Welcome to the Playoffs! Congratulations on surviving a gruelingly unpredictable season. But don’t celebrate just yet; you’re only halfway to the goal. To reach that ultimate goal, you’ll now need to pay a lot of attention to each and every position each and every week.
Also, as the season winds down, you'll need to keep each real-life team's playoff chances in mind because motivation is the strongest determinant of relative performance late in the season. For example, QBs like Eli Manning (NYG) and Matt Ryan (ATL) will be giving it all as their teams battle for playoff spots and seeds. On the other hand, disheartened signal callers like Kyle Orton (DEN) should downgraded as they are likely to fold their cards before the end of the year.
Here is who to go with in Week 14:
|Joe Flacco @ HOU
|Flacco has only thrown for fewer than 250 yards once in the last seven weeks, and that was on short rest in a hostile environment. Last week, he was even able to muster 266 yards against a bloodthirsty Steelers defense. This week, his task will be easier.
Flacco and the Ravens head to relatively balmy Houston for a Monday night matchup against the league’s worst pass defense when it comes to yardage or touchdowns. With an extra day to rest and prepare, he will be ready to tear apart the Texans secondary. If you need to pin your playoff prospects on one QB this week, it’s Joe Flacco.
|Jon Kitna vs. PHI
|Since being named the starter, Kitna has alternated from week-to-week between 300+ yard passing games and games in which he throws for fewer than 200 yards. On odd stat, but beneficial considering that he threw for 167 yards last week. His chances are good to continue the trend considering he’ll face a Philadelphia defense that has given up big numbers to opposing QBs in three out of their last four games. Even minus Dez Bryant, I like Kitna as my surprise performer in week 14.
|Kyle Orton @ ARI
|Kyle Orton had a bad game last week, no doubt about it. Against the Chiefs, he barely threw for 100 yards. Still, I’d start him this week as the Broncos go to Arizona. The Cardinals are giving up the third most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Also, keep in mind that Orton’s numbers generally improve when he leaves Mile High Stadium.
|Jay Cutler vs NE
|Recently, Cutler’s attempts are down and he’s been incredibly inconsistent in his last four games, throwing 3, 0, 4 and 1 touchdown respectively. This week might be one of his better ones as the Pats travel to the Windy City on short rest. As is, New England gives up the second most passing yards so Cutler may be able to take advantage of the tired defense. He gets a tentative nod from me.
|Matt Ryan @ CAR
|After a pedestrian performance against Tampa Bay, I expect Matt Ryan to bounce back strong against another divisional foe this week. The Falcons will be energized and fighting for playoff seeding while the Panthers are demoralized, the perfect storm for a Falcons blowout. The best part about Ryan is his low floor; he’s thrown a touchdown every week since the first and has never thrown for fewer than 185 yards.
And here is who to sit in Week 14:
|Matt Cassel @SD
|Matt Cassel has been the fantasy surprise of the second half thus far by tearing opponents apart at an incredible clip. Since Week 8, he’s thrown for 13 touchdowns in just five games. Dwayne Bowe has emerged as a premier target and the Chiefs now have a powerful passing game to go with the two-headed running attack.
All that said, I’m not crazy about Cassel this week as the Chiefs travel to San Diego. Firstly, Cassel was slowed by a Broncos defense that he destroyed just a few weeks ago. Did they find a weak spot in his game from game film? If they did, the Chargers certainly will too. San Diego is giving up the fewest passing yards in the NFL and the whole team will be furious after an embarrassing loss to the rival Raiders last week. If you had picked Matt Cassel up, it’s time to sit him back down.
|Mark Sanchez vs. MIA
|In a public embarrassment by the Patriots, Sanchize was held to fewer than 200 yards for a second straight week and his midseason renaissance has seemingly come to a halt. This week, he will have a tough time bouncing back. On short rest, the Jets will have to prepare for a Dolphins defense that is giving up the fifth fewest passing yards. While the 2nd year QB has had success against Miami, I wouldn’t put my season in his hands if you’ve got the chance.
|Matt Schaub vs. BAL
|Schaub finally excelled last week, burning many a fantasy owner who had finally bailed on him before last Thursday’s performance. Still, don’t jump on the bandwagon quite yet. This week, Schaub will face a top-10 Ravens pass defense. I’m not convinced that Schaub is the every-week starter we expected him to be. He may get some yards, but there are better options this week.
|Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. CLE
|After generating a groundswell of praise, Ryan Fitzpatrick is now regressing, posting two mediocre performances in the last two weeks, due largely to atrocious line play as well as poor receiving. Neither of those issues will be resolved by the time the Browns and their top-10 defense come to town this week. While still viable in two-quarterback leagues, Fitzpatrick shouldn’t be starting in one-QB leagues barring extenuating circumstances.
|Donovan McNabb vs. TB
|Despite getting numerous attempts, McNabb is still unable to register passing touchdowns. He only has one multi-TD game this year and that came with three interceptions. He has been putting up yardage, but even that may be in jeopardy as he faces a Bucs pass defense that is 7th in pass yards against. I hope you’re not relying on McNabb in the playoffs; you need to sit him.