Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em – Week 14
No More Byes!!!
Every week, there are certain fantasy studs who you simply have to start no matter what. Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and A.J. Green fall into that category, to name a few. There are also a good number of players you should probably sit each week as well. But then, there are those players whom you have no idea whether to start or sit. Here are a few not-so-obvious guys at each major fantasy position who you might not know what to do with, but for whom the stats and other information dictates one way or the other.
Andrew Luck (vs. Ten) – I’m a little surprised by the insane numbers Luck threw up against the Lions last week simply because his worst performances of the season had all come on the road. However, gaudy numbers are becoming more the norm with the youngster than anything else, so it really wasn’t THAT surprising. This week Luck returns to Indy to take on an improving Titans defense, but not good enough yet to stop Mr. Luck. In six games at home in the dome, Luck has averaged 293 yards while throwing for nine TDs compared to just three INTs. With the Colts secondary receivers (Donnie Avery, T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill) getting better and Coby Fleener returning to the lineup, Luck should be a nice QB1 this weekend.
Eli Manning (vs. NO) – It’ll be hard to trust Eli Manning after he was only able to muster up 280 yards and one touchdown against the one of the league’s three worst pass defenses this past week (Washington), but he’ll get another chance to silence his critics this Sunday with the New Orleans Saints coming to town. The Saints have allowed seven 300-yard games this season (two of them with 400-yards) and the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, so if Eli can’t put up QB1 numbers in this one, I’m waving the white flag on him this year. However, when he faced them in Week 12 last season, he threw for 406 yards and two TDs, so I expect Manning to at least show me a little something here.
Josh Freeman (vs. Phi) – Freeman had a big few weeks there in the earlier part of the season, but has put up just middle-of-the-road fantasy stats over his last five games. In fact, if not for the garbage-time points he put up last week against the Broncos, he wouldn’t have even been playable as a QB2! His downward trend aside, Week 14 is a whole different story as the Buccaneers will be facing the league’s worst defense over the last five weeks, the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. If you want to get out of a rut, I’d normally suggest playing the Saints but at this point, Big Josh should be just fine against the apathetic Eagles this Sunday. Get him in there.
Cam Newton (vs. Atl) – Who has the most fantasy points in the league over the last five weeks? Yep, it’s Cam Newton. It’s truly amazing how much of a difference it makes in fantasy football when you’re a quarterback who can run the ball. Newton’s overall passing stats are downright dreadful compared to the rest of the league, but those rushing numbers make up for it in spades. This week he’ll take on an inner-division Atlanta Falcons team that he put up over 30 fantasy points against back in Week 4. I don’t think he’ll be able to do quite that well again, but it’s certainly possible with the way he’s been playing lately.
Others with QB1 Potential:
Russell Wilson (vs. Ari)
Matthew Stafford (at GB, Sunday night)
Matt Schaub (at NE, Monday night)
Colin Kaepernick (vs. Mia)
Joe Flacco (at Was)
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. SD)
Sam Bradford (at Buf)
Doug Martin (vs. Phi) – The “Muscle Hamster” has been slowed of late rushing for just 106 yards on 2.7 yards-per-carry over his last two games, but if there’s a team you’d like to face when things aren’t going too well at this point, it’s the Philadelphia Eagles. Granted, the Eagles have allowed more through the air than on the ground during their recent downward spiral, but Martin is involved enough in the passing game to make a difference there as well, so I’m not too worried about that. I’ll be very surprised if the rookie doesn’t put up 125-plus total yards and at least one touchdown this Sunday.
Bryce Brown (at TB) – What a maniac this kid is! With LeSean McCoy out of the lineup for the last two weeks, Bryce Brown has run for 347 yards and four touchdowns on just 43 carries, which comes out to a whopping 8.1 YPC. The rookie is really something special to watch as he not only has a ton of power in his legs, but also more speed than you’d think for a 223-pound back. He runs with a rare ferocity that can sometimes get him into trouble considering his three fumbles in the last two games, but Andy Reid wouldn’t dare tell him to slow down at this point. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been pretty good against the run this season, but Brown is on too much of a roll right now to think he’ll do anything but put up RB1 numbers.
Trent Richardson (vs. KC) – So Richardson was held to less than four yards a carry again last week against the lowly Oakland Raiders, but as usual, he found a way to put up nice fantasy numbers on the day running in a late three-yard touchdown. It was the first time he failed to put up 100 total yards in a game since back in Week 7, but he’ll get it going again this Sunday against a mediocre Kansas City Chiefs defense. I’m a bit nervous about the dreaded “rookie wall” coming up to meet him sometime soon, but it won’t be this week.
Chris Johnson (at Ind) – CJ2K hasn’t been able to hit the 100-yard mark the last couple of games and was held to his lowest rushing total (51 yards) since Week 5 by the Texans last weekend. That being said, I believe his minor skid takes a turn for the better this Sunday playing in a dome against the Indianapolis Colts. Indy has allowed the sixth-most rushing touchdowns this season and the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs, so Johnson should have a real good chance at RB1 numbers here.
Jamaal Charles (at Cle) – As has been the case throughout his career, Jamaal Charles is still having a bit of trouble finding the end zone. However, he also just ran for his fifth 100-yard game last weekend and third in his last four games, so the kid is obviously on a bit of a roll. Not that it makes much of a difference, but Charles is averaging 109 yards a game against the AFC North this season with just the Cleveland Browns left to play. The Browns are probably the worst of the four teams (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh), but have been pretty stout on the defensive side of the ball lately. They’ve had a bit of trouble with the speedier running backs, though, so I expect Jamaal to have a couple of big runs and a RB1 type of day because of them.
Alfred Morris (vs. Bal) – Alfred Morris is a beast and continues to show it on a weekly basis. On Monday night, he was able to put up his fifth 100-yard game of the season, the most of any rookie RB in the league this year. This weekend he’ll be at home against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has been able to be beaten on the ground this season. They’ve actually done a lot better lately, but their best defensive player, Terrell Suggs, just went down to injury so they might not play up to their recent standards this Sunday.
Others with RB1 Potential:
Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. NO)
Matt Forte (at Min)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Dal)
C.J. Spiller (vs. StL)
Steven Jackson (at Buf)
DeMarco Murray (at Cin)
Michael Turner (at Car)
Knowshon Moreno (at Oak, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 32 rushes - 119 yards - 1 TD // 4 catches - 48 yards - 0 TDs
Fred Jackson (vs. StL)
Shonn Greene (at Jax)
Vick Ballard (vs. Ten)
Montell Owens (vs. NYJ)
Peyton Hillis (at Cle)
Vincent Jackson (vs. Phi) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if there’s one thing Vincent Jackson does really well for his fantasy owners, it’s that he takes full advantage of poor pass defenses. The Philadelphia Eagles defense, though not bad on paper, have already mailed in the season and look about as lethargic as I’ve ever seen a defense in this league. They’ve allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers in the last three weeks alone and 28 or more points in all six games since their Week 7 bye. V-Jax has already reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season on a career-high 20.3 yards per catch and could actually improve on that number with as many big plays as the Eagles have surrendered of late.
Victor Cruz (vs. NO) – It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Meadowlands Magician in 2012 as his hot start through the Giants first seven games was followed up by a less than stellar last five weeks. His rise back into the elite, however, starts this Sunday with the abysmal New Orleans Saints pass defense coming to town. Cruz has always played better at home, but particularly so this season with averages of 6.2 catches, 86.8 yards and one TD through the team’s first six games in New Jersey. Though the Saints defense has played better of late, they still allow the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, so Cruz should be able to grab top-10 numbers this weekend. If you need a last bit of confidence here, I’ll also tell you that Victor had his best fantasy day of the season against the Saints last year when he grabbed nine balls for 157 yards and two TDs in their matchup.
Brandon Marshall (at Min) – Holy crap has Brandon Marshall been on fire this season! I figured on him being dominant at times considering his long-awaited return to play with Jay Cutler, but other than A.J. Green, Marshall might be the most consistent wide receiver in all of fantasy this season. He’s recorded double-digit targets in all but three games and has nine or more catches in six of them. Two weeks ago against this same Minnesota Vikings team, Brandon tied a season-high with 12 receptions on 17 targets, though he was unable to snag one for a touchdown. If he sees even close to that many looks again this time around, he should be able to get into the end zone and put up WR1 stats for the day.
Julio Jones (at Car) – Julio Jones’ averages on the road this season pretty much say it all. In six games away from home, Jones has a monstrous weekly output of six catches for 102.3 yards and one touchdown per game. He’s had either 100 yards and/or a TD in five of those six games and should be able to make it a sixth this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Last year in Carolina, Jones had 103 yards and two TDs, numbers that could very well be matched in this one as the Panthers have had a tough time covering taller wide receivers all season long.
Andre Johnson (at NE, Monday night) – Andre came back down to Earth against the Titans last weekend catching just five passes for 56 yards in the game. However, he wasn’t really needed for a Texans victory with the game well in hand by the middle of the second quarter. This week, however, will be a completely different story with the 11-1 Texans (6-0 on the road) traveling to Foxborough to take on a Patriots team with a six-game winning streak and the best point-differential (plus-170, Houston is second with plus-130) in the league. If the Patriots come out firing as usual, then the Texans will have to turn to the pass to stay within reach so look for ‘Dre to see a whole lot of love from Matt Schaub this Monday night. Considering the Patriots have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game and seventh-most passing TDs this season, Johnson should be good for top-10 fantasy numbers here.
Reggie Wayne (vs. Ten) – Reggie Wayne has now dropped to third in the league in receptions (88) behind Wes Welker (92) and Brandon Marshall (91), but he still leads them all in targets with a whopping 152 on the season (12.7 per game). He’s also third in receiving yards with 1,156, but he’s coming off his lowest total of the season going for just 51 yards against the Lions last weekend. However, this Sunday should be a good one for the old-timer with the Titans bringing their sub-par pass defense into town. Tennessee has given up the second-most passing TDs and seventh-most passing yards per game this year, so Reggie should be just fine there. Wayne also tends to play much better at home, so combined with the way Andrew Luck has been tossing the ball out there lately, I expect to see some of Wayne’s better numbers of 2012 this Sunday.
Others with WR1 Potential:
Randall Cobb (vs. Det, Sunday night)
Wes Welker (vs. Hou, Monday night)
Torrey Smith (at Was)
Pierre Garcon (vs. Bal)
Hakeem Nicks (vs. NO)
Marques Colston (at NYG)
Greg Jennings (vs. Det, Sunday night)
Chris Givens (at Buf)
Michael Crabtree (vs. Mia)
Josh Gordon (vs. KC)
Danario Alexander (at Pit)
Kenny Britt (at Ind)
T.Y. Hilton (vs. Ten)
Mike Williams (vs. Phi)
Golden Tate (vs. Ari)
James Jones (vs. Det, Sunday night)
Anquan Boldin (at Was)
Brandon Lloyd (vs. Hou, Monday night)
Owen Daniels (at NE, Monday night) – Despite a season-low 43 yards versus the Titans last weekend, you have to love what Owen Daniels has given his fantasy owners this season. He’s scored a touchdown in six of 11 games, drawn the sixth-most targets of all tight ends and put up the fourth-most fantasy points per game on the season. This week he’ll be running routes against a Patriots defense that has allowed the most receptions, most yards and fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year. Houston will likely have to pass the ball to win this game, so Daniels should have ample opportunity to put up TE1 stats in Week 14.
Brandon Myers (vs. Den, Thursday night) – Myers broke onto the scene in a big way against the Browns last weekend and is becoming one of the leagues better tight ends right before our eyes. It was the first major impact of his career as he grabbed a gargantuan 14 of his 15 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. He was a consistent PPR force throughout the early part of the season, but has recently added a scoring flair to his game putting up four touchdowns in his last five games. Its clear Myers has become Carson Palmer’s favorite target and should continue to be this Thursday against a Broncos team that has allowed the absolute most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Basically, he’s a must-start this week. FINAL STATISTICS: 1 catch - 7 yards - 0 TDs
Kyle Rudolph (vs. Chi) – Rudolph has scored at least one touchdown in seven of the Vikings 12 games this season. He may not go for as many yards as other tight ends, but he sure can find the end zone pretty well. One of the main reasons he’s been able to score in each of the last three games is due to Percy Harvin being out of the lineup. Without a reliable receiver to throw to, Ponder has leaned on Rudolph as much as possible—evidenced by his 18 catches on 26 targets over the last three weeks. Two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears, Rudolph grabbed five of his nine targets for 55 yards and a touchdown. Without Brian Urlacher out there at linebacker this weekend, I can easily see Rudolph out-performing those numbers.
Martellus Bennett (vs. NO) – Martellus Bennett finally jumped back on board the G-Train last week grabbing five of his seven targets for 82 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins. It was his first double-digit scoring game since Week 3, but he’ll have a good chance to do it again this Sunday with the New Orleans Saints decrepit defense coming to town. In fact, the Saints have allowed the most receptions, yards, touchdowns, and obviously fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the past five weeks, so you have to believe the Black Unicorn is primed to get in on the fun.
Greg Olsen (vs. Atl) – Olsen has been a bit up and down this season, but when he’s been on—like he was against Atlanta in their first matchup of the season—he can be a huge asset to your fantasy squad. Back in Week 4, Greg caught six passes against the Falcons and turned them into 89 yards and a score. I have no doubt these numbers could be duplicated on Sunday in Carolina, especially seeing how Atlanta has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to tight ends over the last five weeks (ninth-most on the season). Olsen is definitely worth taking a chance on this weekend.
Others with TE1 Potential:
Dennis Pitta (at Was)
Jacob Tamme (at Oak, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 2 catches - 24 yards - 0 TDs
Heath Miller (vs. SD)
Brandon Pettigrew (at GB, Sunday night)
Jermaine Gresham (vs. Dal)
Jermichael Finley (vs. Det, Sunday night)
Dallas Clark (vs. Phi)
Dwayne Allen (vs. Ten)
Brent Celek (at TB)
Lance Kendricks (at Buf)
Tony Scheffler (at GB, Sunday night)
Philip Rivers (at Pit) – Rivers has been a mess this season, with his only good fantasy scoring games coming against Tennessee, New Orleans and Tampa Bay (all bottom-10 pass defenses). He’s been better on the road than at home this year, but it won’t matter against a Steelers team that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2012.
Tony Romo (at Cin) – The Bengals haven’t allowed a double-digit fantasy performance from a quarterback since Peyton Manning back in Week 9. They’re also pretty stellar at home, which doesn’t bode well for the road-fearing Romo. With DeMarco Murray back and playing well, I expect Dallas to run more anyway, so you might want to re-think Romo as your starting QB.
Carson Palmer (vs. Den, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 19-for-30 - 273 yards - 2 TDs - 1 INT // 1 rush - –1 yard - 0 TDs - 1 FUM
Chad Henne (vs. NYJ) – Without WR Cecil Shorts III in the lineup, I fully expect the old Chad Henne to come out flustered and turnover-prone like he used to be. With his next-best receiver, Justin Blackmon, being shadowed by CB Antonio Cromartie all game, Henne doesn’t stand a chance.
Ryan Mathews (at Pit) – Plain and simple, Ryan Mathews hasn’t been all he was cracked up to be this season. He has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game and has gone over 100 TOTAL yards just twice, with one of them coming against a league-worst New Orleans Saints defense. If you’re expecting him to suddenly break out against top-tier Pittsburgh Steelers D, you might as well go back to lion-taming because your chances of something like that working out are slightly better.
Reggie Bush / Daniel Thomas (at SF) – Being in a timeshare backfield obviously hurts your fantasy stock, which is exactly what Bush and Thomas are in right now as neither one has been given more than 16 touches in a game since Week 6. Just thought I’d give you a reason other than that they’re playing the vaunted 49ers defense to sit these two guys.
Darren McFadden (vs. Den, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 11 rushes - 52 yards - 0 TDs // 2 catches - 12 yards - 1 TD
Beanie Wells (at Sea) – The Seahawks defense has been chewed up on the ground a bit lately, so there’s actually a tiny ray of hope for Mr. Wells this weekend. However, most of the damage has come on the road and other than Adrian Peterson’s outburst in Seattle five weeks ago, they’ve been dominant playing at home. Beanie doesn’t quite have his legs back under him since his return from injury, anyway (70 yards on 32 carries; 2.2 YPC), so there’s no need to go pinning your playoff hopes on a hope and a prayer.
Larry Fitzgerald (at Sea) – This one’s a bit iffy for me with the Cardinals turning back to John Skelton as their quarterback this week. Fitzgerald was awesome in 2011 with Skelton under center and put up fairly decent fantasy numbers in the few games they played together this season. However, Seattle’s defense has shut down the passing game this year allowing the second-fewest passing touchdowns and third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. With his immense talent, Fitz could surprise with a nice game here, but I wouldn’t count on him as more than a flex this week.
Dwayne Bowe (at Cle) – Is Brady Quinn still the Chiefs starting quarterback? Yes? Well then there’s your reason to sit Dwayne Bowe in Week 14. If you need a little extra incentive to plop him on your bench this Sunday, consider that Bowe hasn’t had more than 79 yards in a game or caught a single touchdown pass since Week 4. Oh, and shutdown cornerback Joe Haden will be shadowing all game as well.
Denarius Moore (vs. Den, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 4 catches - 43 yards - 0 TDs
Justin Blackmon (vs. NYJ) – With Cecil Shorts already declared out for the game, Blackmon will be out there on an island this weekend as the Jags’ only wide receiver with even a speck over mediocre-type talent. What that means is that the Jets will let one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Antonio Cromartie, shadow Blackmon all day long in order to eliminate him from the game. In fact, I’d almost start the 6’3”, undrafted Kevin Elliott (Cecil Shorts’ replacement) over Blackmon in this one.
Stevie Johnson (vs. StL) – Stevie J has played pretty well this season and scored a decent amount of fantasy points of late, but with a good chance of rain on Sunday and an already bummed out hamstring, I have a hard time believing he’ll put up any better than flex numbers this week. In case you didn’t know, Johnson isn’t much of a big-yardage guy, anyway, as he’s only had two 100-yard games in his last 34 contests. My guess is that CB Cortland Finnegan will be in his pocket all game long as well, so like I said—don’t expect much.
Brian Hartline (at SF) – Here is how a normal passing play goes against the San Francisco 49ers: Hike! 1.5 seconds later, the 49ers front seven are in the quarterback’s face and he’s either forced to throw the ball away; dump it off to a running back/tight end; toss it to a short-routed slot receiver; or take a sack. Basically, unless you’re either the slot receiver or named Calvin Johnson, you have no part in this game. Brian Hartline is neither, so you do the math.
Antonio Gates (at Pit) – Is this really all you can give us Mr. Gates? Three games with double-digit fantasy points this season and a whopping EIGHT with fewer than six?! Simply unacceptable. So far, in the three games against the other AFC North teams this year (Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland), Gates has put up a COMBINED 10 catches for 76 yards and zero touchdowns. Pittsburgh is the toughest of all three against opposing tight ends, so don’t expect too much from the future Hall-of-Famer in this one.
Jared Cook (at Ind) – Though he’s been targeted more often of late, this matchup with the Colts on Sunday doesn’t look like a winner for Mr. Jared Cook. He had three catches for 45 yards the first time these two teams hooked up back in Week 8, but Indianapolis has allowed the second-fewest receptions and sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, so you can’t expect much more than that. Either way, you really can’t take a chance on a guy who has just one game with double-digit fantasy points on the year at this point.
Scott Chandler (vs. StL) – Standing 6’7” with some pretty good hands, Scott Chandler is a threat to snag a touchdown any time the Bills get down into the red-zone. However, it’s really the only thing Chandler brings to the table as he’s caught two or fewer passes in seven of 12 games this season. If he was facing a different team, I’d say to go ahead and take your chances, but the Rams are one of only six teams to have allowed three or fewer touchdowns to tight ends this year.
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