Week 14 is here.
For some of you, that means you have a team (or hopefully teams) on bye this week. If so, major kudos to you.
For others of you, Week 14 means that it’s the first week of the playoffs. If so, good luck, and hopefully the advice in this post will help you move on.
For others, Week 14 is the last week of your regular season. Maybe you’ve clinched a playoff spot or maybe you’re still scratching and clawing for one. Regardless, hopefully we can do you and your lineup some good with our picks in this week’s start em, sit em.
And for some of you this may be your first week without fantasy football – if your playoffs start this week and you did not make it; but if that’s the case, why would you be reading this?
Alas, if you’re here, you are looking for help in Week 14. And you’re in luck, because that is exactly what you’re about to get.
My apologies to those who came looking for Jon. I’m taking the start/sit reins today. I will do my very best to get you set up for success in this most pivotal of weeks.
Also, no looking back to Week 13, but not because it was a bad week. Frankly, I don’t know. I don’t even remember Jon’s picks. I assume some worked and some didn’t, like any week. But with the stakes now raised, there is no time for the rearview mirror. We look forward.
Here are your Week 14 start/sit picks:
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start em, Sit em QBs
Start Em QB: Matthew Stafford, DET (vs MIN)
Put this one in the no-brainer category.
Frankly, I feel a little bad making it the start em pick at QB, because it’s the equivalent of taking candy from a baby. Nonetheless, it’s here, because if you own Matthew Stafford you absolutely must have him in your lineup this week.
And it all boils down to matchup.
If you watched the Broncos-Vikings game last week, you saw Broncos wide receivers running around wide open all day, providing easy pitch and catch opportunities for the not-so-renowned-as-a-thrower Tim Tebow. If Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker could do that against Minnesota, what do you think Stafford, Megatron, Burleson, Titus Young, and Brandon Pettigrew will do?
Chances are they’ll pick up a few dumb penalties…and a lot of passing/receiving yards and touchdowns. Don’t be shocked if Stafford, at home in a must win game for the Lions, ends up as the top scoring player in fantasy football this week, even though I’m going to be a little conservative with my projection.
Matthew Stafford fantasy football Week 14 projection: 345 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Other start em QBs for Week 14:
- Rex Grossman faces a New England defense that made Dan Orlovsky startable last week. I would not start Grossman in a standard league, but he’s a solid two-QB league option this week; or a desperation fill-in with upside if your QB slot got hit by the injury bug.
- Philip Rivers looked like the old Philip Rivers Monday night, against a pretty good defense too. With his weapons healthy, and Buffalo on the schedule, Rivers is safe to deploy this week.
- Every week I scan for who is facing the Colts. This week it’s Joe Flacco. Play Joe Flacco. Even though the Ravens will likely run, run, run against Indianapolis, Flacco will throw enough to be useful. At the very least, he’s safe.
Sit Em QB: Michael Vick, PHI (at MIA)
Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.
I know that Michael Vick owners are salivating at the thought of Vick returning this week and leading them to fantasy glory down the stretch, but in a one-QB league I wouldn’t even think about starting Vick unless I didn’t have another top 20 option. There are two good reasons:
- Can you really trust Vick to stay healthy? No, you can’t. Really, you can’t trust him to stay healthy any week, but I’m especially leery about starting him without seeing him play a game since the rib injury.
- Have you seen what the Dolphins are doing lately? They’ve won four out of five games, giving up a total of four touchdowns in that span.
With so many elite QBs outperforming Vick this season, and many marginal ones with good matchups, why would you risk your one QB spot on Vick?
Don’t do it.
Michael Vick fantasy football Week 14 projection: 200 passing yards, 55 rushing yards, 1 total TD, 1 turnover
Other sit em QBs for Week 14:
- Those of you who relied on Andy Dalton early in the season need to look elsewhere. He’s starting to hit a rookie wall…and this week that wall is Houston and its ball control offense and stingy D.
- I’m not necessarily telling you to sit Tim Tebow, because he always finds a way to put up at least serviceable fantasy numbers. That said, don’t expect a reprise of last week when he faces the Bears.
- Josh Freeman has been a major disappointment this year. I know that Philip Rivers torched Jacksonville Monday night, but the JAX defense has been pretty stingy overall this year. There is more reason to trust Jacksonville’s D than to trust Freeman.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start em, Sit em RBs
Start Em RB: Ryan Mathews, SD (vs BUF)
As with the Stafford selection, I feel like I may be insulting your intelligence a bit with this pick; however, because Mathews has been so up and down, and because people always ask about him in the comment sections and live chats, I feel compelled to make my Week 14 love for him official.
First, consider that Mathews is red hot. He has two straight 100-yard games, and on Monday night he torched Jacksonville for 112 yards on a mere 13 carries. He also got into the end zone, which he doesn’t always do.
Second, consider his Week 14 opponent, the Bills, who are very generous to opposing running backs. And with Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ passing game getting going, there will be plenty of space for Mathews to roam; and we know how much he loves space.
Ryan Mathews fantasy football Week 14 projection: 115 yards rushing, 1 TD, 15 yards receiving
For the record, Mathews is clearly the #1 option in San Diego now over Mike Tolbert, though Tolbert still has some value as a flex option because he he’ll catch a few passes and get some goalline carries. But there is no debate right now between the two. Mathews is the guy.
Other start em RBs for Week 14:
- These should go without saying, but just to be sure: Ray Rice (v IND); Rashard Mendenhall v (CLE); Maurice Jones-Drew (v TB); Michael Turner (at CAR) – they are all top 10 options because of their proven ability and matchup.
- Adrian Peterson is supposed to play this week, at least that’s what I’m hearing. DO NOT ASK ME IF YOU SHOULD START HIM. Yes, you should. If he plays, he starts, even if the opponent is San Francisco (it’s not, it’s Detroit). End of discussion.
- Reggie Bush has to keep starting; and frankly, you should feel good about it at this point. With the Dolphins set to face the porous Eagles’ run defense, you should actually feel great about it.
- Shonn Greene is getting ready for another December heat up. He scored three TDs last week and faces the Chiefs this week. I like it.
- Looking deeper, C.J. Spiller is a decent option. He had 22 touches two weeks ago and 17 touches last week, and he’s picked up a few chunks under 200 yards with a TD during that span. You saw what MJD did the Chargers in a losing effort last week. Spiller could do about 75% of that…which is still good.
Sit Em RB: LeGarrette Blount, TB (at JAX)
Coming off of two 100-yard games, Blount looked like a surefire, slam dunk start against Carolina in Week 13. The Panthers have been the most generous defense to opposing running backs this year. What did Blount do? He punched 19 yards out of 11 carries. Yuck.
When it gets to playoff time, fantasy football is a lot like real football: you have to go with guys you can trust. It’s great that Blount has the potential for highlight reel leaps and thunderous trucks in any given week. He also can lay super eggs like he did last week. I don’t like kind of variance in my fantasy lineup in must-win scenarios.
Plus, I don’t like Blount’s matchup this week. Forget about what the Chargers did to the Jags last week. Jacksonville was dealing with turmoil galore and just happened to run into a Philip Rivers-led buzzsaw that was finally healthy. San Diego would have put up 20+ on San Francisco Monday night. Make no mistake: Jacksonville has a good defense, and they’ve been pretty stingy to opposing backs all year.
With Tampa Bay being frighteningly inconsistent as a team this year, and Blount dealing with a few unexpected distractions, I’m leaving him on my bench.
LeGarrette Blount fantasy football Week 14 projection: 13 carries, 40 yards, 0 TDs
Other sit em RBs for Week 14:
- Every week you should go down the list of running backs and see who is facing San Francisco. This week it’s Beanie Wells. Sit him. Even with the 49ers likely to be without Patrick Willis, they’ll shut down Arizona’s run game. Furthermore, it’s reasonable to fear Wells getting hurt mid-game. Add it up, and I don’t trust him this week, despite his strong play of late.
- Cedric Benson owners have a tricky decision this week. Benson faces a very good Houston defense, but he has also proven that he can produce against good defenses even when he isn’t racking up yards (see his 41-yard, 2-TD day versus Baltimore). Benson is not an automatic sit because of how big a part of Cincy’s offense he is, but he’s only a borderline top-20 guy because of the matchup, so if you’re loaded at RB he’d be the guy to leave on the bench.
- Did you know the Falcons have the 5th-stingiest fantasy defense against the run? It’s true. That means that there could be fewer points to go around for Cam, DeAngelo, and JStew this week. Since Cam seems to be the one who gets most of the TDs, I’d consider leaving the other two on my bench unless desperate. (Remember: all that production the last two weeks has come against Indy and Tampa.)
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start em, Sit em WRs
Start Em WR: Jabar Gaffney, WAS (v NE)
Yes, I realize that by telling you to start Jabar Gaffney that I am essentially asking you to have faith in Rex Grossman; but I urge you not to look at it that way. Think about it more in terms of me telling you to not trust a Patriots secondary that gives up more average points per game to opposing wide receivers than any other defense in football.
You read that right. In fact, the Patriots give up 2.3 more fantasy points to opposing WRs than even the moribund Vikings do! Here, I’ll prove it.
- Gaffney has 12 catches for 187 yards over the last two weeks, including one touchdown.
- Santana Moss has been back for the last two weeks, but he only has nine catches for 71 yards; so clearly he is a) the second option for Grossman and b) helping to draw attention away from Gaffney.
- Fred Davis is suspended, meaning more targets to go around; and surely a few of those targets will go Gaffney’s way.
Gaffney doesn’t score with enough regularity to trust him for TD production, so that makes him barely a top-20 option; but I think you can trust him to give you 6-8 catches and close to 100 yards. If you play three wide receivers, it’s nice to be able to bank on that from one of them.
Jabar Gaffney fantasy football Week 14 projection: 7 catches, 90 yards, .5 TDs (because I think he’ll catch one, but it’s probably more likely that he doesn’t…so don’t expect it.)
Other start em WRs for Week 14:
- I like Torrey Smith this week. He’s struggled the last two weeks, but Baltimore has faced the 49ers and Browns, two teams that have been pretty good against opposing receivers. This week Baltimore faces Indianapolis. Yes, I just chuckled devilishly too.
- Laurent Robinson was finally held out of the end zone last week, but he still amassed 70+ yards on four catches. With Miles Austin slated to return this week, you might be tempted to sit Robinson. I wouldn’t. Tony Romo trusts him, and the Giants are generous to opposing wide receivers. Of the two, give me the guy who has been playing the last two months and caught seven TDs in six games.
- I wouldn’t get down on Steve Smith despite his decreasing production the last month. Atlanta will force Carolina to pass, and the Panthers are without Brent Grimes in the secondary. I expect fireworks from the original Steve Smith.
- When he’s healthy, all Malcom Floyd does is produce. He’s healthy, the matchup is good, and I don’t care if he’s third fiddle in SD’s passing game. Start him.
Sit Em WR: Brandon Lloyd, STL (at SEA)
I’ve been high on Lloyd ever since he came over to St. Louis, and most of the time I’ve been right. Even though the Rams’ offense sucks, Lloyd has been able to carve out a niche as the lone consistent fantasy producer. I’m not sure how he’s done it, but he has.
Last week, however, Lloyd tallied only one catch against the mighty 49ers, and things aren’t looking too good this week. Not only is Sam Bradford dinged up, but his normal backup A.J. Feeley is hurt too. That means that…wait for it…Tim Brandstater could be starting at QB for St. Louis.
Combine the Rams’ woeful offense with this QB uncertainty, and then mix in Seattle’s underrated defense at home, and you have a recipe for a sit ’em.
Brandon Lloyd fantasy football Week 14 projection: 2 receptions, 40 yards
Other sit em WRs for Week 14:
- Dwayne Bowe is on Revis Island this week, and he still has Tyler Palko tossing him the pigskin. Just didn’t want you to forget.
- I’m not telling you to sit them automatically, because both have been consistently productive this year, but just know that Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are facing the stingiest pass defense in the league. Granted, the Browns’ pass D numbers are skewed because teams just gash them with the run…but still, 12 weeks is a long time and receivers underperform against Cleveland on a weekly basis. If you have comparable options, go with them this week.
- The Redskins are stingier than you might think against opposing wide receivers. Play Gronk and Wes Welker for sure, but this is a week when Deion Branch doesn’t have a great deal of upside.
- Remember what I said above regarding my dislike for variance? Well, Julio Jones is the poster boy for wide receiver variance this year. Since Carolina is actually decent against the pass, Jones is another guy who is not an automatic sit…but who I’d have a hard time starting in a must-in situation because of how unpredictable he is.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start em, Sit em TEs
Start Em TE: Kellen Winslow, TB (at JAX)
Despite their defensive consistency this year (minus Week 13) Jacksonville hasn’t been great against opposing tight ends. They actually give up the third most fantasy points per week to them.
Combine this with my distrust in the Bucs’ running game, and the Bucs’ inconsistency at wide receiver this year, and Kellen Winslow seems like, at worst, a safe and reliable option this week. You could do worse from your tight end in a big spot.
Kellen Winslow fantasy football Week 14 projection: 6 receptions, 60 yards, .5 TDs (again, I’m splitting the difference here; because of the matchup I think he can get one, but he only has two on the year.)
Other start em TEs for Week 14:
- If you’re desperate, consider Kevin Boss. The Packers give up more points to opposing tight ends than anyone, and the Raiders have had constant issues with their wide receivers this year.
- Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis are big but inconsistent names who I think you should trust this week because of matchups.
Sit Em TE: Jermaine Gresham, CIN (v HOU)
It’s tough to put Gresham here, because he’s been playing much better lately; and he really should have two more touchdowns if controversial calls had gone his way. Still, the Texans’ defense locks down opposing tight ends like few others, so as tough as Gresham is to sit, it’s even tougher to trust him.
Jermaine Gresham fantasy football Week 14 projection: 4 receptions, 35 yards
Other sit em TEs for Week 14:
- Scott Chandler has actually been decently productive without scoring touchdowns over the last few weeks. However, his production has come against the Jets and Dolphins, two teams that are more generous to opposing tight ends than the Chargers are.
- Aaron Hernandez is far from a must-sit, but he is no longer 1b to Rob Gronkowski’s 1a in New England. Gronk is clearly #1, with Hernandez picking up the scraps as #2. That still usually means 4-5 catches and 45-50 yards per week, but the touchdowns just haven’t been there. Project accordingly.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start em, Sit em D/STs
Start Em D/ST: Seattle Seahawks (v STL)
The Seahawks have been a better fantasy defense than you might think this year, and they typically play better at home. Mix in a little Tim Brandstater (if Sam Bradford can’t go) and you have all the makings of a safe, potentially explosive fantasy defense for Week 14.
Seattle Seahawks D/ST fantasy football Week 14 projection: 10 or fewer points, several sacks, 2+ turnovers
Other start em D/STs for Week 14:
- The Broncos should get Von Miller back, and they get to face a Bears’ offense that is without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte.
- The New York Jets have fallen quite a way from the must-start-against-anyone status of a couple years back, but I do like them this week against the Kansas City Palkos.
Sit Em D/ST: Dallas Cowboys (v NYG)
The Cowboys have been too up and down for my tastes this year. While Demarcus Ware is always around to get some sacks, and Eli Manning could always revert back to 3-INT Eli, I think this game will be a shootout, and frankly I don’t really want any part of either defense.
Dallas Cowboys D/ST fantasy football Week 14 projection: 24 or more points, two sacks, 1 turnover
Other sit em D/STs for Week 14:
- Detroit’s defense might seem inviting against the 2-10 Vikings, but remember that Suh is out, Peterson is back, and Ponder-to-Harvin has become one of the most dangerous duos in the NFL.
- The Miami Dolphins have been playing pretty good defense lately; yet, even with that, and the fact that I’m telling you to sit Michael Vick this week, the presence of LeSean McCoy and Andy Reid still scares me enough to say that I wouldn’t want the Dolphins’ D starting for me in a must-win situation. The Eagles’ may suck, but they do have explosive capabilities that could, well, explode at any minute.
And that’s it! Another successful start/sit column in the books. Now it’s on to your questions. Have at the comment section, and we’ll be back all week to answer.
Also, since several of you have asked how you can help support MSF for the time we take, quite joyfully, to help you with your fantasy teams each week, I’ll just suggest checking out Daily Joust. You’ve seen me discussing them a lot this season, and they really do have a fun package of weekly fantasy games for you to play, from college to pro. Shoot, Keith Mullett thinks it’s “the best alternative to fantasy sports and gambling ever.“
Click here or on the image below, and if you become a paying member at Daily Joust we’ll end up getting a cut of the money. No pressure, just a suggestion that I’d make regardless of our affiliate status with them, and one that would help us out if you obliged.
Note: I used ESPN’s Points Against tool as a reference while writing this post.