Playoff time. Every game is a must-win. Every move seems all-important. Every change in a player’s condition becomes newsworthy. As it should. When it comes to success in fantasy football, the devil is in the details. Knowledge and understanding lead to informed decisions. And the more hungry you are for that knowledge and understanding, the more likely you are to go find it and use it.
The trick here is not to go overboard. Some fantasy owners become so obsessed with information that they will take their analysis to a whole new level in the playoffs. Next thing you know, they are starting a QB3 over a QB1 and chasing after fantasy points that are, well, simply a fantasy…. Any given thing can happen on any given week. And in the fantasy playoffs, it’s win or go home. So this is the time, more than any other time over the course of the season, to stick with your stud players. They are the ones most likely to get the points. When you start getting cute with your lineups, you begin chasing after extra points at the risk of finishing with much fewer points than if you had just started your studs.
So with that in mind, let’s look at some players to be aware of going into Week 14.
For those needing a QB2 with upside, Josh McCown remains a great choice. He’s at home against Dallas on Monday night. The Cowboys are next to last in passing yards allowed at 295 yards per game, and McCown has been consistently good over the past month. He is a better choice this week than Ryan Fitzpatrick, who many are touting as a great sleeper start against Denver. Remember that Fitzpatrick will be on the road and that his tight end Delanie Walker may not be available today. The better choice is McCown.
On the flip side of the football on Monday night, DeMarco Murray faces the worst rushing defense in the NFL. This matchup has points written all over it for Murray, so long as the Cowboys coaching staff takes advantage of it. Keep in mind that coaches, not just fantasy owners, can sometimes get too cute. So don’t go crazy on Murray, but consider him a low-end RB1 with great upside in Week 14. I would start him over Alfred Morris.
Eddie Lacy is a solid RB2 choice at home against Atlanta this week. The weather may prevent him from breaking loose for a big play. But he should get plenty of carries in this one. And the Falcons have been pretty weak at stopping the run this season. Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey is also a good RB2 choice this week at home against Buffalo. And for those seeking a lower-end option that could score some points, try New England RB Shane Vereen. He may not get a lot on the ground. But he should see some receptions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some goal line opportunities against the Browns.
Owners of WR Michael Floyd should seriously consider starting him as a WR2 or in the Flex this week. He has a decent matchup at home against the Rams, and has great upside. For those wondering whether they should start Michael Crabtree, he should only be considered a WR3 with some upside and a lot of downside this week. He is primed to break out, but faces a stiff Seahawks defense. A better play would be Julian Edelman.
Those in need of a sleeper tight end should consider starting Ladarius Green. As I said last week, he’s picking it up in terms of production. And this week, he has a great match-up at home against the Giants. He is a high-end TE2 with upside this week. As for the return of Dennis Pitta, fantasy owners would do well to avoid him for the time-being. It’s not that he can’t get you some points, but you just don’t know how much he will play in his first game back. Best to avoid him.
And if you are in need of a DST, your best sleeper candidates are the Arizona Cardinals (at home vs. the Rams), the Baltimore Ravens (at home vs. the Vikings), and the New York Jets (at home vs. the Raiders), in order of which ones you can count on the most to get the points (not in order of who will get the most points).
Taking a look at some fantasy players to avoid in Week 14, let’s begin with Colin Kaepernick. He may have a QBR as good as Russell Wilson’s of late, but he has a terrible track record against Seattle (1 TD, 4 INTs, and a 47.1 passer rating). The Seahawks seem to have his number. Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton are okay to start, but temper your expectations for them today. They both get QB2 designation this week in their game against each other in snowy Cincinnati.
Fantasy owners should stay away from Raiders RB Rashard Jennings. He faces the #1 rushing defense this week, and McFadden’s presence might also begin to chip into his numbers. And though C.J. Spiller finally played to his potential last week, he is only an RB2 this week against the Buccaneers.
If you own Josh Gordon, he is a must-start. But don’t be surprised if his numbers a little lower than usual. He goes against the Patriots Aqib Talib this week, making him a WR1 with more downside than upside. Likewise, you have to start Adrian Peterson if you have him, but this could be a below average game for him in Baltimore.
Finally, we all know to avoid the Tennessee DST against Denver. But you may also want to avoid the Miami DST on the road in wintery Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown could burn them for a few in this one.
So there you have it – a brief look at who to start and sit in Week 14. Again, as a general rule stick with your studs. That will not necessarily guarantee you success, but it will likely give your fantasy team its best shot at winning at this point. Best of luck to all of you this week. May good fantasy karma be with you in your quest for a championship.