Week 14 Starts and Sits
December 11, 2015 | Chet
Jim Mora doubted in could be done, but we’ve done it. We’ve arrived at the fake football playoffs. With a full slate of games each week and a handful of potentially inactive leaguemates outside our playoff brackets, the available range of fantasy options will likely expand in the final weeks. Thus, we are presented with an age-old managerial conundrum — dance with who brought you or get cute and play the field?
Generally, our best producers are the reason we made the playoffs in the first place and I tend to default to starting players of that caliber over unproven commodities. Still, certain players come out of nowhere every season to dominate the final weeks. If you can catch and bottle those lightning bolts to compliment your still-producing studs, chances are good your team will deliver a fantasy championship.
Of course, if your perceived studs lay eggs down the stretch, even the most meteoric playoff pick-ups might not be enough to earn a league trophy. Champions often need an intuitive spidey-sense that foretells poor performances and gives the courage to bench certain players in spite of preceding fantasy success.
Thankfully, the previous 13 weeks of NFL games provide plenty of data on which to base our decisions. The Week 14 Starts and Sits aim to mine some of that data — captured in the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet linked below — and translate the findings into actionable rankings and start/sit recommendations. Let’s dive in, shall we?
- Jameis Winston vs. NO: The Saints defense is the gift that keeps on giving.
- Tyrod Taylor @ PHI: Here are Philly’s steadily declining defensive DVOA values (and ranks) since their bye: -19.9 in Week 9 (3rd), -17.2 in Week 10 (6th), -17.4 in Week 11 (2nd), -10.3 in Week 12 (6th), -3.7 in Week 13 (11th), and -4.2 in Week 14 (9th). The Eagles have allowed an average of 3.6 TD passes per game over that span.
- Blake Bortles vs. IND: Big Ben torched this Indy defense last week. Bortles isn’t on the same level as Roethlisberger, but this is still a nice match-up.
- Ryan Tannehill vs. NYG: Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’ll run it back with Tanny against another generous opponent. The Giants allow the 4th-most fantasy points to QBs.
- Blaine Gabbert @ CLE: A dart-throw for 2-QB or otherwise deep leagues. Cleveland gives up the 2nd-most overall fantasy points to players (behind only New Orleans) and the 5th-most PPG to QBs.
- Javorius Allen vs. SEA: His pass-catching ability makes his production less dependent on game flow and the Ravens should aim to shorten this game with plenty of runs and dump-offs.
- T.J. Yeldon vs. IND: Indy’s primary run stoppers are hurt, so this match-up is better than the DVOA numbers might indicate.
- Shaun Draughn @ CLE: He’s dominating snaps for San Francisco and facing a Cleveland defense that allows the 6th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
- Charcandrick West & Spencer Ware vs. SD: I still prefer West based on snap volume, but both could be top-30 RBs against San Diego’s 31st-ranked rush defense.
- Ameer Abdullah @ STL: Like Philly, the St. Louis defense is in decline. Furthermore, their offense is abysmal, which should afford the Lions better game script and more opportunity to run the ball.
- Martavis Bryant @ CIN: Start him every week. The Alien will be in my top-10 this week.
- Sammy Watkins @ PHI: See Tyrod Taylor above.
- DeVante Parker vs. NYG: See Ryan Tannehill above.
- Doug Baldwin @ BAL: As far as hot hands go, Doug Baldwin’s mitts are door-melting lightsabers right now. He should maintain value against Baltimore’s 26th-ranked pass defense.
- Allen Hurns vs. IND: See Blake Bortles above. I do fear that Julius Thomas will suppress Hurns’ value, but this match-up is good enough for both to wind up startable.
- Dorial Green-Beckham @ NYJ: A high ceiling option for deeper leagues with an improved floor because Kendall Wright is slated to sit. The Titans are big underdogs, so they should pass a good amount in this contest. I like DGB’s touchdown upside.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. NO: See Jameis Winston above.
- Will Tye @ MIA: Miami’s overall points-per-game allowed to tight ends doesn’t look great compared to other teams, but they’ve faced many teams with little-to-no threat from the TE position (NYJ twice, BAL, HOU, & JAC minus Julius Thomas). Meanwhile, Tye has averaged 6+ targets and 54+ yards over his past 4 games.
- Charles Clay @ PHI: See Tyrod Taylor above. The Eagles have allowed TE touchdowns in 2 of the past 3 weeks.
- Ben Watson @ TB: A play from the other side of Week 14’s highest Vegas total (50.5). The loss of Mark Ingram should open up more short-yardage targets for Watson.
- Kirk Cousins @ CHI: The Bears are respectable in pass defense and Cousins has struggled in road games. The sample size on that split is admittedly small, but Sunday’s nasty forecast for Chicago is a legit reason to fade Cousins and most other passing options in this game.
- Philip Rivers @ KC: Arrowhead is a tough arena, especially with the opposing Chiefs playing such inspired football of late.
- Matt Ryan @ CAR: The not-so-secret recipe to “sit” calls this year is choosing the players facing Carolina and Denver.
- Derek Carr @ DEN: See Matt Ryan immediately above.
- Sam Bradford vs. BUF: The 47-point total on this game gives me pause, but there are simply too many other QBs I trust more than Bradford on a week-to-week basis.
- DeMarco Murray vs. BUF: The match-up is great, but Murray’s usage and relationship with Chip Kelly are anything but.
- Danny Woodhead & Melvin Gordon @ KC: See Philip Rivers above. I highly prefer Woodhead to Gordon if forced to choose.
- LeGarrette Blount @ HOU: The Texans are susceptible to pass-catching running backs (24th in DVOA against RBs as receivers) and that could mean more usage for James White and/or Brandon Bolden. Blount remains a goal line threat, but he provides so little otherwise that you can probably do better.
- Antonio Andrews @ NYJ: The Jets rank 1st in DVOA against the run and have only allowed double-digit fantasy points to RBs in 4 out of 12 games this season.
- Alfred Blue vs. NE: The odds are too good that he’ll be squeezed out of Houston’s rotation by game flow.
- Amari Cooper @ DEN: See Matt Ryan and Derek Carr above.
- Davante Adams vs. DAL: Dallas ranks 9th in DVOA against #2 wide receivers.
- Kamar Aiken vs. SEA: Seattle ranks 1st in DVOA against #1 wide receivers.
- Stefon Diggs @ ARI: Teddy Bridgewater fared better than I expected on Thursday, but Diggs was predictably shut down by the staunch Arizona defense, catching only 2 of his 7 targets for 12 yards.
- Brandon LaFell @ HOU: I’ve never been a fan of LaFell and his recent ineptitude backs up the hate. Plus, the Houston defense ranks 10th in DVOA against the pass.
- Malcom Floyd @ KC: See Philip Rivers above.
- Antonio Gates @ KC: See Philip Rivers above. The Chiefs sport the best defense in the league against tight ends.
- Jacob Tamme @ CAR: See Matt Ryan above. This call might seem counter-intuitive based on the points-against numbers for TEs vs. Carolina, but the Panthers only seem to get burned by tight ends when the complimentary pass-catching options are solid (e.g., IND, GB, & NO). When the tight end acts as the #1 or #2 receiver, Carolina tends to fare a lot better (the exception being SEA in Week 6, when Jimmy Graham torched them for 140 yards).
- Kyle Rudolph @ ARI: Not a great TNF call, as Rudolph caught all 6 of his targets for 67 yards, but at least he didn’t find the end zone. Still, the process here was valid, as the Cardinals ranked 3rd in DVOA against tight ends entering this game.
- Zach Ertz vs. BUF: Buffalo’s defense ranks 5th in DVOA and gives up only 43.7 yards per game against tight ends.
Thanks for reading/watching and good luck this week.