The fantasy playoffs are officially underway. If you started the Los Angeles Rams defense on Thursday night, congrats on your head start in Week 14. This week things are a little different. In the fantasy playoffs, there is no tomorrow. We don’t play the law of averages and just let the chips fall where they may. This is the week you should consider sitting a starter who has been an auto-start all year if the matchup is unfavorable. Bad weather can kill you, bad quarterbacks can kill you, and complacency will kill you. For that reason, you need to do a little extra due diligence to make sure you go into this round with the best possible lineup. To help you out, here are this week’s fantasy start/sit suggestions.
Tom Brady (Bucs) vs. Minnesota Vikings (Week 14 position rank: 11th)
It’s understandable that people overlook Brady in the rankings a bit as he’s had a few bad games this season, but it’s important to gain some perspective. Tough defenses like the Saints (he finished as QB30) and Rams (QB19) are nothing to take lightly. We must also consider that Brady has had seven top 10 finishes, including four top five finishes. When he’s good, he’s been real good. This week he’ll face a vulnerable Vikings secondary that has given up several huge games against good quarterbacks this year.
Kyler Murray (Cardinals) vs. New York Giants (Week 14 position rank: 10th)
Murray is having a great sophomore season as he’s currently the fourth-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in the league. And he was a model of consistency as he finished inside the top 12 QB’s in each of his first ten games of the year. But suddenly, Murray has slipped as he hasn’t thrown for 175 yards passing in each of the last two games. This week he’ll face a Giants defense that surprisingly has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Murray may have gotten you to the dance, but don’t feel compelled to ride or die with him if a better quarterback option presents itself.
It might not seem sensible to start a backup running back when Aaron Jones is perfectly healthy, but Williams could end up being a sneaky good play this week. The Lions defense allows the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, averaging over 30 points a game. The last time Detroit faced Green Bay, the Packers running backs reeled off over 50 fantasy points. Granted, Jones got the bulk of those points, and that should also be true on Sunday, but Williams is likely to see double-digits touches, and his efficiency could make him a viable flex play this week.
Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) vs. Ravens (Week 14 position rank: 21st)
The dynamic receiving back has taken a back seat in recent games once Nick Chubb returned to action. Obviously, there was going to be an overall volume dip, but Hunt’s fantasy production is feeling the effects. After finishing RB12 or better in four of the first seven games, Hunt has failed to achieve that mark in any of his last five games. And he’s finished outside the top 25 in four of his last five games. Not only is Hunt fading, but he faces a tough Baltimore defense that allows the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. And the Ravens are particularly effective against receiving backs.
Beasley has been getting a lot of work recently with double-digit targets in two of the last three games. In fact, in each of those two games Beasley racked up over 100 yards and scored a touchdown, finishing as a top three wide receiver both times. With John Brown out of action, Bill’s quarterback Josh Allen is looking to his slot receiver frequently. Against the Steelers, the running game should be rather challenging for Buffalo, so Allen may continue to play the short game by targeting Beasley. The Bills slot receiver should offer a high floor with some intriguing upside this week.
Cooks was already a good play before Will Fuller was suspended as his target share was pretty healthy from week to week, and owners aren’t likely to bench him. However, there are a few things to consider that should give some pause about expecting a big day from him. A cold Sunday in Chicago can stymie offensive production, but the weather shouldn’t be as much of a concern as the Bears defense. Chicago has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and let’s not forget the wild card that is Keke Coutee. His eight-catch, 141-yard performance last week filling in for Fuller may be an outlier, but if he continues to get looks, that can also take away from Cooks production.
Eric Ebron (Steelers) vs. Buffalo Bills (Week 14 position rank: 9th)
The veteran tight end has gone from being strictly touchdown dependent to suddenly being relevant without having to find the end zone. That’s one of the benefits of playing on an offense that throws the ball the second most in the league. Ebron has had 11 targets in each of the last two games, and now he faces a Bills defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. In a game script that should feature a nice back and forth game on the Sunday night stage, it never hurts to stock up on pass catchers.
Dallas Goedert (Week 14 position rank: 12th)
The league’s best backup tight end has had opportunities in the driver seat and he hasn’t disappointed. Goedert has finished as the top four tight end or better in two of the last three weeks. While he very well could keep things rolling, he faces a Saints defense that has allowed the second-fewest yards in the league. Even worse, the quarterback switch to Jalen Hurts brings about a lot of uncertainty of how the Eagles offense is going to look. Targets could be in jeopardy, especially those of the red zone nature as mobile quarterbacks are threats to steal them.
Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos (Week 14 position rank: 4th)
Obviously, following around the Denver offense is a winning strategy as the Broncos allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. If you planned ahead and stashed the Panthers defense, well done. While the Broncos matchup may be why you bought the ticket, this Carolina defense has suddenly become pretty darn good as they have finished as a top three defense or better in each of the past two weeks. Don’t be surprised if they do it again this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Buffalo Bills (Week 14 position rank: 10th)
The Steelers have the best fantasy defense up to this point in the season. Prior to last week, they were coming off five straight top eight finishes. Pittsburgh is now coming off their worst defensive finish of the year in their let down game against Washington, but things won’t get any easier against Buffalo on Sunday night. The Bills have allowed the fifth-fewest points to opposing fantasy defense, and this game script might not be so defense friendly.