Start’em Sit’em Week 14
Before we get into anything here, a congratulations is in order for a lot of you. Fantasy football playoffs are here and hoping this column, along with the rest of Gridiron Experts, has helped get you once step closer to a championship. While a little bit of celebrating is good for anyone, now is the time to put the pedal to the medal and bring home your fantasy title. That is exactly what this column is here to help you do. Finishing the deal and winning some titles with some great start and sit advice.
Last week was a pretty productive week for this column. Both Lamar Jackson and Jameis Winston would finish inside the top eleven at the position while Eli Manning, a suggested sit, would finish outside of the top 20. Other solid selections was suggesting to sit Tevin Coleman and to start Adam Humphries. If there was a low to this column, it was suggesting to sit Jarvis Landry. With all of that being, here are your week 14 starts and sits.
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Chargers vs. Bengals
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.0%
While Pat Mahomes has the NFL world swooning for more, Philip Rivers, another AFC West quarterback, has been putting on quite the show himself. After 13 weeks, Rivers is just one of three quarterbacks to finish each game inside the top 20 in scoring at his position. On top of that, this past weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rivers would finish just one yard shy of his fifth 300-yard performance in 2018. Up next for Philip Rivers and his fountain of youth season is the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. In the four out of the Bengals last six games, they have allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish inside the top 10 in scoring. The two weeks in which quarterbacks did not perform well was Lamar Jackson’s first career start and an underwhelming Case Keenum. Needless to say, Philip Rivers is far from the likes of Jackson and Keenum and I expect him to have a great game against a Bengals team that is fading into NFL obscurity. Lastly, those four 300-yard passing performances that I mentioned earlier, all of those have come at home. Rivers, as already mentioned, plays at home this weekend.
Browns vs. Panthers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 12.5%
Last week, I suggested that you start Jameis Winston against the Panthers defense. While I still consider Winston an honorable mention against the New Orleans Saints this week, I’m going to continue to bet against the Panthers as I now suggest that you plug Baker Mayfield into your starting lineups. Last week’s game against the Texans would mark the first time since Week 8 in which Mayfield would finish the week outside the top 15. This had to have been somewhat understandable to his owners as the Texans are allowing the ninth fewest points to quarterbacks. Despite that ranking, and despite finishing outside the top 15, Mayfield still threw for 397 yards. It should also be noted that prior to last week, Mayfield had five straight games with multiple touchdown passes. This weekend, I’m predicting fewer turnovers and more fantasy points as he faces off against a Panthers defense that is allowing the sixth most points to quarterbacks. Since Week 10, the Panthers have allowed quarterbacks to throw ten touchdowns and zero interceptions. Don’t be shocked if Mayfield turns that Panthers number into a baker’s dozen.
Eagles at Cowboys
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 27.9%
Due to the Kareem Hunt story, the shelf life of the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New Orleans Saints was short lived. While it didn’t remain a hot topic for very long, the Cowboys recent play is not something that should be ignored, especially if you are planning on starting Carson Wentz this weekend. Headed into Week 14, the Cowboys are allowing the eighth-fewest points to the position. Most recently, over the past two weeks, quarterbacks have finished outside the top 20 at the position. I’ll grant you, one of the three games in which the Cowboys did allow a quarterback to finish tenth or better did come against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. To go a little further on that last statement, the selection of sitting Wentz has less to do with him and more to do with the Cowboys themselves. After last week’s Thursday Night Football, when the Cowboys forced Drew Brees to under 150 passing yards for just the third time since 2010, I’m choosing to not hinge my championship hopes this week on Carson Wentz.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Redskins vs. Giants
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 52.3%
Earlier this season when Adrian Peterson went up against the Giants, the future hall of fame back would rush for 149 yards and a touchdown. Now, with the Redskins needing him more than ever, Peterson will be asked to deliver yet another age-defying performance against the aforementioned Giants. Peterson isn’t the only back to have success against the Giants as they are allowing the seventh most points to the position. That ranking has held firm late in the season as they have allowed the running back position to finish in the top 10 in scoring in four out of their last five games played. While the understandable concern with Peterson is delivering dominant performances in consecutive in consecutive weeks, it should be noted that his 98 yards rushing last week came off of just nine carries. Coupling the opponent and the workload along the Redskins glaring issues at quarterback, I’m banking on Peterson to have enough left in the tank to be one of the top running backs in Week 14.
Chiefs vs. Ravens
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 54.6%
Last week, I had suggested that you sit Tevin Coleman against this same Ravens defense. That turned out to be one of the better calls of the week for me as Coleman would have just 11 yards of offense on seven touches. This week, with a starting percentage over fifty percent, I’m suggesting that you sit Spencer Ware against the Ravens. On top of limited Tevin Coleman last week, this season, the Ravens defense is allowing the fewest points to the running back position. On top of the what the Ravens have been able to do defensively, I have concerns as to how much usage Ware is going to get in the Chiefs offense. While Ware was able to score a touchdown in Week 13, he would do it off of just 15 total touches. Most fantasy owners were of the mindset that following the departure of Kareem Hunt, Ware would just simply absorb Hunt’s workload in a given game plan. Given the fact that Hunt had 15 or fewer total touches just once this season, the Chiefs bringing in Charcandrick West, and their Week 14 opponent, I think those who are looking to cash-in on Ware’s opportunity will regret it.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Browns vs. Panthers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 42.0%
Last week, I had Jarvis Landry as a sit recommendation. After his first top fifteen finish since Week 7, I have eaten my words and am ready to recommend that you start Landry in Week 14. To be clear, my recommendation this week isn’t to right a wrong from last week, it has much more to do with Browns next opponent, the Carolina Panthers. In three out of their last four games, the Panthers have been in the top three in point allowed to the wide receiver position. Then comes Landry’s Week 13 performance which serves as a shimmer of hope headed into your fantasy playoffs. While he may not have scored a touchdown last week, Landry would see the most targets in a game since Freddie Kitchens had become the Browns offensive coordinator. The former Dolphin would haul in six of nine targets for 103 yards. It would be the first time Landry would hit 100 receiving yards in a game since Mayfield guided the Browns to their momentous win against the Jets. The Panthers poor play may be the best opportunity for Landry to have his consecutive games in the top fifteen this season.
Buccaneers vs. Saints
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 21.7%
Last week, Adam Humphries graced this column and rewarded those would start him with a touchdown for the third consecutive week. While his starting has slowly risen, there are still some who are clearly skeptical about starting the Buccaneers’ pass catcher. I’m advising that you once again plug Humphries into the lineup as the Buccaneers prepare to take on the Saints. After twelve games this season, no team is allowing more receptions and yards to wide receivers than the Saints. The numbers that the Saints are allowing are ideal for a Buccaneers team that is number one in the league in passing yards. With zero 100-yard games this season, Humphries is touchdown dependent yet still relevant in point per reception formats. His fantasy return is comparable to a Julian Edelman or a Jarvis Landry and I love his chances to finish inside the top fifteen for the third time since Week 9.
Bengals at Chargers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 45.7%
To put it mildly, things are falling apart for the Cincinnati Bengals. First, AJ Green went down with a foot injury. In his absence, Tyler Boyd was only able to have one top 10 performance. Then, Andy Dalton suffered a thumb injury that had the quarterback to the injured reserve. The final shot came this week as Green’s return was short lived as he too is now finished for the season. Boyd, who is one of the few bright spots left on the Bengals offense, will now head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. While Philip Rivers is garnering a lot of the headlines for the Chargers, their defense is allowing the eighth-fewest points to the wide receiver position. Most recently, in Weeks 10 through 12, the Chargers were in the top seven of the fewest points allowed to the position. While last week, the Chargers secondary would have some problem with the Steelers, this Bengals offense is nowhere near the threat that the Steelers are. While Boyd has been a nice complementary piece in this Bengals offense, I do not trust him against a teams top coverage and am understandably skeptical as to how efficient this Bengals offense will be.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Steelers at Raiders
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 21.7%
This week, the Pittsburgh Steelers will head to Oakland to take on a Raiders defense that is allowing the most points to the tight end position. That is including a league-high nine touchdowns and the second most receiving yards with 896. This also includes, over the last two weeks, the Raiders are allowing an average of 29.5 points per game in a half point leagues. This presents a nice opportunity for Vance McDonald who has been a top 10 tight end in two out of the last four weeks. Given the Raiders reputation against the position and McDonald being targeted five or more times in eight out of his 11 games, do not be shocked to see the Steelers tight end score his first touchdown since Week 11.
Jets at Bills
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.0%
Last week, the Jets went up against the Titans whom I thought would be too tough of a matchup for Chris Herndon. This may garner some criticism but I do not like the overachieving tight end again, this time against the Buffalo Bills. After twelve games, the Bills are allowing the fifth fewest points to the position which includes a league-low, 425 yards receiving. When you look even closer, things get even worse for tight ends that are going up against the Bills. Coming out of their bye week, over the last two games, the Bills have allowed just 2.4 points to tight ends. So despite the fact that Herndon has 14 targets over his last two games, I do not like his chances against another tough opponent.
Start’em Sit’em Team Defense/ ST
Giants at Redskins
I will grant you, things started off really ugly for the Giants as a whole. Lately, the team has begun playing better and from a defensive standpoint, fantasy points have reflected that. The Giants DST has been in top six among scoring defenses in two out of their last three games. Now they head to Washington to take on a Redskins team that is licking their wounds at the quarterback position. The Giants will have some trouble stopping the run but beyond that, I think the Giants can easily force some of these Redskins quarterbacks into bad turnovers.
Panthers at Browns
If you are a frequent reader of this column, you know full well that this Panthers defense has been struggling. A lot of times we are judging that based on what opposing players are doing. Things look even more alarming when you’re looking at what their defense, from a fantasy standpoint, has been able to do. Over their last four games, the Panthers DST has scored just six points. That is a bad number and I don’t envision Baker Mayfield throwing multiple interceptions for a second week in a row.