2018 Fantasy Football: Week 14 Sunday start ’em or sit ’em
By Joe Hopkins
It’s playoff time, baby! Rolling out your optimal lineup is critical, as there is no tomorrow. We here at Roto Street Journal have been studying the matchups all week and keeping a watchful eye on the injury reports. I can guarantee we will tackle your fantasy dilemmas better than Jacksonville tackled Derrick Henry Thursday night. Overall, I have to be pleased with the results of last week’s Start/Sits. I wisely suggested benching guys like Matt Ryan, Baker Mayfield, Marlon Mack and Tevin Coleman. As always, I had my misses as well. Players such as Dak Prescott, D.J. Moore and Cameron Brate weren’t nearly as productive as I thought they’d be. Being wrong is frustrating but
I make these suggestions based on each player’s weekly matchups, surrounding talent and in-game usage. While predicting the future is anything but easy, using these tools can help us make better choices when determining which players we start or sit from week to week.
Let me remind you that this list consists of players who aren’t obvious. I shouldn’t have to tell you to start the Todd Gurleys, Aaron Rodgers and Antonio Browns of the world. This article revolves around players who haven’t yet reached “stud” status, and thus require weekly consideration for your lineup. For more help with your lineup check out The Wolf’s weekly rankings.
They don’t get much safer than Rivers, who is the only player to throw multiple touchdown passes in every game this season. But more exciting than his floor this Sunday is his ceiling. The Chargers play at home this week versus a Bengals defense that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game (279.9). No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than Cincinnati.
The Colts rank 15th in terms of fantasy points surrendered to opposing quarterbacks. They also haven’t faced a top-ten fantasy quarterback all season. In week four Watson scored the most fantasy points of any passer Indy has played thus far. He threw for 375 yards and two scores while adding 41 yards and a touchdown with his legs. Playing in Houston this time around, I expect Watson to produce a similar stat-line this Sunday.
Mike McCarthy’s reluctancy to feature Jones in the run game was likely a determining factor in his firing. Interim head coach Joe Philbin would be wise not to make the same mistake, as Jones clearly has more ability than his counterpart Jamaal Williams. This week Green Bay hosts an Atlanta team than has allowed the third-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. The Falcons have given up the fourth-most rushing touchdowns (14) on the year.
Rex Burkhead’s return had more of an impact on James White’s snap rate than Michel’s. The rookie still saw 17 carries and caught his only target last week but was stifled by a stout Vikings defense. Michel’s matchup this Sunday will offer far less resistance. The Dolphins have surrendered the fourth-most yards per carry (5.0) and the seventh-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing running backs.
Part tight end, part running back, all offensive weapon. Though Samuels may not be elite in any one category, his versatility is perfect for the Steelers, who require pass-catching proficiency out of their backfield. A successful goal-line runner in college, Samuels should get his opportunity to punch it in when Pittsburgh approaches pay-dirt. With James Conner on the mend, Samuels has a prime opportunity to make an impression against a Raiders defense that has allowed the fourth-most yards per carry (5.0).
In his five games since being acquired by the Cowboys, Cooper has averaged eight targets, six catches and 85 yards per game, while hauling in three touchdowns. He’ll look to add to those numbers this week against a banged-up Eagles defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers. Philadelphia has given up the seventh-most passing yards per game (264.3).
The question with Godwin was never about talent, but more so with usage. DeSean Jackson was sidelined by a thumb injury last week, which led to Godwin playing a season-high 80% of the offensive snaps. The extra playing time resulted in five catches for 101 yards and a score. Jackson hasn’t been able to practice all week and could eventually land on the IR. Godwin has an opportunity to replicate last week’s stats against a Saints defense that has surrendered the most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.
Chicago has allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns (4) and the second fewest rushing yards per game (85.8). However, the Bears aren’t as strong defending receivers and have given up seventh-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide-outs. As dominant as Todd Gurley has been, Sean
McVay is a smart man and will lean toward the path of least resistance. Woods leads the Rams in targets and hasn’t logged under 70 yards receiving in a game since week one.
Over the last four weeks, Cook has seen 28 targets, which has resulted in a 53.7 yards per game average and three touchdowns. 526 of Cook’s 709 receiving yards this season have come at home, which happens to be where Oakland plays this Sunday. The Steelers and their fourth-ranked scoring offense (28.8 PPG) visit this week and are likely to jump out to an early lead. Such a deficit would benefit Cook, as Oakland would be forced into a pass-heavy game-script.
Njoku has drawn five or more targets in three of his last four games. The Browns are at home this week facing a Panthers defense that has surrendered the third-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing tight ends. No team has given up more touchdowns to tight ends this season than Carolina (9). The matchup is right for Njoku to post quality numbers.
The Colts were averaging 29.5 points per game before being shutout by Jacksonville last week. The Jaguars have been stingy all season, giving up the third-fewest yards (315.6) and fifth-fewest points (20.2) on a per game basis. Lately, they’ve created more of the big plays that made them so special last year, forcing multiple turnovers and multiple sacks in two of the last three weeks. Tonight, Jacksonville aims to feast on a Titans offense that has mustered up the fifth-fewest points (18.4) and yards (310.2) per game, while allowing the second-most sacks (42).
Results: 30 Points Allowed, 1 INT, 1 Safety, 1 Sack
Kansas City Chiefs:
Kansas City has held opposing offenses to just 17.6 points per game at Arrowhead Stadium this season. The Chiefs are one of four teams to rank top ten in both sacks (39) and turnovers forced (20). This week they host a Ravens team that has run the ball over 67% of the time since Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback. Expect KC to capitalize on Jackson’s mistakes, as the rookie will be forced to throw more than he’s comfortable with to keep pace with a Chiefs offense that leads the league in scoring (37 PPG).
Starting Cousins can be a boom or bust proposition. He’s recorded multiple turnovers in three of his last four games but has thrown for over 300 yards five times this season. Cousins visits Seattle this Sunday to face a defense that has given up the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. We could see a meager point total in a game that features two of the better defenses in the league.
Stafford has six touchdowns and nine turnovers over his last six games. Trades and injury have downgraded his receiving corps from one of the best in the NFL to one of the worst. This week Stafford travels to Arizona to play a defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers. Expect Detroit to be run-heavy versus a Cardinals defense that has surrendered the most rushing touchdowns (17) and the fourth-most rushing yards per game (140.9).
Matt Nagy’s scheme has not been kind to Howard, who played a season-low 41% of the offensive snaps last week. The Indiana alum has 12 100-yard games in 43 career contests but is yet to eclipse the century mark this season. Howard’s last touchdown was in week nine, and he faces Rams defense this Sunday that has given up the fifth-fewest rushing touchdowns (8) on the year.
A touchdown saved an otherwise underwhelming performance last week, as Ware averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in his first start of the season. Ware played 69% of the snaps in their first game without Kareem Hunt, but Kansas City is expected to lean more towards a committee approach moving forward. The team resigned Charcandrick West this week, who served as the Chiefs’ third down ‘back last season. This Sunday Ware will face a Ravens defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields.
Barber has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. This has kept him fantasy relevant despite a 2.7 yards per carry average over the last two weeks. This Sunday Barber plays a Saints defense that has held opposing rushers to the fewest yards per carry (3.5) and the third-fewest fantasy points (PPR).
The 28 points Philly put up last week were the most the Eagles have scored since week six. No one has been more affected by their mid-season slump than Jeffery. The veteran hasn’t found the endzone or surpassed 50 yards receiving since week seven. He’s seen just 13 targets over his last three games, and travels to Dallas this week to face a defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.
Baldwin entered the season hurt and has battled through injuries all year. While his effort is valiant, his production has dropped off substantially. The 30-year-old has exceeded 60 receiving yards just twice this season, which leaves him with a low floor if he doesn’t catch a touchdown. Baldwin can’t be trusted against a Vikings defense that has given up the fewest touchdown passes (15) and the sixth-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.
Consistent targets are beginning to translate into consistent production for Davis, who’s scored three touchdowns over his last four games. The issue this week lies in a brutal matchup with a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers. Jacksonville has surrendered the fewest passing touchdowns (15) and the third-fewest passing yards per game (207.2) this season.
Results: 2 REC, 21 Yards
Engram missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is slated to return Sunday. That by no means suggests he should enter your lineup. Engram has been a disappointment this year, posting double digit fantasy points (PPR) just twice. The Giants visit Washington this week to play a defense that has given up just three touchdowns to tight ends all season.
The roller coaster ride that is Hooper’s weekly fantasy output is likely to take a nosedive this Sunday. Atlanta travels to Green Bay this week to take on a defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing tight ends. The Packers have surrendered just one touchdown to a tight end all season.
Why bench the highest scoring defense in fantasy? The Rams are coming to town, that’s why. Los Angeles averages the second-most points (34.9) and yards (439.9) per game while committing the fourth-fewest turnovers (11) and allowing the ninth-fewest sacks (26). Though I don’t expect Chicago to just bend over, they’ll likely have to score a defensive touchdown to be worth a start this week.
This is another example of an excellent defense playing a better offense. Baltimore travels to Kansas City this week to play a Chiefs team that averages the most points per game (37). Andy Reid’s squad has put up the third-most yards per game (437.2), while allowing the fifth-fewest sacks (20) and committing the 11th-fewest turnovers (14).