Fantasy Football: Week 14 Starts/Sits, Injury Report
Teddy Bridgewater (vs. DEN): Truth be told, I wanted to get off the grid with some of these starts. Sure, I could have listed names like Justin Herbert, or Russell Wilson in this section of the article, and called it a day, but would that have really helped anyone? Personally, those guys are every week starts, so I don’t think naming them in this article is a good idea at this point. Let’s dig deeper than that. An under the radar quarterback this week is Teddy Bridgewater. He faces a Broncos team that typically is very good defending the pass, though there’s more to it than that this week. There are so many changes to the Broncos’ defensive backs this week (more on that later in this article), Denver is in a rough spot defensively here. Carolina might be forced to throw the ball with Christian McCaffrey remaining out in this one. If I were Carolina, I’d try and attack Denver where they are weak.
Andy Dalton (@ CIN): From a fantasy football perspective, this game is going to be an exciting one. Andy Dalton heads back to Cincinnati and will play on the other team’s sideline for the first time in his career in a revenge game. Dalton faces the 28th ranked Pass DVOA Defense, the 29th overall DVOA Defense, a Bengals team that allows 260 passing yards per game and serves up 19 fantasy points to quarterbacks. If you’re in a tough spot with your quarterback this week, Dalton is a fine pivot. Personally, I think the Cowboys are long out of playoff contention for this season, but it’s a must win game if they still want to stay alive, so Dalton should be slinging it in this one.
Derek Carr (vs. IND): Carr has been playing solid football over the course of the season, though the production has not been consistent every week. In Week 14, he faces a tough Colts passing defense that allows just 232 passing yards per game, rank in the top five in terms of pass DVOA, and sixth in total DVOA. After a solid week last week, Carr gets a much tougher matchup against a team with a pulse in the Colts. I’d advise staying away if possible.
Jalen Hurts (vs NO): Heading into this week, I thought Hurts was going to be an intriguing play this week. However, the more I looked into it, the more I want to stay away. First, it’s a rookie quarterback making his first career start on an offense that’s struggling badly. We don’t really know what to expect. The next reason is this Saints defense is a tough matchup for any quarterback. On top of that, Philly gives up tons of sacks (4.4 per game, most in the NFL). I know Hurts is a bit more mobile than Wentz, and has the ability to avoid the pressure, but I would rather look elsewhere if possible, this week.
Giovani Bernard (vs. DAL): Joe Mixon remains out for the Bengals, and Gio Bernard faces the Cowboys in what is an outstanding matchup for any RB at this point. Dallas is among the worst rushing defenses in the league, and multiple stats back that up. First, they rank 32nd in rush DVOA, allow the second most rushing yards per game, and allow 23.7 fantasy points to RBs on the year. Bernard isn’t a great player, but as an RB2 (top 24 fantasy football running back), he’s a fine play. Plus, if somehow the Cowboys manage to play with a lead in this one, Gio Bernard is the primary pass catching back for the Bengals, so he’s essentially game-flow proof this week. The one big downside for Gio is this Bengals offensive line. Cincinnati allows the least amount of adjusted line yards. There have been so many injuries to this Bengals line, and they weren’t expected to be good to begin with. I think volume will be able to out-weigh the offensive line problems, though.
Jonathan Taylor (vs. LVR): Jonathan Taylor has been one of the most polarizing players in fantasy this season. A highly touted second round rookie RB out of Wisconsin, Taylor was expected to be one of the next big things in fantasy football, but the public perception is that the transition to the NFL just hasn’t gone as smoothly for him yet. However, to quote the theme from Wizards of Waverly Place, “everything is not what it seems.” Taylor is actually the RB16 this season and is a really good number two back for fantasy. Over the last few weeks, he’s really come along. Since Week 9, he’s scored 9.40, 5.70, 15.40, had a week off because he was a close contact to someone with COVID-19, and 22.50 fantasy points. The last two weeks specifically, he’s starting to find a groove. This week, he faces the Raiders who are a good matchup for opposing RBs. Vegas allows 100.8 rushing yards per game (11th most) 25.3 fantasy points per game (4th most) and are the second worst DVOA against the run. The Colts need a win this week to stay in the playoff hunt, and feeding Taylor gives them the best chance to get that win.
All Miami Dolphins RBs (vs. KC): Normally, when we have tons of injuries to a particular position on an NFL team, it’s a next man up mentality for fantasy purposes. However, I’m advising staying away from all Dolphins RBs this week. There are two reasons. One, I’m expecting KC to dominate this from start to finish, so the game flow is going to be an issue. The second reason is none of these Dolphins RBs (Washington, Laird, McGuire) are worthy of even being backup caliber RB’s in a healthy RB room. They’re third string or lower on the depth chart for a reason. Stay away here.
Devin Singletary (vs. PIT): Singletary has been a fine spot start for fantasy at various points over the course of the season, but this week I’m advising to fade him. Pittsburgh allows the second fewest fantasy points per game to RBs. This equates to just 76.8 rushing yards per game, which is not a high number. Add in the fact that Singletary splits time with Zack Moss, who I also recommend benching this week, it’s an easy call to bench Singletary if you can.
Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel (vs. DEN): Christian McCaffrey remains out. D.J. Moore is also out. The top two playmakers for the Panthers this week are expected to be Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel. Both are great plays this week in season-long leagues. The preferred matchup is Robby Anderson, as he is expected to be the top wideout for the Panthers’ this week. Through Week 13, Anderson is the WR17 overall. Denver has so many moving parts to their secondary this week, A.J. Bouye is suspended, and they already had their number two CB injured, which leaves them with literally Michael Ojemudia, Duke Dawson, Kevin Toliver and De’Vante Bausby as their only DBs. If you said “WHO?” after reading these names, so did I. Point is, the Panthers starting receivers should have a field day if Bridgewater can get them the football.
Mike Williams (vs. ATL): The curious case of Mike Williams. Do we start him, or sit him? Will he go off on our benches? It’s really a game of roulette with Williams, you never know what you’re going to get. Let’s just read his production over the last six weeks, to drive the point home: Week 8, 21.00 fantasy points in PPR (99 yards and a TD), Week 9, 13.10 fantasy points, Week 10, 5.80 fantasy points, Week 11, 17.20, Week 12, 5.60, Week 13, 8.30. It’s so inconsistent. However, he gets a phenomenal Week 14 matchup vs the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta allows the fourth most fantasy points to receivers on the year. The Falcons are giving up 207.8 total yards to receivers (2nd most) and 14.8 receptions to wide outs on the year (6th most). Williams is a solid number three wide receiver this week.
Russell Gage (@ LAC): When Julio Jones is out, Russell Gage is the next man up to see a bump in the Falcons’ target share. This week, I’d look elsewhere. Truth be told, Matt Ryan has not been performing at his peak this season. Add in the fact that the Chargers’ defense allows the fourth fewest receiving yards to WRs per game, I can safely advise you to look in another direction this week.
Christian Kirk (@ NYG): The New York Football Giants surprisingly find themselves atop the NFC (L)east this season. A lot of that is thanks in part to their defense. Did you know, per Ryan McDowell on Twitter, that the Giants have not allowed a top 24 WR since week nine. That being said, Kirk is not even the Cardinals number one WR. Larry Fitzgerald is also expected to be back in this one, and that dampers things further for all Cardinals outside of DeAndre Hopkins. I’m not worried about Hopkins as much, because he’s a freak, and is both QB and matchup proof in my opinion, but I am worried about Kirk and the rest of the Cardinals receivers.
Jordan Reed (vs. WAS): It’s the week of revenge games in this article. Reed faces his old team here in Week 14. Washington is just a middle of the road defense against tight ends, as none of the stats stand out. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Reed finishes as a top 12 tight end this week. The biggest convincing factor for me is the production Reed has been seeing. Since Week 10, he’s scored 11.20, had a bye in Week 11, one rough week with 3.80 and then 12.20 fantasy points last week. With the state of the tight end position, any tight end seeing any sort of consistent production is worth looking at. When you add in the revenge factor, it’s easy to see why Reed is a good start in Week 14.
Dalton Schultz (@ CIN): This one is simply following the matchups. I don’t think Schultz is a great player, but he’s got one of the best matchups a tight end can have on the board. Cincinnati allows 68.5 receiving yards (Most in the NFL) 5.58 receptions (4th most) and 10.5 fantasy points to tight ends per game (3rd most). Schultz doesn’t have a ton of upside, but if he gets targeted, he won’t hurt your team.
Evan Engram (vs. ARI): Did you know that Evan Engram is not a top 12 fantasy tight end heading into Week 14? After doing some research, Engram is actually the TE13. So, he’s close to an every-week starter, but not quite there. This week, he faces a Cardinals team that we were picking on earlier in the year but have since backed away from. Arizona surprisingly allows just 5.9 fantasy points per game to tight ends, which is tied for the sixth-fewest. The Cardinals allow 43.2 receiving yards to tight ends, and 4.67 receptions per game. If you have a comparable option on your waiver wire or bench, it would be advisable to start them instead of Engram.
Logan Thomas (vs. SF): As I was looking to see where Engram ranked among tight ends to this point in the season, one thing that really stood out to me was Logan Thomas’ ranking. He’s the TE8 on the season. I didn’t even realize he was doing that well. However, proceed with caution this week. The 49ers are a tough matchup for tight ends, allowing just 4.7 fantasy points per game to the position. If you play Thomas, you’re hoping he falls in the end zone or something, that’s really it.
Kansas City Chiefs (@ MIA): This is a game-theory play for you. Let me spin it to you like this: The Dolphins will be without their top three running backs. The Dolphins running backs, who are replacing them, are truly not among the top 75 RBs in the league. That being said, this will lead the Dolphins’ to being one dimensional with Tua at the helm. I don’t think this Dolphins’ team is going to put up tons of points. There’s just too much going against them this week.
Carolina Panthers (vs DEN): If you’re looking for a defense that might actually be on your waiver wire, you can turn to Carolina this week. They face a mediocre Broncos team in Week 14. Denver scores the second fewest points per game, earns just 325 total yards per game, and Denver is allowing their QBs are getting sacked 2.0 times per game on the season. Carolina should be able to help you if you’re in a pinch at Defense this week.
Miami Dolphins (vs. KC): Somehow, to this point in the season, the Dolphins defense have scored the third most fantasy points among all defenses. Crazy, right? Well, let’s pump the brakes this week. They have a home matchup vs the Chiefs. This is going to be a real test to see if Miami is a playoff caliber team or not. I’d proceed with caution here.
New York Giants (vs. ARI): The Giants are sitting at 5-7 on the season, and a large part of that is thanks to their defense, which is the eighth best fantasy defense on the year. However, they have a tough matchup this week. Arizona ranks top five in total yards per game, top 10 in total points per game, and rarely allow Kyler Murray to get sacked. I’d look elsewhere if you can.
Jake Elliott (vs. NO): You may be wondering, if I have Jalen Hurts as a sit, why would I recommend playing the Eagles’ kicker Jake Elliott? Well, Elliott may not be a good kicker, however I would not be surprised to see some Eagles’ drives end in field goals instead of touchdowns. If by some chance the Eagles do put up points with Hurts (unlikely in my opinion) then you’ll also get points for Elliott. I’m expecting drives to stall out and the Eagles to settle for Field Goals, in Hurts’ first start against a tough Saints defense, though.
Matt Prater (vs. GB): The Detroit Lions will be forced to matchup against Aaron Rodgers’ and the Packers this week. That means, lots of points are expected in this one. In Week 2, the Lions’ first game vs Green Bay, Prater only scored 3.00 fantasy points. However, I’m expecting more than that here in Week 14, between 7.00 and 10.00 fantasy points, which for a kicker would be fine.
Tyler Bass (vs. PIT): Benching a top five kicker, eh? That’s what we are considering with this play. Did you know that Bass has the fourth most fantasy points in fantasy this season? This week, he goes up against a Pittsburgh team that allows just 1.4 field goal attempts per game (fourth fewest). On top of that, winds are expected to be above 10 mph in this contest on Sunday night. I would hold on to Bass, because next week he’s got a great matchup, but if you have a decent alternative on your waiver wire and someone else you can afford to cut, perhaps look into doing that. Otherwise, just don’t expect Bass to have his normal production this week.
Robbie Gould (vs. WAS): You probably were not starting Gould most weeks anyway, but we have extra incentives to stay away in Week 14: The weather conditions are not expected to be great for kickers this week. 67% chance precipitation, and winds above 10 mph. For a kicker, we are avoiding bad weather games. Let’s not use Gould if we can avoid it.
Daniel Jones (Hamstring): Cleared to return.
Kenyan Drake (Hip): Questionable.
Antonio Gibson (Toe): Ruled out.
Frank Gore (Concussion): Expected to play, if cleared.
Josh Jacobs (Ankle): Expected to play.
Alexander Mattison (Abdomen): Not expected to play.
Christian McCaffrey (Shoulder): Not expected to play.
D’Andre Swift (Illness): Expected to return.
Brandin Cooks (Neck): Expected to play.
Jamison Crowder (Calf): Not expected to play.
Kenny Golladay (Hip): Not expected to play.
DeAndre Hopkins (Neck): Expected to play.
Julio Jones (Hamstring): Ruled out.
Denzel Mims (Personal): Ruled out.
Austin Hooper (Neck): Note expected to play.
Kyle Rudolph (Foot): Not expected to play.
Irv Smith Jr (Back): Questionable.
Jace Sternberger (Concussion): Ruled out.
Ian Thomas (Knee): Expected to play.
(Cover Photo: Michael Conroy/AP)