Our fantasy writers look to give you their opinions on who to start and sit as owners scramble to set their lineups for the playoffs. Below are their picks for week 14. Best of luck to all the Fantasy owners out there as the season winds down!
STARTERS THIS WEEK
Quarterback: Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Winston returned to the football field close to full health last week against the Packers and got back to his old ways. Winston threw for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns to his favorite target Cameron Brate in an overtime loss at Lambeau. Still, his performance last week makes him the second leading QB picked up in ESPN leagues (14.7%) behind only Aaron Rodgers. Heading into week 14, Winston draws a home matchup against the 27th ranked passing defense in Detroit. Even though the Bucs haven’t met early season expectations, Jameis has averaged 33.5 pass attempts per contest in games that he finished, warranting a must-start this week if your looking for answers at the QB position.
Runningback: Rex Burkhead (New England Patriots) – Even though it has been a committee, the Patriots backfield has been one of the more consistent backfields this season in fantasy. After a somewhat slow start to the season as well as injury issues, Burkhead has really come on as of late becoming one of the best fantasy options on a high-powered offense. Burkhead has double-digit carries in 3 of the last 4 games and has been used often as the goal line back and Burkhead has also been productive in the passing game. The Patriots take on the Dolphins this week who are in the bottom-half as far as giving up points to fantasy running backs. The Patriots played the Dolphins just two weeks ago in a game where Burkhead totaled 13 carries for 50 yards as well as two total touchdowns.
Wide Receiver: Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) – Josh Gordon proved quickly to us that he is still a freak athlete. Last week he burst onto the scene with 4 catches for 85 yards against a stingy Chargers defense. Still, many questions like “How much of that performance was adrenaline? Is he really in football shape? Can he stay healthy and have a clear mind?” circle around Gordon. But one thing you can’t deny as a fantasy owner is the number of targets a certain player gets, and Gordon saw 11 from rookie QB DeShone Kizer last week. Even though Kizer is as bad as it gets at the QB position this year, there are no reliable options for Cleveland who has to throw in pretty much every second half to try and win a game. Maybe Gordon becomes his safety blanket.
Tight End: Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – The Winston-to-Brate combination is back in full swing. Brate scored a pair of touchdowns and is now projected as a top 10 PPR tight end in ESPN fantasy leagues for week 14. Simply put, when Winston is healthy, he relies on his tight ends. In what has been a down year at the position, fantasy owners are trying to find a guy with a high ceiling, and Brate is that guy when Jameis is available as he averages 6 targets per game. This duo has also combined for 5 of Winston’s 12 TDs on the season. Pair it with the fact that Detroit is the 9th worst against TE’s this season, Brate is a solid option this week.
Defense/Special Teams: Cincinnati Bengals – While they have been a very inconsistent unit all year and fall in the middle of the pack for fantasy D/ST units this year, I think the Bengals are a really good streaming option this week against the Bears. Against bad opponents, the Bengals have done a really good job of keeping those teams out of the end zone. Against the elite Pittsburgh offense, the Bengals did an outstanding job of stopping the Steelers in the first half. Although they did not finish it in the second half, they showed glimpses of what they can do. Having a home game against Chicago factors a lot into this, as the Bears have been one of the consistently bad offenses all season. While they are without a few starters as a result of last week’s game, if they can put together a few turnovers the Bengals defense will put up a solid day.
SITS THIS WEEK
Quarterback: Case Keenum (Minnesota Vikings) – Keenum has led the Vikings on a Cinderella story-type season this year and has faired quite well in fantasy. In fact, he has worked his way into the top 15 for Quarterbacks (total points) in standard ESPN scoring. Many fantasy players have added Keenum to their roster as a viable back-up (or in some cases starting) option. However, this week the Vikings draw a matchup with a Carolina Panthers defense who is 10th against fantasy QBs (according to pro-football-reference). Carolina is also a top 5 team in sacks which could cause some aired throws for opposing QBs. With a third straight road game for the Vikings, think about a different option if you’ve been relying on Keenum lately.
Runningback: Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers) – After being a high draft pick and having a strong start to the season, Carlos Hyde has sort of fallen off the fantasy radar. Hyde had only topped 70 yards once in the last nine weeks, and he has only found the end zone 2 weeks this entire season. While the volume makes it somewhat hard to sit him, the ineffectiveness is too evident to not consider it. The 49ers also travel to Houston this week to face a defense that has been stout against the run all year long. Although the Quarterback change gave a bit of hope for Hyde, the fact is that there are not many other weapons on the San Francisco offense and Hyde has been constantly struggling. Unless he can get in the end zone, do not expect much from Hyde this week.
Wide Receiver: Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers) – As the top option for the Panthers offense since the trade of Kelvin Benjamin, Funchess has been an extremely productive fantasy option. Despite this production, this is one of the few weeks where Funchess should be kept on the bench. The biggest reason for this is due to the matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. As one of the best defenses in the league, the Vikings absolutely shut down Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu just last week. Minnesota’s main focus will likely be Funchess this week and I don’t see him producing huge numbers. Greg Olsen is also coming back after sitting out a week and is likely to receive a good number of red zone looks.
Tight End: Dwayne Allen (New England Patriots) – While the suspension of Rob Gronkowski makes for a very intriguing option at the tight end position, Dwayne Allen should not be considered as a starting option this week. Although New England tight ends are known for having high levels of volume and production in the Brady era, this has not been the case this season. Gronk sat out earlier in the season against the Buccaneers in a game which Allen played 50 offensive snaps. Despite this, Allen did not receive a single target and was a total non-factor. This has been a theme for Allen all season as he does not have a game with more than two receptions Although the matchup against the Dolphins looks favorable, Allen and Brady do not seem to have much of a chemistry and he likely won’t be a big part of the game-plan.
Defense/Special Teams: Eagles and Rams – Both Los Angeles and Philadelphia are ranked in the top 5 this season as fantasy defenses, but this week they should ride the pine. Not only are the top scoring offenses going against each other in this highly anticipated matchup or the top two picks from the 2016 draft (Goff and Wentz), but neither team gives the ball up much. Both LA and Philly rank 8th best in the NFL with 15 turnovers on the season, yet the Rams specifically have only coughed up the football three times in their last five games. You should fully expect the two young QBs to make smart decisions as they have combined for 49-12 TD/Int ratio through 12 games. Try to find an option you believe will be in a lower scoring game instead – like Packers/Browns, Bears/Bengals, etc.