QB: Matt Schaub at NE – Although Matt Schaub has proven to be a solid NFL starter, he’s just 14th in quarterback scoring because of the Texans’ run-heavy offense. With the Texans facing the Patriots, this is one of the few times that we have reason to believe the Texans will be forced to pass the football. The Patriots are a solid 9th against the run and a pathetic 29th against the pass. For once, expect the Texans to be more successful passing the football than running the football.
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw vs. NO – Despite his consistent inconsistency and missed practices, Ahmad Bradshaw faces the dysfunctional Saints defense this week. Coming in 32nd against the run, the Saints are the only team that has allowed over 5 yards per carry to opposing rushers this season. They’re also allowing an alarming 153.8 rushing yards per game. On pace to allow an insane 2,461 rushing yards this season, any starting running back is a good play against the Saints – never mind Bradshaw running behind the Giants’ solid offensive line.
Knowshon Moreno at OAK – Speaking of good matchups, Knowshon Moreno draws the Raiders’ 28th ranked run defense. Other good news for Moreno owners is the Raiders have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns, tied for 2nd most in the league. They’re also allowing the 3rd most points to opposing running backs, behind just the Saints and the Jaguars. Receiving 24 touches in each of his first two games, Moreno isn’t the most explosive player but runs hard and will have plenty of space to run against a defense that will have most of its attention on Peyton Manning.
Vick Ballard vs. TEN – Vick Ballard isn’t my kind of running back, he’s what us fantasy writers would call a plodder. He’ll get what’s blocker and isn’t going to make many people miss in the open field. That said, with Donald Brown out he’ll monopolize on the Colts’ running back touches. In the last two games that Donald Brown has missed, Ballard received an average of 20 touches. That’s a reasonable expectation for what he’ll receive against the Titans’ 27th ranked run defense. Allowing 29.9 points per game against, the Titans are the 5th best matchup for any running back this week.
DeAngelo Williams vs. ATL – I’m not the biggest DeAngelo Williams fan, more of a Jonathan Stewart guy myself – but this week is an interesting opportunity. Williams ran effectively per carry last week with 12 carries for 67 yards, 5.6 yards per carry. The Chiefs did a nice job of holding onto the ball last week and stopped a red-hot Cam Newton from getting many chances. Consequently the Panthers carried the ball just 22 times, opposed to their per game average of 27. With Stewart out, Williams is their most effective ball carrier. I’d expect him to see closer to 15-18 touches this week against a Falcons’ defense that is allowing the 7th most points to opposing running backs.
WR: Torrey Smith at WAS – Despite his inconsistency, Torrey Smith has shown flashes of fantasy brilliance at times this season. Ranked 17th out of all wide receivers in standard leagues, he’s proven to be a boom-or-bust WR2. So far this season, his best games have come against bad secondaries. All ranked 21st or worse against the pass, Torrey faced: NE in Week 3 for 6/127/2, CLE in Week 4 for 6/97/1, OAK in Week 10 for 2/67/2, and SD in Week 12 for 7/144. This week Torrey faces the Redskins’ 31st ranked pass defense.
Randall Cobb vs. DET – Despite his recent struggles, Randall Cobb is an elite wide receiver play. The Packers have struggled lately, with just four passing touchdowns in their last three games. Aaron Rodgers is sure to turn this around soon and Cobb looks like the ultimate beneficiary with Jordy Nelson out. In Week 11, Cobb faced the Lions and caught nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. With Starks out, the Packers will be forced to pass even more and Cobb is their No. 1 option.
Eric Decker at OAK – Another receiver who has struggled with consistency is Eric Decker. Notably taking a backseat to Demaryius Thomas, owners are struggling to trust Decker. I understand your frustration but I wouldn’t be benching Decker in such a favorable matchup. Decker faced the Raiders in Week 4 and finished with seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. He’s also the 2nd option on Peyton Manning’s 7th ranked passing offense that is likely to tear the Raiders secondary to shreds on Thursday night.
Chris Givens at BUF – Chris Givens has earned weekly consideration following his last two games: 5/115/1 @AZ and 11/92 vs. SF. Both of those games have come with Danny Amendola injured and Givens being featured in the Rams’ passing attack. This week looks no different except Givens is drawing a significantly easier matchup. Only four teams are allowing more points to opposing wide receivers than the Bills, start Givens.
TE: Kyle Rudolph vs. CHI – Flying under the radar, Kyle Rudolph has produced like a TE1 with Percy Harvin out. Averaging 6/56.7/1 over his last three games, Rudolph is locked in as Ponder’s favorite target. He led the Vikings with eight targets this week and should find space in the Bears’ Cover 2 defense that is vulnerable to tight ends.
QB: Phillip Rivers at PIT – With just one passing touchdown in his last two games, Rivers draws the worst matchup of any Week 14 quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without top corner Ike Taylor but should have little problem putting pressure on Rivers. The Chargers lost three starting offensive linemen last week and were already struggling with pass protection – don’t expect anything to change this week.
RB: Ryan Mathews at PIT – Arguably fantasy’s most disappointing player, Ryan Mathews has been awful. Concerns about his vision have surfaced and he saw a season-low nine carries last week. I do believe he’ll see more carries this week but I don’t see his efficiency improving. Mathews is the lead back on a team that is averaging just the 26th most yards per game on offense. Sadly at this point I’m willing to concede that he’s a bust. Don’t expect much production facing one of the league’s best defenses behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
Darren McFadden vs. DEN – Maybe the league’s most disappointing player before his injury, owners shouldn’t be rushing to put Darren McFadden back in their lineup. When McFadden was healthy in Week 3, he racked up a measly 38 total yards against the Broncos. Let this be a test run for owners to see if he’s trustworthy enough to start next week.
Reggie Bush at SF – Another player I wouldn’t trust is Reggie Bush. He appears to have retaken the starting job from Daniel Thomas but will have a hard time running against the 49ers 3rd ranked run defense. Allowing a measly 3.6 yards per carry with just three rushing touchdowns all season, I’d advise you to sit Bush against San Francisco.
WR: Denarius Moore vs. DEN – After teasing owners with his enormous potential, Denarius Moore has just four catches in his last three games. Benched last week for dropping passes, Moore can’t be trusted this week. Likely to see plenty of Champ Bailey, I’d keep Moore stapled to the bench.
Donnie Avery vs. TEN – Despite catching five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns, Donnie Avery can’t be trusted in fantasy leagues. Over his previous two games, Avery averaged just three catches for 32.5 yards. He’s a consistent fantasy tease and shouldn’t be trusted with Wayne hogging most of the Colts’ targets.
Mike Thomas at GB – This should be more of a test run week for Mike Thomas’ new owners. Despite Broyles’ injury early in last week’s game, Thomas saw just four targets. That’s good for 4th on the team behind Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. While it’s possible, there’s no evidence that he’ll see an increase in targets this week.
TE: Antonio Gates at PIT – I hate to add him to this list but it’s gotten to the point that owners need to bench Gates this week. He’s topped 60 yards just once this season and is facing the best pass defense in football. Due to the Chargers’ decimated offensive line, there’s also a chance that he’ll be forced to help block.
Thanks for reading! Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!