Week 14 NFL Matchup Preview Part Two
Be sure to check out Part One of our Week 14 NFL Matchup Previews
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2016
1:00 PM EST
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
QB Kirk Cousins: The Eagles defense started off strong, but has given up big games to recent opponents. Kirk Cousins is playing well and has multiple TDs in 7 straight games (2 rushing TDs). Cousins should be considered a QB1 again this week in a game where the losing team’s playoff hopes are all but over.
RB Rob Kelley: The Redskins claim they want to get Kelley more involved, but he’s not a special talent deserving of more touches. If the Redskins take a big league, he will have a nice high-volume RB2 game, but if this is a close game, I would expect more of what we’ve seen recently: 15 touches and 50-60 yds. In the opening round of the fantasy playoffs, he’s not a player you should be excited to start.
WR DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garçon: Kirk Cousins has been spreading the ball around pretty well, limiting the projected upside of each player. There is a good chance that Jamison Crowder or DeSean Jackson could have a big game, but neither should be trusted beyond WR2 status. Pierre Garçon has also had some solid games but is more of a flex play in PPR leagues.
TE Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis: Reports are indicating that Jordan Reed should play, which invokes Rule 86: start Jordan Reed when he plays. It’s a very tough matchup, so the high floor is not there, but the upside for a TD is, making Reed a low-end TE1. If Reed plays, Vernon Davis is not startable. If Reed misses the game, Davis is still a low-end TE2 due to the tough matchup.
QB Carson Wentz: While the Redskins are a decent matchup due to opposing QBs having to play keep-up with their offense, Carson Wentz hasn’t been playing well enough to consider him for fantasy purposes in round 1 of the playoffs.
RB Ryan Mathews, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles: If the Eagles would give anyone big volume, this would be a great matchup, but unfortunately they are mixing it all up. Ryan Mathews should return and has TD potential, but a sub 5 point floor makes him unstartable. The return of Mathews also caps any upside of Wendell Smallwood, who hasn’t done anything with the opportunity anyway. Darren Sproles is the only Eagles RB worth starting consideration. He has RB2 upside and a flex floor in PPR leagues in a game where the Eagles may find themselves playing catch-up.
WR Jordan Matthews: The news indicates that Jordan Matthews should be returning from his injury, but the limited upside of this passing game keeps him in the low WR2/flex rankings. No one else should be trusted to be started at this time.
TE Zach Ertz: Zach Ertz has been a favorite target for the rookie QB, and a matchup with a Redskins defense allowing the 8th most points to opposing TEs this season makes him a very good TE1 starter.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
QB Trevor Siemian: After missing last week, Trevor Siemian is on track to start again. While that’s good news for the Broncos, he shouldn’t be considered for your fantasy teams.
RB Devontae Booker, Justin Forsett: The signing of Justin Forsett should scare most owners of Devontae Booker away from starting him. Neither player has the upside to be considered for starting purposes.
WR Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders: Both Denver WRs are limited by their QB’s play. The return of Siemian is a slight bump, but neither Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders are more than middling WR2’s with a safe 5-6 reception, 50-60yd floor.
QB Marcus Mariota: The sophomore QB was on an absolute tear from Week 5 until his Week 13 bye. During that run, Marcus Mariota really only faced one “tough” matchup and 4 games against league bottom defenses. Coming off a bye, Mariota should be well prepared for this game, but the Denver secondary is no joke. Mariota maintains low-end QB1 upside for his rushing points, but there is plenty of reasons to consider benching him for a higher upside play in must-win playoff games.
RB DeMarco Murray: You beat the Broncos on the ground, not in the air. DeMarco Murray should be fed a healthy workload, making him an RB1 for the week.
WR Rishard Matthews: Rishard Matthews has been a revelation for the Titans and fantasy owners, but the matchup with arguably the league’s best secondary limits his upside to WR2 status.
TE Delanie Walker: The Broncos are stingy against the pass, but not as scary for opposing TEs. Delanie Walker is a key part of the Titans passing game and should be played as a TE1.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2016
4:05 PM EST
New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers
QB Bryce Petty: Don’t try to be cute in the playoffs. He’s not even a streaming option in anything but the deepest 2QB leagues.
RB Matt Forte, Bilal Powell: The Jets lost Nick Mangold for the season and are in full-on dumpster fire mode. That said, the 49er’s matchup makes both Jets RBs worthy of starting consideration. Matt Forte should be a high-end RB2, while Bilal Powell has some flex appeal, particularly in PPR leagues.
WR Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa: The Jets are grounded. Brandon Marshall hasn’t exceeded 70 receiving yards or 6 receptions since Week 5 and shouldn’t be trusted as more than a low-upside WR2. Quincy Enunwa has recorded just 1 reception in 3 of his last 4 games and can’t be trusted at this time.
QB Colin Kaepernick: After last weeks 1-for-5 for 4-yard “performance”, Colin Kaepernick actually has QB1 upside against the abysmal Jets secondary. The rushing stats may be capped by a tough Jets run defense. You will need a to have major confidence in the rest of your starting lineup to trust Kaepernick in the playoffs, but the upside is there if you need it.
RB Carlos Hyde: The Jets are allowing under 100 yards per game and have given up just 7 rushing TDs this season. Where there is volume, there is RB2 potential, but the ceiling is capped at RB2 status.
TE Vance McDonald: The Jets are allowing the 12th most points to opposing TEs this year and Vance McDonald has been the only “reliable” fantasy option in the 49ers passing game. he’s a low-end TE1/streamer.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2016
4:25 PM EST
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Drew Brees: The Saints currently sit 2 games behind the Buccaneers and Falcons in the NFC South, but play Tampa Bay twice and Atlanta once in the next 4 weeks. They are in must-win mode and can control their playoff destiny with wins over those divisional rivals. That all points to putting the game on Drew Brees shoulders, which should lead to fantasy points. He’s a high-end QB1.
RB Mark Ingram, Tim Hightower: The Saints may be leaning back towards Mark Ingram in the timeshare, but it’s still a split. Ingram has RB2 upside in what should be a high-scoring game, while Tim Hightower’s reduced workload in Week 13 limits him to flex status if you are desperate.
WR Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Willie Snead: The Buccaneers secondary has been playing a little better recently, but the way Drew Brees spread the ball around, someone will have a great game. Who it is will be anyone’s guess. Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas are both solid WR2s, while Willie Snead has taken a backseat and is more of a flex option.
TE Coby Fleener: The Buccaneers are mid-pack against opposing TEs, but they’ve given up some points to teams who focus on a TE. Unfortunately, the Saints haven’t focused on the TE as much this year, leaving Coby Fleener as a desperation TE option.
QB Jameis Winston: Welcome to Jameis Winston’s World, where fantasy points should be racked up in spades over the next few weeks. He should be a QB1 through the fantasy playoffs.
RB Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims: Doug Martin is banged up again. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green. While he should play, he very well may be splitting time with Jacquizz Rodgers. The news is also projecting Charles Sims to make his return from the short-term IR, muddying the waters even more. Top it off with a surprisingly decent Saints run defense, and you have a recipe for fantasy chaos. Avoid this situation if at all possible.
WR Mike Evans: When Jameis Winston makes the scoreboard spin, Mike Evans will be the beneficiary. He has #1 WR upside and could be the #1 WR over the rest of the season.
TE Cameron Brate: The rest of the Buccaneers receiving corp has been banged up and Cameron Brate has become a red zone favorite for Jameis Winston. Brate should be considered a TE1 in this game and moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
QB Russell Wilson: The Packers are allowing the 10th most points to opposing QBs and Russell Wilson should be a solid QB1.
RB Thomas Rawls: The Packers run defense has been tough this season, but the Seahawks will be forced to feed the ball to Thomas Rawls with limited depth behind him. A big game in a primetime game got all the Rawls fans in a tizzy, but 45 of his 106 rushing yards came on a 45-yard TD run. You’re going to start him, but don’t be surprised by a poor fantasy performance against a Packers run defense allowing less than 100 yards per game and who has allowed just 9 rushing TDs this year. His lack of involvement in the passing game also limits the upside.
WR Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett: Doug Baldwin continues to be a ho-hum WR2 in PPR leagues and should be a safe start. Tyler Lockett recorded 5 receptions last week, a season high for him. He also scored a 75-yard rushing TD. He’s getting more involved in the passing game with 6 targets in 3 of his last 4 games. He’s a boom/bust flex option.
TE Jimmy Graham: The Packers are allowing the 7th most points to opposing TEs this year. Jimmy Graham is a solid TE1 starter this week.
QB Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers has been on a fantasy tear, and is a must-start QB1, even in the tough matchup. The Packers are 2 games out of the division lead and must-win to stay in the playoff hunt.
RB James Starks, Christine Michael: Sad fact: Only players named Aaron have scored rushing TDs for the Packers this season and none of them are RBs. (QB Aaron Rodgers 3, FB Aaron Ripkowski 2). James Starks had a pathetic 4 carries for 1 yard last week and cannot be trusted. Christine Michael saw 9 carries last week and has 6 rushing TDs this season, all for his former team and this week’s opponent, the Seahawks. Could there be a redemption narrative in play here? Perhaps. Should you trust your fantasy playoffs on that? No way.
WR Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb: The matchup is tough, but you’re starting Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. Both are at the top of the NFL ranks in receiving TDs; Nelson is tied for 2nd (10) and Adams tied for 3rd (8). Unfortunately, Randall Cobb has fallen out of fantasy relevance, with a decent flex-worthy floor, but lacking the volume to be anything more than a WR2 when he scores a TD.
TE Jared Cook, Richard Rodgers: The duo of Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers have been extremely inconsistent and neither is worthy of starting in a matchup with a Seahawks defense allowing the 9th least points to opposing TEs.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams
QB Matt Ryan: After starting the season on fire with multiple games with 3+ passing TDs, Matt Ryan has cooled off recently with just 4 total passing TDs in his last 3 games. A matchup with a Rams secondary that just held Tom Brady to 1 TD is not a welcome sight to fantasy owners who rode Ryan into the playoffs. The good news is that Ryan has a solid floor based on his yardage. He is a low-end QB1 with limited upside.
RB Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman: Devonta Freeman has been the leader in touches since the Week 11 bye and return of Tevin Coleman, but the split inched closer to 50/50 last week. Freeman has been buoyed by 2 rushing TDs in both Weeks 12 and 13 and besting Coleman in the passing game with 6 receptions to Coleman’s 2. The signs are there for a let-down game from Freeman if he doesn’t score, which is a possibility against a Rams defense that has allowed just 9 rushing TDs this year. Freeman is more of a high-end RB2 while Coleman is barely a flex option.
WR Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel: Crazy story: An owner in one of my leagues dropped Julio Jones last week in protest of a league rule he didn’t like. His “reason” was that he believed Julio would get injured in the game. (Does he have a crystal ball?). While it looks like Julio will play this week, he has been ruled as a game-time decision, and is dealing with a turf-toe injury that can be a major hindrance to WRs. He missed practice again Thursday which sets us up for the dreaded “decoy” role if he is active Sunday. The Falcons are tied for the division lead but must win to stay there. If Julio doesn’t play or is limited, Taylor Gabriel should be the biggest beneficiary and has WR2 upside.
TE Austin Hooper: Austin Hooper hasn’t been involved in the passing game, but if Julio is out or limited, Hooper may have TD upside over the diminutive Taylor Gabriel. (Hooper is 6’3″, Gabriel is 5’8″)
QB Jared Goff: Much like Week 12 when he squared off with another NFC South team with a terrible secondary, Jared Goff very well could be a sneaky streamer this week. The Falcons are allowing the 2nd most points to opposing QBs and he may need to play keep up with Matt Ryan. Good luck!
RB Todd Gurley: The Falcons defense is also allowing the 2nd most points to opposing RBs, setting Gurley up to finally have a big game. He’s a solid RB2 with RB1 upside. (That might be the first time I wrote that all season!)
WR Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin: Kenny Britt continues to be a solid WR2 for his owners and can safely be slotted in there again this week. Tavon Austin should be returning after missing last week, and could be a sneaky flex play based on the matchup.
TE Lance Kendricks: The Falcons defense has been a favorite target for TE streamers this year. Lance Kendricks has been getting decent volume thus far but his lack of TDs has kept him out of starting lineups. This week, he has a solid chance to be fantasy relevant and could be a decent streamer.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2016
8:30 PM EST
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
QB Dak Prescott: After a 5 game streak of at least 247 passing yards and 2 TDs between Weeks 6-11, Dak Prescott has been held under 200 passing yards and just 1 passing TD in each of his past two games. He did score a rushing TD in Week 12 to help his fantasy day. With the Cowboys holding a comfortable 3-game lead over the Giants in the NFC East and the same 3-game lead over both Detroit and Seattle for the #1 seed, it’s possible the Cowboys have an extremely conservative game plan. The Giants can be beaten through the air and the possibility is there for a rushing TD, which keeps him in the low-end QB1 ranks.
RB Ezekiel Elliott: The Giants are holding opponents under 100 yards rushing per game and have allowed just 9 rushing TDs. The loss of Jason Pierre-Paul gives a boost to the Cowboys as a whole. Ezekiel Elliott has been a stud thus far and should see plenty of volume to have another RB1 day.
WR Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley: Dez Bryant can be projected to score a TD almost every week and this one is no different. He’s a WR1. Last week the Vikings held Cole Beasley to just his second game with less than 4 receptions and his first since Week 8. The matchup with the Giants should keep Beasley in the low-end WR2 ranks in PPR leagues.
TE Jason Witten: The volume isn’t really there and the lack of red zone opportunities keeps Jason Witten out of the starting ranks.
QB Eli Manning: Early in the year, Eli Manning was posting big yardage but the TDs were missing. He has now gone 6 games without breaking 260 passing yards and hasn’t broken 200 yards in his past two. However, he has 14 TDs in his last 5 games since the Week 8 bye. The Cowboys are mid-pack in points allowed to opposing QBs, making Manning a solid floor, low ceiling QB for Week 14.
RB Rashad Jennings, Paul Perkins: It’s a messy split, limiting the upside of both players. Rashad Jennings has just 2 rushing TDs and Paul Perkins has zero. Neither should be trusted in your starting lineup.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard: Odell Beckham is a must-start stud. Sterling Shepard has been a beneficiary of Eli’s TD run, hauling in a TD in 4 of his last 5 games. Unfortunately, the volume is pretty low, limiting him to TD-dependent flex status.
TE Will Tye: The Giants have not been focusing on the TE recently, but a matchup with a Cowboys defense allowing the 6th most points to opposing TEs makes Tye a deep streamer.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2016
8:30 PM EST
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
QB Joe Flacco: The Ravens are quietly tied for the AFC North division lead, but find themselves mired in a group of 7 teams with 6 or 7 wins and could quickly fall out of the playoff race with a couple of losses. The Patriots defense has allowed just 17 passing TDs this year. Flacco is not a starting option outside deep leagues.
RB Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon: The Ravens’ backfield has become a true split, leaving both Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon with limited upside. Terrance West has gotten the TDs giving him low-end RB2 status while Dixon’s 8 reception over the past two weeks gives him a bit of flex appeal in deeper PPR leagues or for desperate owners.
WR Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace: With just 3 TDs and only 1 game over 100 receiving yards combined between Steve Smith and Mike Wallace since their Week 8 bye, neither should be trusted as more than a flex play against the Patriots who are giving up the 7th least fantasy points to opposing WRs.
TE Dennis Pitta: Dennis Pitta erupted for 9/90/2 last week, but wasn’t very involved in the passing game prior to that. The Patriots are decent against opposing TEs, leaving Pitta as a low-floor TE option.
QB Tom Brady: The Ravens has been tough on opposing QBs, allowing the 7th least points to them. Many owners who held onto Brady through his 4-game suspension were rewarded with consistent QB1 numbers all season. But 2 of his last 4 games haven’t been so great and he has a tough matchup this week and next. While they have a comfortable 3-game lead in the AFC East, they are suddenly tied with the Chiefs and Raiders with 10 wins (after the Thursday game). It’s safe to expect Brady to have a solid, if unspectacular game. He’s a safe floor QB1.
RB LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, James White: The Ravens’ run defense is no joke. They are allowing less than 75 rushing yards per game and have given up just 4 rushing TDs all year. LeGarrette Blount still holds low-end RB2 status due to his league leading 13 rushing TDs, while Dion Lewis and James White cannibalize each other’s upside by evenly splitting the passing down work. Neither should be trusted as a starter.
WR Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell: Julian Edelman has returned to borderline WR1 status in PPR leagues with 3 straight games with 8 receptions. Malcolm Mitchell has emerged as a viable WR2/flex play with 3 TDs in his last 3 games and a low of 82 receiving yards.
TE Martellus Bennett: Unfortunately Martellus Bennett is playing through an injury and hasn’t been as dominant as he was earlier in the year. He’s a risky TE start against a Ravens’ defense allowing the 7th least points to opposing TEs.