Congratulations to those of you who have either qualified for your fantasy playoffs, or are on the verge of doing so. Months of research and dedication that have been placed into managing your fantasy teams have not quite ended, and this no huddle approach can help you identify this week's best starts, and most advisable sits at the QB, RB, WR and TE positions. Your time won’t be wasted with recommendations that you start Drew Brees or LeSean McCoy. Nor will you be reading about the need to keep Trent Richardson or Ray Rice affixed to your benches. Instead, there will be a focus on less obvious player evaluations as we enter Week 14. Game time is approaching. With that in mind, we’ll launch into this week’s starts and sits.
Nick Foles vs. Lions
Some owners snatched him from the waiver wire in hopes that he could be the alternative to their disappointing starter, while others hoped that he could backup their regular QB1. In either case, he is firmly established as an every week starter after generating three more TD passes against the often dangerous Cardinal defense. He has now thrown 19 this season, and has yet to suffer an INT. Now, he faces Detroit’s 26th ranked pass defense that has allowed 21 TDs. Plus, Chip Kelly just proclaimed that “he is the starting quarterback for the next 1000 years here”. Now that is job security is it not? Start him, enjoy his production once again, and know that he might be leading you to a championship.
Carson Palmer vs. Rams
The 11-year veteran has resurrected his season by assembling a commendable series of performances. He has now produced 11 TDs in the Cardinals past five games by throwing at least two in each of those contests. Palmer has averaged 345 YPG in his last four games, and 286 YPG in his last seven. His high quality output should continue this week, versus a Ram pass defense that he burned for 327 yards and two TDs on opening day. Josh McCown, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick have combined for 980 passing yards against St. Louis during their last three games, and Palmer should perpetuate his recent success on Sunday.
Andy Dalton vs. Colts
It is so tempting to use him this week isn’t it? Particularly after realizing that he will be lining up at home versus a Colt pass defense that has permitted 886 yards and six TDs in their last three road games. The problem for Dalton will certainly not be his opposition, but lies within Dalton himself. The third-year signal caller leaves far too many fantasy points on the field through misfiring on open receivers. Plus, 10 of his 16 INTs have occurred in Cincinnati’s past five contests. Is it possible that he rebounds in this matchup? Yes. But it’s not worth the risk to find out. Even owners in 2 QB leagues should examine their options before using him.
Andrew Luck vs. Bengals
He still possesses immense talent, but there are too many issues from within that are conspiring to restrict his production. The loss of Reggie Wayne, misplaced strategy by OC Pep Hamilton, and an O-line that has permitted him to be sacked 29 times have contributed to his decline in value. He is currently 15th in passing yards, and 16th with 15 TDs. He has managed a grand total of four scoring throws since Week 9, which was also the last time that he has generated more than one in a game. Now he must contend with the NFL’s eighth best pass defense, and it is time for owners to look elsewhere.
DeMarco Murray at Bears
Chicago has plummeted to the bottom of the rankings in rush defense, is yielding 154 YPG and allowed 15 TDs on the ground. In the past four contests, Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham combined for 196 yards and two scores, Ray Rice amassed 131 yards and a TD, Reggie Bush gashed them for 105, and Eddie Lacy shredded them for 150 and yet another score. Little more explanation is necessary, beyond making sure that Murray is in your lineups for this contest.
Eddie Lacy vs. Falcons
Owners were warned prior to his Thanksgiving Day matchup with Detroit that the Lions’ fourth ranked run defense would be formidable. But 16 yards on 10 attempts was still difficult to absorb. Still, even though drive killer QB Matt Flynn will be guiding Green Bay’s offense once again, do not jeopardize your chances of winning by overreacting, and needlessly benching Lacy this week. His matchup against the NFL’s 30th ranked run stoppers is exceptional. And much better output is imminent this week.
Ben Tate at Jaguars
If you own Tate, then this hardly seems like a simple decision for you. Do you place more stock into the 122 yards and three TDs that he accumulated against a poor New England run defense in Week 13? Or should you be concerned with the nightmarish stat line of seven carries for one lonely yard when he faced these same Jaguars in Week 12? The belief here is that you start Tate as a RB2 or flex in this rematch. Because he will deliverable far better numbers versus the NFL’s 29th ranked rush defense, that is permitting 130 YPG.
Pierre Thomas vs. Panthers
That was fun while it lasted for Thomas owners, as he averaged 97 total yards between Weeks 5-11. But the stream of steady production evaporated quickly in Seattle, as Thomas only managed 21 yards on eight touches. While it is unlikely that the Saints will fall far behind the Panthers as they did against the Seahawks, yardage will be exceedingly difficult for Thomas to attain. Not only does Carolina’s imposing run defense rank second, but the sixth ranked pass defense will also supply a daunting challenge. That will pose a serious threat toward his ability to accumulate yardage, despite his capabilities as a duel threat. There are RBs with far easier matchups this week.
Donald Brown at Bengals
Anyone who started him last week experienced a veritable nightmare until just over eight minutes were left in the contest, as Brown had been limited to just eight yards. Fortunately, he amassed 46 yards and a TD during the Colts’ deciding drive. Even though he will garner more opportunities than the dreadfully ineffective Trent Richardson, his owners escaped a potential nightmare last week. Entrusting him to be successful while attempting to navigate through Cincinnati’s eighth ranked run defense is far too risky.
Danny Woodhead vs. Giants
The hefty employment of Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen, has combined with the ascension of Ladarius Green to reduce Woodhead’s opportunities in the past three weeks, as he has averaged less than nine touches during that span. Even more unsettling are his successive snaps counts of 24, 33 and 28 within that period. Not exactly the type of workload that owners desire as they consider Woodhead for their lineups. He can be deployed as a flex, but the recommendation from here is to utilize an option that is allotted more chances to generate your points.
Torrey Smith vs. Vikings
After producing just one TD in Baltimore’s first eight games, Smith has scored three times in the last four. Plus, he has amassed 167 yards in the past two contests. This week, the 30th ranked Minnesota pass defense should provide the perfect elixir for Smith to continue his recent surge in production. The Vikings are allowing opponents to generate 287 YPG through the air, and have yielded a NFL worst 26 TDs. Much of that output has been manufactured by opponents’ secondary receivers. But the Ravens are largely dependent upon Smith for their aerial attack, and Joe Flacco will locate him repeatedly.
Michael Floyd vs. Rams
In the past three contests, Floyd has been targeted 28 times. And he has responded by accumulating 396 of the 860 yards that he has amassed this season. Plus, he has scored two of his four TDs. There is no reason to fear a dip in his production, as Carson Palmer should keep him highly involved once again this week. That should enable Floyd to deliver more high quality production when they face St. Louis. Floyd bolted for 82 yards on four receptions when these division rivals met in Week 1, and he will garner even more opportunities during their rematch.
Roddy White at Packers
From 2007-2012, White averaged just over 1,295 yards, while collecting at least 83 passes every year during that span. But heading into Week 13, White had been targeted just 38 times, and managed just 20 receptions during what had been a thoroughly lost season. However, he turned back the clock in resounding fashion last Sunday, while collecting 10 of his 14 targets for 143 yards. Owners can finally start him with confidence this week against a Green Bay pass defense that has surrendered 1,296 yards and 12 TDs in their last five contests.
Marques Colston vs. Panthers
If you eliminate the 187 yards that he amassed in Weeks 10-11, Colston has managed just 45 YPG this season. If that number is not disturbing enough, his average drops to just 33.5 over the past two weeks. His inability to find the end zone has been equally deflating for owners, as he has scored just once since Week 1. This week’s daunting matchup with Carolina is not the time to anticipate a sudden resurrection of what will be his worst season since 2008.
Mike Wallace at Steelers
After his first 10 games as a Dolphin, Wallace averaged 53 YPG, and had scored just once. But after being targeted 20 times during Miami’s past two contests, he has amassed 209 yards and two TDs. That includes a season high 127 versus Carolina in Week 11. But he is likely to deliver disappointing numbers in upcoming weeks, and that process will begin in Pittsburgh. You may read elsewhere about Wallace’s motivation to excel against his former team. But the Steelers will also be highly focused in this matchup, and will be particularly inspired in their efforts to neutralize Wallace.
Danny Amendola vs. Browns
While the production of Amendola and Edelman theoretically cancel each other out, the fact is that Amendola has only exceeded six targets once since Week 2, while Julian Edelman has garnered at least seven in nine different games. That includes 23 in the past two weeks, while Amendola collected less than half of that number (11). Amendola's modest number of opportunities have limited his output, as he has only surpassed 55 yards twice all season. While the script could be altered with the Patriot offense at any time, Edelman has received more opportunities with far too much consistently to believe that Amendola will deliver for you.
Jared Cook at Cardinals
It originally appeared that the former Titan had joined an offensive system that would take full advantage of his extreme athleticism, and exploit matchup advantages would be inherent with the 6’5”, 255 pound TE. But after Cook collected seven receptions for 141 yards and two TDs in Week 1, his production had been largely nonexistent. However, he has garnered seven catches for 129 yards in his last two contests, Now he should benefit from a matchup with an Arizona defense that has been a formidable unit overall, but has allowed an NFL worst 13 TDs to TEs this season. Cook should be able to exploit them again.
Heath Miller vs. Dolphins
With 25 targets over the past three weeks, Miller remains entrenched as an essential component within Pittsburgh’s offense. He has also demonstrated a sufficient level of consistency, averaging 65 YPG. If you believe that your lineup needs a TE hat will find the end zone this week, then he may not be your guy. His only TD of the season occurred back in Week 7. However, if your plan for this critical week is to start a safe TE, who all but ensures that you will receive points from this position, Miller is an excellent start.
Zach Ertz vs. Lions
It is important not to overreact in the aftermath of last week’s output. While he did produce a season high 68 yards, and two TDs, that occurred against the aforementioned Arizona unit. His numbers speak volumes about the overly charitable nature of the Cardinals in that one particular aspect of their defense, and does not represent any type of surge in fantasy points by the rookie. This week’s matchup is actually at the opposite end of the spectrum, as the Lions have been stingy toward opposing TEs.
Jordan Cameron at Patriots
Many owners are still continually searching for a consistent starter in what has been a challenging roster position throughout the season. That understandably makes it difficult to sit Cameron. But it remains advisable to disregard his early season output, and accept the reality of his underwhelming numbers since that time. He has been held out of the end zone in five consecutive contests, and seven of his last eight. And even though he has received 24 targets in the past three games, he has averaged 35 yards. Look elsewhere for your starter.