Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 14 of the 2017 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.
Please Note: 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 Drew Brees, 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)
In his first game back, Jameis Winston threw for 270 yards and two scores against Green Bay - OK for a guy coming off three missed games. He should look better this week against a Detroit defense that have surrendered an average of 20.2 fantasy points over the last five games to Tier 3-type quarterbacks (Trubisky, Hundley, Keenum, Flacco, and Kizer). 20 fantasy points is not out of the realm of possibility here.
Start 'em Alex Smith (KC, QB)
Alex Smith is coming off a game where he put up the single best fantasy day that any quarterback has had all year - 366 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 picks, and a nice 70-yard run. Keep him in your lineup for another sweet matchup against the Raiders who give up the tenth most yards through the air and the third most fantasy points to QB's this year.
Start 'em Rex Burkhead (NE, RB)
Rex Burkhead has been one of the hottest running backs over the last few games. Ranked 13th this week (PPR), he's coming off his second straight 2-TD game. One of those games was in Week 12 and was against Miami - the same opponent he'll play on Monday night. Burkhead put up 19.3 points in that one and could put up similar numbers once again.
Start 'em Kenyan Drake (MIA, RB)
Without Damien Williams in the mix, Kenyan Drake rushed 23 times for 120 yards and a score last week. When he faced the Patriots in Week 12, he put up 11.7 points with Williams sharing duties. Even if Williams can play this week, Drake has earned more touches and would still be a solid RB2. He would have RB1 potential if the backfield is his to own.
Start 'em Josh Gordon (CLE, WR)
When we suggested sitting Josh Gordon last week, it was the right call. He hauled in just four of his 11 targets against a difficult defense. He's ranked 23rd this week on FFN against a Packers defense that gives up the 5th-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position. We expect him to see similar volume this week, and he's likely to be ranked higher, but DeShone Kizer has been a terrible QB frequently overthrowing or underthrowing his receivers. In any event, Gordon is worth consideration as WR2/3 or Flex option this week.
Start 'em Michael Crabtree (OAK, WR)
Fresh off a one-week suspension, Michael Crabtree should be fresh and ready to put up big numbers against the Chiefs. When he faced them in Week 7, he put up 11.4 points...but Amari Cooper put up a whopping 44 fantasy points. Cooper is a legitimate question mark this week meaning that Crabtree could essentially have most of the targets to himself. Kansas City gives up the 2nd-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year putting Crabtree into must-start status.
Start 'em Hunter Henry (LAC, TE)
Hunter Henry has come on strong the last two games averaging 6 catches for 78 yards. He's ranked 9th this week among tight ends facing a Washington defense that has given up the 3rd-most fantasy points to the position this season.
Start 'em Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
The Cowboys' all-time leading receiver makes for an excellent start this week. Dak Prescott may be a question mark, but Jason Witten should put up solid numbers. Nobody has given up more yards per game or fantasy points per game to tight ends than the Giants making Witten a Top 10 option.
Start 'em Green Bay Packers (GB, DEF)
If you've been streaming defenses this year, look for the Packers to help you win Week 14. They're ranked 3rd this week among all defenses on FFN facing a Browns team that has given up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing DST's. Their defense had a solid fantasy day against the Bucs putting up 15 fantasy points. A matchup with the winless Browns is just what the fantasy doctor ordered.
Start 'em Ryan Succop (TEN, K)
Ryan Succop has been a Top 5 fantasy kicker this year. He's ranked inside our Top 10 this week facing an Arizona defense that gives up 9.4 fantasy points every week to kickers. Keep Succop in your lineup.
Sit 'em Kirk Cousins (WAS, QB)
Cousins is ranked 15th this week putting him in QB2 territory. The Chargers have allowed just one quarterback to reach 20+ fantasy points and that hasn't happened since Week 1. If Tom Brady, Alex Smith, and Carson Wentz can't produce more than 17 fantasy points, why would anyone think that Kirk Cousins could?
Sit 'em Andy Dalton (CIN, QB)
Andy Dalton looked really impressive during the first half of Monday night's game finding A.J. Green in the endzone twice. He looked positively awful during the second half throwing for just 61 yards. His fortunes are unlikely to change against a Bears secondary that gives up the 9th-fewest fantasy points to signal callers this year.
Sit 'em Danny Woodhead (BAL, RB)
If you picked up Danny Woodhead hoping that he'd return to PPR-goodness, keep hoping. It's the Alex Collins show now. Woodhead hasn't been a big part of the offense since coming back from injury. In fact, he's averaging less than three carries per game and less than four receptions. Pittsburgh gives up the 2nd-fewest yards on the ground making this a tough matchup for ol' Danny Boy.
Sit 'em Doug Martin (TB, RB)
Doug Martin was a full participant in practice this week and is expected to resume his starting role, but that doesn't mean that he should be started. Martin has been a major disappointment for fantasy owners this year averaging a measly 3.2 yards per carry. He's averaged less than 5 fantasy points (PPR) over his last five games and will likely lose some work to Peyton Barber who shown bright in Martin's absence last week. Leave Martin on the bench.
Sit 'em Robby Anderson (NYJ, WR)
One of the most consistent and reliable options in fantasy over the last five games has been Robby Anderson. He's put up back-to-back 100 yard games, but even the best wide receivers have struggled against Denver's secondary. The Broncos give up the 6th-fewest fantasy points per game putting Anderson in flex consideration only.
Sit 'em Kelvin Benjamin (BUF, WR)
Benjamin returned to practice this week, and even though he's officially questionable, we expect him to suit up against an Indy defense that gives up the most yards per game through the air. The matchup is sweet (all three Jacksonville receivers last week put up double-digit points), but is Kelvin Benjamin trustworthy with the fantasy playoffs on the line? His #43 ranking this week would indicate that the industry doesn't think so.
Sit 'em Vernon Davis (WAS, TE)
Despite favorable matchups and an absent Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis has not been a factor. There's little reason to think that will change in a tough matchup with the Chargers on Sunday. Los Angeles gives up the 5th-fewest yards through the air and the 4th-fewest fantasy points to the TE position. Davis is ranked 15th this week putting him outside starting territory.
Sit 'em Greg Olsen (CAR, TE)
Greg Olsen is ranked inside our Top 10 this week, but this is a case where disagreeing with the rankings is likely the best course of action. Olsen is practicing fully this week after aggravating his foot in Week 12 and sitting out last week. With the fantasy playoffs in sight, Olsen is a gamble...particularly in a tough matchup with the Vikings who give up the 5th-fewest fantasy points to the position.
Sit 'em Baltimore Ravens (BAL, DEF)
Coming off a fantastic 15 fantasy point performance, the Baltimore Ravens solidified their spot as one of the most dominating fantasy defenses this season. That's likely to change Sunday night facing the Pittsburgh Steelers who have surrendered the 6th-fewest fantasy points this year.
Sit 'em Kai Forbath (MIN, K)
Even though Kai Forbath has been the ninth-best kicker in fantasy this year, he'll have his work cut out for him this week against the Panthers. Carolina gives up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to the position.