Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 14 of the 2015 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Jameis Winston (TB, QB)
There may never be a better time to start Jameis Winston than this week as indicated by his #7 ranking. It seems as if every New Orleans game turns into the shootout at the OK Corral, and with the Saints giving up the 2nd-most passing yards per game, Winston should be throwing a lot.
Start 'em Tyrod Taylor (BUF, QB)
Like Winston above, it's not every day that we get to see guys outside the "norm" in the Top 10, but Tyrod Taylor comes in at #10 facing an Eagles team coming off a big win. Philly gives up the 9th-most passing yards and opposing QB's have put up an average of 26.5 points over the past five weeks. Great matchup.
Start 'em LeSean McCoy (BUF, RB)
LeSean McCoy may not have lived up to our expectations this year, but this is the game that both he and fantasy owners have been looking forward to all year. Shady will face Chip Kelly and the Eagles and revenge-matches always produce solid points. McCoy is ranked #1 this week for the first time all year. It also doesn't hurt that Philly gives up the 6th-most rushing yards per game.
Start 'em Thomas Rawls (SEA, RB)
The Seahawks are not missing Marshawn Lynch one bit with Thomas Rawls going full-steam ahead. The Ravens are pretty solid against the run but Rawls is on a major roll right now and should still see double digit production.
Start 'em Doug Martin (TB, RB)
It's so rare to see the top 4 spots in the rankings without an Adrian Peterson or Devonta Freeman, but spot #3 goes to Doug Martin this week facing a Saints team with nothing more to play for. Nobody gives up more yards on the ground than New Orleans this year.
Start 'em Brandin Cooks (NO, WR)
Coming into this week's rankings at #14 is Brandin Cooks who will face a middle-of-the-road Tampa Bay secondary. When Drew Brees is throwing bombs down the field, Cooks has become a pretty reliable target. Even if the Saints can't pull out a win, fantasy owners should win with Cooks in their lineup. Great WR2 option.
Start 'em Martavis Bryant (PIT, WR)
Martavis Bryant has become must-start material. His speed and explosiveness is a tremendous compliment to Antonio Brown which is why you'll find both of those guys in the Top 16 this week. The Bengals D is pretty solid and this should be a shootout. Bryant scored 5 points (9 ppr) in Week 8 but wasn't as involved in the offense at that point. Look for him to go big or go home this week.
Start 'em Delanie Walker (TEN, TE)
The most consistent option on the Tennessee offense is easily Delanie Walker who has far outpaced any preseason expectations that any of us had. While the Jets have been tough on tight ends this year, Walker is firing on all cylinders right now. At #5 in this week's rankings, he is the only Titan that we'd recommend starting.
Start 'em Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB, TE)
If you're in a bind and want to take a chance, Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be the guy to plug into your lineups. He doesn't have a track record this season to speak of, but he's healthy and playing a New Orleans team that bleeds yards through the air. ASJ is ranked 11th this week ahead of guys like Jason Witten, Heath Miller, and Zach Ertz.
Start 'em Green Bay Packers (GB, DEF)
Ranked 8th this week are the Green Bay Packers. They're at home against a Cowboys team led by Matt Cassel who have imploded without Tony Romo. Dez and Witten will be keyed in on and Peppers and Matthews will bring plenty of pressure on Cassel.
Start 'em Graham Gano (CAR, K)
It's not difficult to see how the kicker from the NFL's only remaining undefeated team could land at the top of the kicker rankings this week. The Panthers have managed to put points up on the board no matter the situation. Whether it's extra points or field goals, we expect to see Graham Gano on the field quite a bit.
Sit 'em Derek Carr (OAK, QB)
No other defense has given up fewer yards or points to QB's than the Broncos which is why you'll find Derek Carr ranked 25th this year putting him just outside even 2-QB leagues. Only three QB's have gotten double-digit fantasy points against Denver this year and only Tom Brady got more than 20 points.
Sit 'em Marcus Mariota (TEN, QB)
Unless you're in a 2-QB league, it's probably best to leave Marcus Mariota on the bench this week. Mariota will face a Jets defense that should have Darrelle Revis back (concussion) and has kept most QB's in check including Eli's 14 point showing last week.
Sit 'em Eddie Lacy (GB, RB)
A matchup with the Cowboys at home at Lambeau Field would seem like an ideal situation, but Eddie Lacy isn't in an ideal situation. This call is all about trust - trust that he'll get the workload - trust that he'll make the most of that workload - trust that he doesn't miss curfew. Other than DeMarco Murray and Devonta Freeman, the Cowboys have been pretty decent against the run making Lacy a risky play this week.
Sit 'em Latavius Murray (OAK, RB)
Latavius Murray has done a decent job this year for fantasy owners, but a matchup with the Broncos will be tough to overcome. Denver gives up the 5th-fewest yards per game on the ground allowing only three RB's to reach double digit fantasy points this year (Peterson, Gore, and Charcandrick West).
Sit 'em Randall Cobb (GB, WR)
Most fantasy owners drafted Randall Cobb in the early rounds this year, and with Jordy Nelson out for the season, Cobb has failed to live up to our expectations. We don't anticipate his fortunes changing against a Dallas secondary that gives up the 5th-fewest yards per game.
Sit 'em Amari Cooper (OAK, WR)
You'll have to look all the way down to #32 to find Amari Cooper this week. That's because he has a matchup with Aqib Talib and a Denver secondary that gives up the fewest yards through the air in all of the NFL. You'll have to go back to Week 6 to find a WR1 who has seen double digit fantasy production. Cooper is a WR3/Flex option this week.
Sit 'em Antonio Gates (SD, TE)
Yes, Gates is ranked 6th this week, but we think that's out of line with a more realistic expectation of what he'll be able to produce. The Chiefs have been brutal to tight ends this year with only Tyler Eifert coming close to double digit production in PPR formats (9.9 pts in Week 4). It's likely that Gates struggles on Sunday.
Sit 'em Jordan Cameron (MIA, TE)
Coming into this week's rankings at #24 is Jordan Cameron who has been a disappointment to fantasy owners this year. On paper, Cameron should be a must-start against a Giants secondary that gives up a lot of yards but not much to the TE position. The industry is just not high on Cameron any longer. Fool me once...twice...three times...you get the picture.
Sit 'em Cincinnati Bengals (CIN, DEF)
Normally a pretty stout defense, Cincinnatti will have their hands full this week against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Whether it's Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant through the air or DeAngelo Williams on the ground, the Pittsburgh offense is very efficient and productive. This will be a tough test for the Bengals.
Sit 'em Justin Tucker (BAL, K)
Facing a Seahawks defense that gives up the 3rd-fewest points per game, Justin Tucker can be found all the way down the rankings this week at #21. We'd rather have a jason Myers, Nick Novak, or even a Phil Dawson this week over Tucker.