Fantasy Football: Week 14 Start ‘Em

Nate Weitzer pinpoints some players you should consider starting in the first week of the Fantasy Football postseason!

Vance McDonald
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

In seasonal fantasy football, matchups often boil down to which owner makes the right start/sit decisions. You can’t hold allegiances to projections or name recognition, you simply have to play the guys you think will wind up with the most fantasy points.

Here are the fringe options that might should be in your fantasy lineup in Week 14.

QB Dak Prescott vs. PHI

The Cowboys are rolling right now and should have advantages all over the field against the banged-up Eagles defense. With three members of their secondary already on I.R. the Eagles could be without CBs Avonte Maddox (knee) and Jalen Mills (foot) in a second straight game. That didn’t cost them much against Washington’s weak passing attack, but with Amari Cooper in the fold, the Cowboys are fully capable of exploiting weaknesses on the back end. Philly will have to roll more coverage towards the back end to help that injury-depleted secondary, allowing Prescott to continue running at an impressive pace for a QB.

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RB LeGarrette Blount @ ARI

Kerryon Johnson (knee) has yet to return to practice and the Lions have no need to risk their stud rookie RB towards the end of a lost season. That leaves LeGarrette Blount, a favorite of ex-Patriots coach Matt Patricia, to carry the mail in another good matchup. Arizona ranks 21st in DVOA rush defense and has been victimized by game flow while allowing a league-high 15 rushing TDs this season. Blount’s value is obviously greatest when he has scoring opportunities and they should be ample this Sunday with Arizona missing their best LB in Josh Bynes.

RB Justin Jackson @ CIN

Owners in deep leagues may be forced to scour the waiver wire for a start at RB this week. They could do a lot worse than Justin Jackson against a horrendous Bengals run defense. Arizona is the only team to yield more rushing TDs than Cincy (13) this year and the Bengals rank 28th in rush defense while yielding over 5 yards per carry. Jackson ripped off 63 yards on just eight carries in a very touch matchup at Pittsburgh Sunday night and will earn more playing time going forward. Melvin Gordon (knee) is very unlikely to play despite gamesmanship from the coaches and Austin Ekeler (ankle) has been limited this week. Regardless, Ekeler is more of a third-down back and Jackson should get any opportunities on the goal line.

WR Curtis Samuel @ CLE

By now D.J. Moore has become an obvious every-week start, and Curtis Samuel is quickly joining the rookie in that territory. A second-year WR with a versatile skill set, Samuel drew a team-high 11 targets last week. He should see high volume going forward with Greg Olsen (foot) out, Devin Funchess (back) limited, and Christian McCaffrey likely drawing double teams as the focal point of Carolina’s attack. Samuel’s been used as a runner and receiver all year and draws a good matchup against Cleveland’s banged-up secondary.

WR Dante Pettis vs. DEN

Even with Marquise Goodwin (personal) set to return and Pierre Garcon (knee) potentially able to play this Sunday, the 49ers should stick with Dante Pettis as a full time player. He’s caught 9-of-14 targets for 206 yards and 3 TD s with both players out over the last two weeks and is clearly emerging as a favored target for rookie QB Nick Mullens. The Broncos defense is far more vulnerable on the road and will be without elite CB Chris Harris (leg), while LCB Tramaine Brock (ribs) is also questionable and RCB Bradley Roby is struggling. This isn’t a matchup to fear with the Niners playing at home in warm conditions.

TE Vance McDonald @ OAK

Perhaps you weren’t lucky enough to snag Jaylen Samuels off waivers and use him as a TE in Yahoo! Leagues. But you can still play the Steelers actually TE in a fantastic matchup. Oakland gives up the most FPPG to opposing TEs this season and the Raiders should check out while tanking for the No. 1 overall pick this year. McDonald remains involved in Pittsburgh’s pass-first offense and could see more looks if Barry Switzer (concussion) is out. Either way, he’s clearly surpassed Jesse James as Pittsburgh’s top TE with snap counts of 52 (80%), 33 (42.3%), and 44 (64.7%) over his last three appearances.

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