intriguing to roster. I like Moore as a WR1 and Samuel as a solid WR2 this week.
Flex Start: N/A
While he’s been on a hot streak the past two games, you can’t forget (or forgive) those four interceptions he threw against this Atlanta team when they last met in Week 11. His inconsistent streak is too volatile to touch. Olsen has also been ruled out, so this is a courtesy reminder to make sure he’s not still in your lineup.
Sleeper: Ian Thomas (TE)
While a committee-approach was proposed for the absent Olsen, Thomas has been the secondary pass-catching tight end on the roster, so it makes sense that he’ll see the most targets. This is a deep shot, so take it at your own risk.
Julio is returning from a one game absence and Hooper makes his triumphant return after having the past month off. Neither could’ve returned at a better time. The Panthers have been a mess on defense lately, especially against running backs. They’re one of the easiest team to run on, second to only Kansas City in points allowed (30.0 ppg). I like all of these guys as top options this week.
Start: Calvin Ridley (WR)
Ridley succeeded where Julio fell short the last time these teams met, where he exploded for almost 30 points. The Panthers are allowing 37.8 points a game to wideouts (11th-most), making Ridley a fine option.
Flex Start: N/A
Julio and Hooper returning means less fantasy gold to be found here. Move along.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have struggled in running backs coverage all year. With two dangerous pass catchers on the team, the Chargers are posted to have a field day on the ground. I like both of these guys as high-end RB2’s this week.
Flex Start: Hunter Henry (TE), Keenan Allen (WR)
While Henry had a weak showing last week, this is a prime matchup for him to bounce-back in. The Jags love to be the lone exception to coverage when it comes to kickoff. I don’t trust the negative game script, and I think Henry and Allen will have great success in the red zone for this one.
I’m done with Rivers for the year. Williams is also too up and down for me to feel comfortable rolling him out.
Must Start: Leonard Fournette (RB)
The workhorse of Duval has a great matchup with a Chargers tea, that’s allowing the 9th-most points to backfields (26.3). He’s set up for another big outing with a solid RB1 stamp on the week.
Start: D.J. Chark (WR), Gardner Minshew II (QB)
Chark is hard to define right now, with his less than stellar showings the past couple of weeks still etched in people’s minds. He did enjoy the most fantasy success with Minshew under center, so it’s safe to say he’ll see an uptick in looks this week. I like him as a WR2 option.
Minshew Mania is in full swing, and though I don’t expect him to put up insane numbers this week, the likelihood that he exceeds expectations is big. He’s a high-end QB2 for me, and should be targets in multiple-quarterback leagues.
Flex Start: N/A
A tough game and less solid chemistry with Minshew makes me less high on these two than I have been. Sit them.
Tennessee Titans @ Oakland Raiders
These two have such a plus matchup that it’s ridiculous. Oakland’s giving up the 3rd-most points to quarterbacks (22.4) and the 12th-most to running backs (24.7). I like them both as Top-5 finishers this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Tannehill has been spreading the ball around, so there’s no definite No. 1 on the team or guaranteed targets. It’s best to leave these guys be.
** Tight End Start of the Week **: Darren Waller (TE)
A return to fantasy gold (at the expense of Renfrow’s season) means Waller is back into your graces, just in time for a fantasy playoff run. The Titans are allowing 13.5 points a game to tight ends (7th-most), but I expect Waller to abuse that differential.
Start: Josh Jacobs (RB)
Jacobs hasn’t been terrific recently, but he gets another chance to put up some damage this week. The Titans are pretty similar across the board to Oakland in terms of defense, which means they’re easy to run on. Jacobs is a nice RB2 this week, but keep an eye on his status leading up to kickoff.
Flex Start: N/A
These guys have been far from consistent and haven’t done anything to show that they can take advantage of game scripts or poor matchups. Sit them.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
These guys are the best trio in football and you can’t change facts. This is a tough matchup for them, but their ability to break the game and make something out of nothing is too hard to ignore. I will die on this hill.
Flex Start: N/A
Remember when it was just Kareem Hunt?
Must Start: James White (RB)
White’s unbelievable game last week was insane to watch. While I don’t think he’ll quite repeat that, I do believe that he’ll have another solid showing. No one gives up more points to running backs than there Chiefs (31.0 ppg), making White a PPR-God this week.
Tom’s garbage time throw-fest was the only thin that saved his day. He’ll have a hard time this week with Tyrann Mathieu and company coming to town; the Honey Badger picked off Brady last time these two teams met, and I’m sure he’s eyeing another one. Brady most likely won’t be throwing a ton, but the positive matchup weighs in his favor.
Michel should also see his usual workload, no matter how inefficient he is with it. He didn’t much with it last week, but he gets a better chance (the best he can get really) this week.
Edelman is Brady’s go-to guy always, now and forever. Amen. Run with these guys this week.
Flex Start: N/A
Save yourself the trouble and don’t do it.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals
Must Start: Benny Snell Jr. (RB)
With James Conner remaining out and Jaylen Samuels relegated to a change-of-pace role, Snell has enjoyed solid fantasy outings the past two weeks. He gets a great matchup with a sluggish Cardinals team in the desert. I like him to come into his own as a solid RB2 this week.
Washington has exploded the past two weeks thanks to a solid rapport with Hodges, and is now enjoying a wide-open receiving room with plenty of opportunity to put up huge numbers. The Cardinals are the easiest team to throw on in the league (26.1 points a game to quarterbacks – 1st), streamlining Hodges waiver pickup as an almost must. I like both of these guys to have a fine week.
Flex Start: N/A
Sit: Jaylen Samuels (RB), Diontae Johnson (WR)
I don’t like their volume, which means I don’t trust their output. Also, I don’t like their output.
Sleeper: Vance McDonald (TE)
Why is it always tight ends? I swear I don’t do it on purpose. Vance gets to dance his way into the end zone for a touchdown this week.
Start: Kyler Murray (QB)
A Steelers team that’s been dominant against quarterbacks isn’t ideal for Murray to put a huge game. He’s more of a QB2 this week, especially with the Steelers allowing only 16.2 points a game to the position (10th-fewest).
Flex Start: N/A
This is a tough game and Kingsbury will have his hands full worrying about this defense. These offensive players aren’t worth a look this week, and most are worth a drop.
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
These two remain starters despite struggles in recent weeks. Russell has been admirable, but he’s the QB No. 11 over the past 7 weeks. I’m not expecting a monster game from either player, but passing volume and plenty of carries for Carson make these guy startable.
Decaf Metcalf and his brew of friends find themselves in flex territory this week. While the passing volume should be there, Jalen Ramsey can still take away your top receiver. That, coupled with uncertain usage from Penny moving forward, makes me wonder at the upside. Penny is talented, but his carries aren’t as assured as Carson’s. They all make fine flex plays, regardless.
Sit: Josh Gordon (WR)
Adobe doesn’t support Flash anymore, and neither do I.
Gurley found success on the ground against Seattle earlier this year, and he might just find a similar stat line again. Woods has overtaken Kupp as the No. 1 in recent weeks, and has a nice matchup this week. The Seahawks can be beaten through the air, though that hasn’t;t been the case often this year.
Higbee will also see another start with Gerald Everett remaining out. He exploded last week for 107 yards on 7 rec and 1 TD. Seattle is one of the worst teams in tight end coverage. The only team that’s worse? Arizona. Start him up again.
Flex Start: Cooper Kupp (WR)
Woods has replaced Kupp in consistency and reliability, but that doesn’t mean take Kupp out. It just means temper expectations.
Goff is a system quarterback that can be scripted out, and Cooks is always hurt. Bam bam ba jam. Sit ’em.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
Start: Saquon Barkley (RB)
Barkley’s volume and usage makes him a weekly starter, but he’s an unmitigated bust from where you drafted him. The Eagles have a Top-10 rush defense, so don’t expect him to win you the week. Still, he’s an RB2 and should see plenty of looks from Eli.
Honestly, with the return of Eli, it could be all of these guys or none of them. Manning didn’t even play with Slayton or Tate, so it’s hard to know. Still, this trio gets a Philly team that was just torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick, so the proof’s in the pudding. I don’t know, that’s something my grandma used to say. I think.
Sit: Kaden Smith (TE)
A healthy trio of wide receivers means Smith is one of the last options for this team to consider.
Sleeper: Eli Manning (QB)
I like Manning’s chances of having a great game against this Eagles team. It’s the perfect sleeper pick; former starting ironman quarterback comes out for one more huge game before riding off into retirement. The Eagles hate to play pass defense, making Manning a quiet combustible waiting to explode.
Wentz has a fantastic matchup on slate with a Giants team that just had the crap beat out of them by Aaron Rodgers. While he’s certainly not Rodgers, Wentz gets another healthy showing out of Jeffery and a fully-practicing Zach Ertz to help him out. Ertz might be shut down slightly, but he should still see enough looks to warrant a start.
I like all of these guys – especially Alshon – in this game.
Goedert’s flex appeal is limited this week in a tough matchup, but his constant threat as a red zone target makes him an interesting case if your waiver wire is looking depleted. Sanders should also see more snaps this week, with Jordan Howard questionable to play.
Uncertain injury designations and ill-use makes me avoid these guys with a 20 ft pole. No thanks.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, doing voice impressions, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.