If you’re looking for QB, TE, or DEF plays for Week 14, take a look at this week’s waiver wire article.
Start your studs, workhorses, and 3-down guys!
You have to be encouraged by how well Freeman ran against Minnesota last week, who has a tough rush defense. The Saints haven’t been as good, allowing 4.6 yards per carry this year. The reason why teams haven’t had much success running against the Saints, however, is because they usually fall into negative game scripts and have to abandon the run. Will the Saints get out to a huge lead, forcing Atlanta to run the ball tonight? Vegas thinks it’s going to be a close one with a spread of only 2.5. If that holds true, Freeman should be viable throughout the game against a team that is 27th DVOA against the run.
Dion Lewis/Rex Burkhead
I would start both of these guys in a good matchup against the Dolphins with the Patriots favored by 11 points. Lewis has had 14+ carries in 4 of the last 5 games along with some work in the passing game, and Rex is getting touches in both the run and pass game as well, along with goal line work. I would trust both of these guys this week as they’ve been getting it done.
Theo Riddick (only if Ameer Abdullah misses)
Riddick dominated the backfield snap share last week with Abdullah out, so if Abdullah misses again this week, I would be open to playing Riddick in PPR leagues only against Tampa Bay, who is 22nd DVOA against pass-catching RBs.
Peyton Barber (only if declared starter)
A bunch of us picked up Barber last week for the upside of him winning the starting RB job, but we have to wait and find out if he in fact will be the starter this week. If he is announced as the starter, this is a great matchup to start him in. The Lions have been terrible against RBs lately, giving up at least one rushing TD in almost every game this year. I actually stopped counting back towards the beginning of the year, because it’s enough to know how much they’ve given up lately. I am not as confident in Doug Martin (who has made it out of the concussion protocol) to continue that trend, as he has been terrible this year. Peyton Barber’s performance last week now lets us know that the lack of production in the backfield wasn’t just a product of the offensive line.
After Joe Mixon went down with a concussion on MNF, Gio Bernard came in and played on every subsequent snap. Brian Hill, the only other active RB, didn’t see the field once. On a short week, Mixon might have a tough time to make his way out of the concussion protocol, so Bernard becomes a must-start in Week 14 if Mixon misses. Bernard played very well in place of Mixon last week, ripping off chunks on early downs. That combined with his expertise of catching the football makes him a very safe play next week. Bernard is only $3100 on DraftKings this week as well, so expect him to be the chalk, but he’ll be a must-play because of his price to touch ratio. Expect Bernard to get close to 20 touches this week, and he should have a good day, especially in PPR leagues.
I’m okay starting Davis, even in this tough matchup against Jacksonville, and that’s because he’s involved in the passing game. He should get enough touches in both the run and pass game to salvage some fantasy production. He played on the vast majority of snaps last week, even on 3rd down, so we should expect something similar this week. Davis is a bruising back, so it’s possible he wears down some of those defenders by the 2nd half, assuming this game stays close. Marcell Darius definitely helped Jacksonville’s rush D, but Frank Gore and Marlon Mack still had some success against them last week, and so did Adrian Peterson the week prior.
I would start McKinnon over Latavius Murray this week. They’ve both been getting touches, but Carolina is a tougher matchup when it comes to running the ball (5th best DVOA) when compared to defending pass-catching RBs (16th best DVOA), which is what McKinnon is best at. Since this game is in Carolina, I would expect the game to be a bit more competitive, and there will be a need to mix in McKinnon on some screens and check downs. Ingram and Kamara combined for 13 catches against Carolina last week, so if McKinnon can get half of that, you should be looking at a decent day from him.
He’s not a must-start, but I’m okay starting him this week. With Josh Gordon in the fold now, this offense takes a step forward, and the Browns can have a better chance of moving the ball without the Packers’ perimeter corners potentially playing in this game. The Packers can be run on, and outside of the game against the Jaguars, Crowell and that offensive line have been playing well lately. I don’t expect the Packers to get out to a huge lead in this game and take Crowell out of the game script, especially at home.
Morris is not a must-start either because of the possibility of the Cowboys getting into a negative game script away from home; it’s probably not likely, but we have to address that possibility and reduce our risk as much as possible in the playoffs. Morris does have upside, because if the Cowboys can get control of this game, he can get some real volume as we saw last week against the Redskins. Dallas is favored by 4.5 points in New York, so it’s a safer bet that Morris should be able to get a decent workload this week.
Outside of his game against Jalen Ramsey, Larry has played tremendously at home this season. This week, he gets Tennessee, who has allowed the 4th most fantasy points to slot WRs this year, and have given up the 4th most over the last 4 games as well. He’s averaging 10 targets over the last 5 games, so don’t get cute during the playoffs and bench him for your shiny new player. We have yet to see the 2nd half decline that we saw last year, so keep rolling with him.
Of course you’re starting AJ Green. Just want to point out that he has a mouth-watering matchup against Kyle Fuller this week, who has been Chicago’s worst corner by far. The Bears have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to WRs lining up on his side of the field.
I was hesitant on Gordon’s return, but I know what I saw last week. Gordon is back, and he’s the new #1 WR for the Browns. Corey Coleman didn’t catch a single ball last week in Gordon’s 2017 debut, so we know that the Browns made a real effort to get Gordon the rock with 11 targets. Gordon lined up all over the place last week against the Chargers, and he’ll have an advantage wherever he lines up this week against the banged-up Packers secondary. Kevin King was placed on IR and Devin House might not play either, which leaves the perimeter a place where Gordon can really take advantage. These corners were already struggling, giving up 0.41 and 0.40 fantasy points per route run, respectively, so I can’t imagine that whoever ends up replacing those guys will be any good. Get Gordon in your lineup this week.
Bryant has been hit or miss all season, but he should produce against the Giants who are without their top outside corner in Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins has shut down Bryant in the past, but with him on IR, Bryant should be able to take advantage of the mismatch whether lines up across from Ross Cockrell or Eli Apple.
Marvin Jones/Golden Tate
Keep an eye on Matt Stafford’s hand injury, and monitor whether he’ll play and/or if it can affect his play. Jones and Tate are great starts this week against a very weak Bucs secondary, but if Stafford doesn’t play I wouldn’t start either if I had another decent option. Assuming Stafford is okay, The Bucs have allowed production to WRs regardless of where they line up, and all of their corners are allowing fantasy production. Stafford should be able to pick this secondary apart if he’s good to go.
Lee primarily lines up on the outside, and will see both Byron Maxwell and Shaq Griffin. Maxwell was brought in to replace Richard Sherman, but he’s given up some big plays since. He did have the interception last week, but didn’t have a great game overall. Over the last 4 games, the Seahawks have given up the 6th most fantasy points to receivers lining up on the right side of the field, where Lee lines up on a majority of his routes. Lee’s been a target hog, averaging almost 11 targets per game in 4 of the last 5 games (not counting the Patrick Peterson game), and that volume makes me confident in him this week.
Tyreek has been up and down all season. He had an amazing game last week against the Jets, so we should expect a dud game this week right? Probably not. He’s going up against the Raiders, who have given up 9 40+ yard passing plays this year. Since 2016, Hill leads the NFL in 50+ yard TDs. That sounds like a match that I’m willing to bet on this week with Hill in my lineup. The Oakland corners have been playing better on the perimeter, but David Amerson has given up a ton of production to his side of the field, so let’s hope the Chiefs exploit that matchup. The Raiders also have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs lining up in the slot over the last 4 weeks. With Hill not spending a majority of his time in any particular WR position, he should be able to catch this defense off guard at some point on Sunday.
Eli is back, so Shepard should be as well. As of this writing, Shepard was nursing a hamstring injury, so it remains to be seen whether he plays or not. If he does play, he should take advantage of the fact that Orlando Scandrick is out… not that Scandrick was playing particularly well anyway. Dallas wasn’t doing a great job covering the slot, allowing the 9th most fantasy points over the last 4 games to the position. Shepard should see close to double digit targets as he has been seeing with Manning, so he’ll be in my lineup this week assuming he’s good to go.
Crabtree has a dream matchup this week against the Chiefs. He’s usually had his production limited by Marcus Peters historically, but with Peters suspended by the Chiefs this week, Crabtree should get work. If you think Marshawn Lynch is the goal line option for the Raiders, think again. This is more anecdotal than anything, but whenever I see the Raiders 1st and goal from the 1 or 2 yard line, the play is either a back shoulder or a fade to Crabtree. Then they might run it on 2nd, fail, and then try Crabtree again. I digress. The Chiefs aren’t sure how much Darrelle Revis will play this week, but whoever lines up on the perimeter will be taken advantage of. We saw what Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse did to them last week, and that was with Peters on the field. Start Crab with confidence against the defense that is up near giving up the most fantasy points to WRs, depending on your scoring format.
If you’re a skilled slot receiver, chances are you’ve had your fair of good matchups. With Jarius Wright making his way in as the #3 WR for the Vikings, he has been playing more of the slot with Thielen playing more on the outside than he has all season; he ran only 34% of his routes from the slot in Week 13, which is a season low. Thielen has primarily run routes from the slot position this year, but by moving to the outside, there are a couple of likely outcomes. One is that he will draw tougher matchups. We all want him to go up against a Panthers team that has given up the most fantasy points to slot WRs over the last 4 weeks, but he won’t see as much time there, and will instead see a lot of Daryl Worley, who contributed to the Panthers giving up the least amount of fantasy points to his side of the field. The positive side of this change is that Thielen will be in position for bigger plays, since slot WRs usually run short to intermediate patterns. I’m not worried about the change, but it should be noted as to how we think of him going forward. By the way, Diggs has a great matchup against James Bradberry, and Thielen should see some of him as well this week. With Thielen likely to move all around the formation, I’m starting him this week to take advantage of this struggling Panthers secondary. Thanks to Mike Clay for the stats on Thielen’s role change.
Jimmy Garoppolo did pretty well in his first start as a 49er, and Goodwin was a huge beneficiary. Goodwin was doing his thing with CJ Beathard, but Garoppolo actually brings an element of control to this offense. Goodwin caught all 8 of his targets for 99 yards in Week 13, and can be someone you rely on down the stretch as a WR3. He showed his skills as a possession receiver, but we all know that his true skillset is flying down the field to make plays, so that should come as well. Goodwin should have a safe floor going forward with the 49ers likely being in negative game scripts, and gives you a nice ceiling if he pops a long one for a TD. He has two great matchups in Houston and Tennessee, followed by a tough spot against Jacksonville in Week 16. Houston has given up a ton of fantasy points to WRs, and if it feels like they haven’t lately, that’s because they went up against Baltimore and Arizona the last 2 weeks. The 4 weeks before that was brutal; they gave up huge games to Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson, TY Hilton, Robert Woods (even Sammy got in on the action), and Larry Fitzgerald. Goodwin is good at the long bomb too right? Well, they’ve given up the most 40+ yard passing plays this season. Start Goodwin this week.
Desperate WR Starts
With Gronk out this week, Amendola becomes more of a viable option. If you take a look at Week 5 when Gronk missed a Thursday night football game, Amendola played a season high in snaps, ran a season high in routes, and caught a season high 8 balls for 77 yards. Amendola should have that short to intermediate, middle of the field role with Gronk out this week. He’s a decent play if you don’t have too many options at WR.
Don’t look now, but Sammy Watkins has caught a TD in 4 of his last 5 games coming out of their bye, including 2 TDs in the 2 games without Robert Woods. He saw 9 targets in Week 12, but only saw 4 targets in a game where Patrick Peterson shadowed him on 85% of routes in Week 13. I expect that to shoot back up this week with Ronald Darby on him most of the time; Darby hasn’t played too well since he came back from injury, contributing to giving up the 13th most fantasy points to WRs lining up on his side of the field. For whatever reason, he’s being targeted on nearly a third of every route run against him, so Watkins should be able to see some work in this game. Also, with Patrick Robinson on Cooper Kupp, more targets might need to flow Watkins’ way.
Westbrook has played well since being activated, and is making a bit of a transition to the perimeter, rather than running most of his routes from the slot like he was initially doing. He caught 6 passes in each of the last 2 games, and should see some of Byron Maxwell, who has been giving up some fantasy points to wide receivers since he became a Seahawk. The Seahawks are giving up the 6th most fantasy points to WRs on his side of the field currently, while Shaq Griffin has been doing a decent job lately on his side of the field. Westbrook is a good PPR play, but has the talent to go deep as well to provide some upside.
Golladay played on a season-high 76% of snaps last week against Baltimore, so expect him to play a ton against the Bucs weak secondary. He moves all around the formation, should he should be able to take advantage of any of their sub-par corners for a big play. Golladay is a pure ceiling play, and offers a limited floor; he’s caught only 2 passes in each of the last 4 games, but has averaged 27.6 yards per catch over that span, which is pretty awesome. He’s a big play receiver who just needs some volume to become a huge threat.
Wallace is now the #1 WR for the Ravens. It’s ugly, but it’s true. Jeremy Maclin has underperformed or has been hurt the entire season, so he’s very hard to trust. There isn’t anything about Wallace that will tell you he’s a good start. He’s not getting consistent targets, but he can get 6-8 targets. He’s not consistently producing yardage, but he’ll get TDs. When he’s not getting TDs, he’ll give you a 100 yard game as he did last week. You can’t really put your finger on it, so he’s a desperation play because of that. With that said, the Steelers secondary has struggled without Joe Haden in the lineup and has been exposed over the last few weeks, especially where Haden was lining up. Coty Sensabaugh got destroyed by AJ Green last week, but got benched in the second half. No word on who’ll be starting at left corner this week, but Wallace can probably do some work against this secondary. The Ravens haven’t really needed to throw the ball much over the last few weeks, but this being a more competitive game leads me to believe the volume should be there. Update: Jeremy Maclin was downgraded to DNP on Thursday, so there’s a legit chance he doesn’t play. This would upgrade Wallace.
Diggs has really disappointed lately, and he’s a tough start. If you believe in the talent, which is most definitely still there, start him this week against James Bradberry, who has been giving up a ton of fantasy points lately. As a matter of fact, the Panthers have given up the most fantasy points to WRs lining up on his side of the field, where Diggs runs a majority of his routes from. We thought Diggs was going to get it done against Atlanta without Trufant, but the Falcons did a good job against him. With Bradberry struggling and being targeted like he is, I would categorize Diggs as an upside play this week.
As I mentioned above with Crabtree, Cooper has a great matchup this week. I wouldn’t expect the 19 targets he saw against the Chiefs in Week 7, and that’s because Marcus Peters is out and will not be primarily covering Crabtree. Because of that, the targets should be distributed more evenly, with the majority of them probably leaning towards Crabtree’s side. Cooper is nursing an ankle injury this week even after clearing the concussion protocol, so he’s not a lock to play this week. If he plays after not practicing all week, keep in mind that Carr would have been throwing to Crabtree, and not Cooper, during every practice. Cooper is a good play because of the matchup, but monitor his practice status this week. Update: He did not practice on Thursday.
With Juju Smitch-Schuster out this week, Bryant should get a boost in targets. Bryant has had an almost identical stat line between Weeks 12 and 13, catching 4 of 6 targets for 40 yards, but caught a TD when Juju missed the Week 12 game. Baltimore’s secondary is undermanned without Jimmy Smith this week, and Brandon Carr has been okay on his side of the field. With the Steelers at home, Bryant could have a decent game.
Jimmy Garoppolo went 14 for 14 when targeting Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Taylor caught all 6 of his targets, and is a decent PPR option with Jimmy G moving this offense pretty well. He led 5 scoring drives, none of them being touchdowns, but did control and move the offense. Taylor is a talented receiver with good hands, and can be Jimmy’s short to intermediate possession option. Kareem Jackson has done a decent job against slot corners, but the Texans are in the middle of the pack in giving up fantasy points, so I wouldn’t be too worried about the matchup for Taylor.
WRs to Temper Expectations On
Funchess saved fantasy owners last week with a touchdown in garbage time, and it’ll be tough to depend on that this week in a tough matchup against Xavier Rhodes. There’s no doubt Rhodes had a bad game against Marvin Jones on Turkey Day, but you can’t help but downgrade Funchess when you look at Rhodes’ body of work. Going into Week 14, Rhodes is allowing only 0.25 fantasy points per route run against him. For some context, before that game against the Lions, Rhodes was averaging 0.19 fantasy points per route run. Funchess is a big receiver who can reach up and catch a TD, so it’s tough to bench the guy, but I’ll be looking to see if I have another option in a similar tier.
Kupp is Goff’s guy right now with Robert Woods out, but hopefully we see more volume and production out of him than we saw last week in a good matchup against the Cardinals. The expectation was close to 10 targets again, but it didn’t happen. In a more competitive game this week against the Eagles, Kupp should see some volume. However, he’s going up against Patrick Robinson, who has been allowing the 2nd least fantasy points to slot WRs this season. He’s shut down some good slot receivers this season, and Kupp might be on that list. I would still play him in PPR in the hopes for some volume if I don’t have other good options.
Robby Anderson/Jermaine Kearse
As bad as the Broncos defense has been this year compared to their normal selves, they’ve been pretty solid against WRs outside of whoever’s going up against Bradley Roby. Talib has done a good job on his side of the field, and so has Chris Harris in the slot. Robby Anderson is limited in practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury, so keep an eye on that. Assuming he plays, he does move around the formation enough, but only plays on Roby’s side about 29% of the time. It would be smart to have him play a bit more on that side if possible in this game to take advantage of that matchup. Jermaine Kearse has been playing more slot since Jeremy Kerley went out with a suspension, so he has a tough matchup with Chris Harris. I’m personally trying to find another option for both of these guys, especially Kearse, who’s been up and down all season. Check out my waiver wire article from earlier this week, where I talk more about Kearse. It’s tough to bench Robby, who’s been on fire, so I’m okay playing him; just don’t have such high expectations for him.
Baldwin draws another tough matchup this week, going up against Aaron Colvin, who’s been great against slot WRs. It’s also possible that Jalen Ramsey shadows him, as we’ve seen him do against slot WR Larry Fitzgerald. Shadow corners rarely cover the slot, but it seems Ramsey is an exception, so it’s possible. I’m looking to avoid Baldwin this week and will only bench him if I have another decent option. I can’t afford for Baldwin to only get a few points in the fantasy playoffs.
Darius Slay is expected to shadow Mike Evans, so it’ll be a tough matchup for the underperforming WR. Evans only saw 6 targets last week and what should have been a great spot against the Packers. With the rapport not quite there right now between him and Jameis, along with Slay shadowing Evans, it’ll be hard to expect Evans to produce WR1 numbers this week.
Crowder has been money lately, even with his bad game last week; he still caught 5 of 7 targets for 67 yards. He’s still the #1 WR for the Redskins, but will have a tough matchup this week against the Chargers. Desmond King doesn’t get a lot of love, but he’s been fantastic in the slot this year, giving up the 3rd least fantasy points to slot WRs. Crowder has overcome tough matchups like this earlier in the year, so I’m not frantically looking for another option. You have to think the Redskins will be under a lot of pressure from San Diego’s pass rush, so Crowder should be the #1 read when Kirk has to get the ball out quick.
Note: These are just the guys who I don’t prefer for Week 14, and you obviously might not have a choice to sit some of these guys in deeper leagues. For example, I’m probably not going to sit Kareem Hunt or Jordan Howard in a 14 team league unless I somehow have some better options.
Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders
This offense is in shambles right now, and can hardly keep drives alive. I hate benching these guys, but we can’t trust them in the first week of our fantasy playoffs. DT has seen 8 and 10 targets over the last 2 weeks, but has a total of 45 yards. Sanders has 6 and 7 targets over the last 2, and has a total of 23 yards. By the way, these games were against Miami and Oakland. I’m trying to find another option this week.
Inman is hard to trust in that offense right now. We thought he would get solid volume as the #1 WR, but the Bears ran something like 35 plays last week. That’s just not going to get it done for fantasy purposes. Inman will likely see a lot of William Jackson III, who played great in his time lined up against Antonio Brown last week. No thanks, I’ll try to find another option.
We’re really hanging our hat on late touchdowns from Josh Doctson, because he’s totaled 54 yards over the last 2 weeks. TD dependent guys get you in trouble, but if you don’t have any other options, I get it. This week he’ll see Casey Hayward though, so you might want to try to find that other option.
With Josh Gordon seeing 11 targets in his first game back, and Catchless Coleman relegated to the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th option, arguably behind David Njoku and Duke Johnson, it’ll be tough to trust Coleman in the playoffs. Maybe with a week under their belt, they try to distribute the targets a bit more to use Coleman’s talent, but we don’t know that it will happen; to have him in our lineups this week is a real gamble.
Oh, how far we have come. I think most of you can play Howard, but I’ll put him in this section because that’s where I’m leaning the most. You just can’t trust Howard right now. He hasn’t had more than 15 carries in the last 4 weeks since the Bears’ bye week, and went over 54 yards just once. In games like the ones against the 49ers, where you would expect the Bears to give Howard 20+ carries, he only had 13 for 38 yards. Can we trust Howard in the first week of the playoffs when he’s not involved in the passing game? If the Bengals go up at home, forget about Howard even being on the field. Because of that possibility, it’ll be hard for me to start Howard – assuming I have other options. There’s no doubt he can blow up any week when you’re least expecting it, but I don’t know if I want to take that chance in the playoffs.
Yet another RB that I will be sitting during playoff time. If he goes off this week, he goes off. But the real question is can I trust him to get it done for me in a week where I have to win no matter what, and the answer for me is no. He’s had some great matchups lately, and for whatever reason, whether it was lack of touches, lack of first half usage, his own ineffectiveness, whatever, he hasn’t gotten it done. This is a good matchup for him, but I’ll be looking for another option if I have someone. That’s a huge if, so if I don’t have someone who can see 15-20 touches, I’ll probably play Hunt.
Jamaal Williams (depending on Aaron Jones’ situation)
We need to know more about this backfield before we can start either guy. Williams has been getting it done with Aaron Jones out, and even with Jones back last week. Jones only saw 2 touches, with one of them being the game-winning TD in overtime. You have to think that Jones wouldn’t be too involved in his first game back, so the obvious questions are: Will Jones’ be more involved, how involved will he be, will Jamaal Williams still start, will this be a timeshare? If we don’t get any answers to this question, I’m personally sitting Williams this week. There’s no doubt that the possibility of Williams getting the vast majority of touches again is there, but we just don’t know, and we can only assume with the situation is if we don’t get word from the Packers’ coaching staff giving us clues about how the backfield will shake out. Keep an eye on this situation, as Williams can easily move from the Sit section of this article to the Start section… and I can say the same about Aaron Jones, as well.
DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry
Can we trust either of these guys right now? Probably not. Derrick Henry had another long TD when the Titans were basically in kneel-down mode, but other than that, what are you hanging your hat on? This is a complete timeshare between the two, so if I can find another option, I’ll be looking in that direction.
Collins is more of a temper expectations than a straight up bench. I’m all about reducing risk in my lineup as much as possible in the playoffs. Is there a possibility that the Ravens get into a negative game script against the Steelers in Pittsburgh? Probably. Collins should be able to get a decent workload in the first half, but the possibility of his workload being reduced in the second half is there. If you have solid pieces in your lineup otherwise or don’t have other options, he’s an okay start with the hopes that with the Ravens defense playing well, the game can stay close enough for Collins to maintain his role throughout.