Fantasy Football Week 14: Start and Sit

Some thoughts after Week 13 of the fantasy football season:

  • Recommending Colin Kaepernick the week he goes 1-of-5 for four yards and gets replaced by Blaine Gabbert in the fourth quarter, regardless of snowy conditions, has to be the low point of this column. I take solace in the fact I wasn’t alone, but still. Fantasy can be so fickle.
  • Things that make you go Hmmm: Blake Bortles has 10 career wins as a starting quarterback. He has 11 career pick-sixes.
  • There’s a reason fantasy owners believe every year is going to be a breakout year for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. He always closes out a season with a bang. In 2014, he had a ridiculous 18-target, 15-catch, 115-yard performance in Week 16. In 2015, he closed out the final four games averaging almost 12 targets, nine catches and 113 yards per game. His nine receptions, 79 yards and one score on 15 targets against Cincinnati is a hint it is happening again. In three of his final four games, the Eagles face the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys — all are ranked 23rd or worse against tight ends.
  • Give Lamar Miller a week before you allow your panic to inform your decisions. As someone who has him in multiple leagues, I’ve felt your frustration this season, but there still could be hope. The Texans face a very soft run defense schedule the rest of the season — the Colts, Jaguars, Bengals and Titans.
  • Tyrell Williams has become the Chargers No. 1 wide receiver over the course of this disappointing season. He entered last week with a torn labrum and San Diego clinging to the remote possibility it could still make the playoffs. After the loss to the Buccaneers, the Chargers aren’t going to the playoffs, so is there any reason for Williams to continue? If he goes on IR, Dontrelle Inman could be a difference maker in the fantasy playoffs. Keep an eye on this.

Here's my best bets for Week 14:

OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY

Obvious starters: Derek Carr (Raiders), Amari Cooper (Raiders), Spencer Ware (Chiefs), Travis Kelce (Chiefs).

Who to start: Let’s be frank, Latavius Murray (Raiders) is not the most efficient running back in the game. He’s essentially touchdown-or-bust, but because the Raiders offense is so good, he gets plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns. Michael Crabtree (Raiders) is the epitome of what you want from a WR2. I believe rookie wide receiver Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) has earned a substantial place in the Chiefs offense regardless if Jeremy Maclin returns from injury.

Who to sit: We all wish Oakland utilized Clive Walford (Raiders) skills better. He’s simply the odd-man out in this offense. There’s simply no real upside to playing Alex Smith (Chiefs). Despite the positive match-up, I’d sit Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs) if he returns from his groin injury Thursday night.

Sleeper: The Chiefs D/ST is too good to sit, despite a tough match-up — see what they did against the Falcons — and a short week usually favors the defenses anyways.

PITTSBURGH AT BUFFALO

Obvious starters: Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), Antonio Brown (Steelers), LeSean McCoy (Bills).

Who to start: Tight end Ladarius Green (Steelers) has turned into a deep threat for Roethlisberger. The Bills, meanwhile, have allowed the most yards per catch to tight ends (13.96) this season. Tyrod Taylor (Bills) is a solid streaming option at quarterback against a Steelers defense that will have a hard time pressuring him.

Who to sit: It appears Sammy Watkins (Bills) is close to being past his bothersome foot injury, but I’d still play it cautious with him unless you’re desperate.

Sleeper: Marquise Goodwin (Bills) hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 7. Pittsburgh’s defense has been solid in limiting wide receivers this season, but maybe they pay too much attention to Watkins and Goodwin uses his world-class speed to get behind the secondary. It wouldn’t surprise me.

DENVER AT TENNESSEE

Obvious starters: Demaryius Thomas (Broncos), Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos), Broncos D/ST, DeMarco Murray (Titans). 

Who to start: Temper your expectations during the biggest test Marcus Mariota (Titans) will face going forward. Despite the extremely difficult match-up, it’s hard to sit Delanie Walker (Titans), Mariota’s favorite target.

Who to sit: Trevor Siemian (Broncos) should return this week, but he’s nothing more than a QB2. The only thing positive about Devontae Booker (Broncos) has been his workload, but he's averaged just 2.88 yards per carry over the past four games. Rishard Matthews (Titans) has to sit despite how good he has been since Week 5. The Broncos’ secondary is called the “No Fly Zone” for a reason.

Sleeper: Justin Forsett (Broncos) will replace Kapri Bibbs right away, but could start eating into Booker’s production sooner than later.

WASHINGTON AT PHILADELPHIA

Obvious starters: Kirk Cousins (Redskins), Zach Ertz (Eagles).

Who to start: The Eagles have been inconsistent at best against the run this season, so Robert Kelley (Redskins) should earn RB2 production. Jamison Crowder (Redskins) has earned WR2 consideration, while Pierre Garcon (Redskins) is a solid flex play, especially in PPR leagues. Darren Sproles (Eagles) is always a capable flex play in PPR.

Who to sit: Bench DeSean Jackson (Redskins) unless you believe in “Revenge Games.” Rookie QB Carson Wentz (Eagles) hasn’t proven good enough to take advantage of Jordan Matthews’ (Eagles) skillset. Ryan Mathews (Eagles) could return this week. No one has established dominance in Philadelphia’s backfield. It wouldn’t surprise me if he scores in his return, but you simply can’t trust him at this point.

Sleeper: Tight end Vernon Davis (Redskins) will be a major factor in Washington’s offense as long as Jordan Reed misses time with a shoulder injury.

ARIZONA AT MIAMI

Obvious starters: David Johnson (Cardinals), Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals), Cardinals D/ST.

Who to start: The Dolphins’ secondary has been torched the past two weeks against the 49ers and Ravens, making Carson Palmer (Cardinals) a perfect streaming option this week. Jay Ajayi’s (Dolphins) workload should be sufficient enough for RB2 value at least. Only use Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) in deeper PPR leagues this week.

Who to sit: On top of being maddingly inconsistent, Michael Floyd (Cardinals) has also been dealing with a hamstring injury. There’s no reason to trust Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins) in a match-up this tough. DeVante Parker (Dolphins) is too boom-or-bust to trust this week.

Sleeper: J.J. Nelson (Cardinals) has proven to be an all-or-nothing propisition in fantasy. He’s capable of at least one big play against Miami’s weak secondary.

SAN DIEGO AT CAROLINA

Obvious starters: Philip Rivers (Chargers), Melvin Gordon (Chargers), Cam Newton (Panthers), Greg Olsen (Panthers).

Who to start: Tyrell Williams (Chargers) has been a borderline WR1 the past four games, averaging 77 yards and a score. The Panthers defense has been horrible against tight ends this season, making future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates (Chargers) a TE1 this week. Jonathan Stewart (Panthers) is a solid RB2, considering the Chargers have allowed 16 scores and 80 catches to running backs this season.

Who to sit: Rookie tight end Hunter Henry (Chargers) is a touchdown-or-bust option, considering he hasn’t had more than two receptions in a game since Week 6. Kelvin Benjamin (Panthers) has been a disappointment so far and San Diego’s pass coverage has been surprisingly good, despite several injuries. If I’m low on Benjamin, I’m not much higher on Ted Ginn Jr. (Panthers).

Sleeper: Dontrelle Inman (Chargers) could have a boost in value if Williams’ shoulder issues flare up again.

CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND

Obvious starters: Jeremy Hill (Bengals), Tyler Eifert (Bengals), Bengals D/ST, Terrelle Pryor (Browns).

Who to start: Any quarterback who faces the Browns is a solid streaming option, so reintriduce yourself to Andy Dalton (Bengals). Both Tyler Boyd (Bengals) and Brandon LaFell (Bengals) are solid flex options against a porous Cleveland defense. Isaiah Crowell (Browns) had 79 total yards and a score against the Bengals Week 7.

Who to sit: Robert Griffin III (Browns) could return from the IR, but it doesn’t really matter. If you’re starting the Browns’ quarterback, the prospects of you going deep in your playoffs are in deep trouble.

Sleeper: Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman (Browns) has the ability to get beyond the secondary, making him big-play capable. 

CHICAGO AT DETROIT

Obvious starters: Jordan Howard (Bears), Matthew Stafford (Lions), 

Who to start: Golden Tate (Lions) and Theo Riddick (Lions) are clearly PPR studs. 

Who to sit: All Bears not named Howard. Marvin Jones (Lions) disappeared after a scorching start to the season, and now he’s dealing with injuries. The Bears have been solid covering tight ends this season, so I expect an inconsistent Eric Ebron (Lions) to be closer to a TE2 this week. If you own him, you likely have a better option on your roster anyways.

Sleeper: Lions D/ST are a solid streaming option against a Matt Barkley quarterbacked team.

HOUSTON AT INDIANAPOLIS

Obvious starters: Lamar Miller (Texans), DeAndre Hopkins (Texans), Andrew Luck (Colts), T.Y. Hilton (Colts).

Who to start: Second on the team in targets and first in yards since assuming a prominent receiving role in Week 4, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (Texans) is a solid start against the Colts. Frank Gore (Colts) set season highs with 22 carries and 106 yards against the Texans in Week 6. Donte Moncrief (Colts) has scored in all five games since he returned from injury.

Who to sit: Even with a solid match-up like this, I can’t recommend Brock Osweiler (Texans). Don’t expect Dwayne Allen (Colts) to erupt for multiple touchdowns again this season.

Sleeper: Will Fuller (Texans) is a boom-or-bust option, but it’s only a matter of time before he goes boom again.

MINNESOTA AT JACKSONVILLE

Obvious starters: Vikings D/ST, Kyle Rudolph (Vikings).

Who to start: Stefon Diggs (Vikings) has 48 receptions in his last five games played.

Who to sit: Sam Bradford (Vikings) is simply not an option in the fantasy playoffs. As per usual, I hope you have better options on your roster than Jerick McKinnon (Vikings) or Matt Asiata (Vikings). You must avoid Blake Bortles (Jaguars) at all costs with this match-up. Bortles play is finally beginning to drag Allen Robinson (Jaguars) down into the fantasy abyss with him. Chris Ivory (Jaguars) and T.J. Yeldon (Jaguars) are also avoidable.

Sleeper: Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings) is a big play-or-bust type of player. I say he has a big play in him against Jacksonville.

N.Y. JETS AT SAN FRANCISCO

Obvious starters: Matt Forte (Jets), Carlos Hyde (49ers).

Who to start: Despite the quarterback issues, Brandon Marshall (Jets) is still a WR2 against the 49ers. Assuming there won’t be blizzard conditions in the Bay Area this week, Colin Kaepernick (49ers) should return to being a solid streaming option, especially against a Jets team that appeared to quit against the Colts on Monday Night Football. Vance McDonald (49ers) could be a borderline TE1 this week.

Who to sit: Are you in rebuiding mode like the Jets? Then you’re not starting Bryce Petty (Jets) at quarterback. Quincy Enunwa (Jets) will likely suffer the most with Petty under center.

Sleeper: Petty targeted Robby Anderson (Jets) relentlessly on Monday night.

NEW ORLEANS AT TAMPA BAY

Obvious starters: Drew Brees (Saints), Brandin Cooks (Saints), Jameis Winston (Buccaneers), Mike Evans (Buccaneers).

Who to start: Michael Thomas (Saints) should continue his impressive rookie campaign — he already has seven touchdowns — with this solid match-up. Mark Ingram (Saints) is a RB2, even if he splits time in the backfield. Cameron Brate (Buccaneers) is a TE1 for your fantasy playoff opener.

Who to sit: Willie Snead (Saints) has scored in only one game since Week 4. Doug Martin (Buccaneers) is dealing with a knee injury and the return of Charles Sims (Buccaneers) from the IR.

Sleeper: The Buccaneers haven’t been very good against tight ends this season, adding extra value to Coby Fleener (Saints) this week.

ATLANTA AT LOS ANGELES

Obvious starters: Matt Ryan (Falcons), Julio Jones (Falcons), Devonta Freeman (Falcons).

Who to start: Tevin Coleman (Falcons) has been relatively quiet since the bye, which means he is due, making him a solid flex alternative. With at least five targets in each of the last four games, Taylor Gabriel (Falcons) has earned a larger offensive role to showcase his explosiveness, especially if Jones isn’t 100 percent. No matter how bad it gets, Todd Gurley (Rams) is the only player on Los Angeles’ roster I would risk.

Who to sit: Mohamed Sanu (Falcons) is dealing with a groin injury. All Rams not named Gurley.

Sleeper: There are better tight end options, but Austin Hooper (Falcons) has shown explosiveness in spurts.

SEATTLE AT GREEN BAY

Obvious starters: Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Jimmy Graham (Seahawks), Doug Baldwin (Seahawks), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Jordy Nelson (Packers).

Who to start: Thomas Rawls (Seahawks) is the only running back left standing in Seattle. He’s a borderline RB1 going forward, at least until he breaks down. Davante Adams (Packers) will be able to rebound from an off week — one reception for 17 yards — to take advantage of an Earl Thomas-less “Legion of Boom.”

Who to sit: The emergence of Adams has hurt Randall Cobb (Packers). He only received three targets last week. Jared Cook (Packers) is TE2 this week, even without Thomas roaming the middle of the field.

Sleeper: Tyler Lockett (Seahawks) finally appears healthy, which means he is capable of making a big play every time he touches the football.

DALLAS AT N.Y. GIANTS

Obvious starters: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), Dez Bryant (Cowboys), Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants).

Who to start: I expect Dak Prescott (Cowboys) to avenge his worst start as a professional — his debut against the Giants Week 1 — especially with Jason Pierre-Paul out. Cole Beasley (Cowboys) should bounce back from a season-low in catches and yards, returning to his normal PPR stud self. Eli Manning (Giants) has multiple touchdown passes in six of the last seven games and faces a banged up Cowboys secondary. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard (Giants) has quietly scored in four of five games since the bye.

Who to sit: Running backs Rashad Jennings (Giants) and Paul Perkins (Giants) are still cancelling each other out.

Sleeper: Jason Witten (Cowboys) snared nine passes for 66 yards against the Giants in Week 1.

BALTIMORE AT NEW ENGLAND

Obvious starters: Tom Brady (Patriots), LeGarrette Blount (Patriots).

Who to start: Mike Wallace (Ravens) is worthy flex option thanks to his big play ability. Steve Smith Sr. (Ravens) remains a decent flex option in PPR leagues. You could do worse than Dennis Pitta (Ravens) at tight end, just don’t expect another nine receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Julian Edelman (Patriots) has piled up targets lately, with no fewer than eight since Week 4.

Who to sit: I don’t anticipate Joe Flacco (Ravens) getting anywhere near 381 yards or four touchdowns against the Patriots. If only you could combine Terrance West (Ravens) and Kenneth Dixon (Ravens) production.

Sleeper: Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (Patriots) earned a career-high 67 snaps, eight catches and 10 targets in Week 13, thanks to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola missing time. Both are out this week as well.

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