Week 14 of the NFL season serves as the first week of fantasy football playoffs for most leagues, and should not disappoint with plenty of exciting games. The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs kickoff the week in an AFC West rivalry on Thursday night, and Week 14 includes plenty of intense rivalries including the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. Fourth & Goal has broken down which fantasy football players to start and sit in Week 14 based on matchups, injuries, and previous performances through the first 13 weeks of the 2016 season.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
Wilson did not have the big week many fantasy owners were hoping for in Week 13 with just 277 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a blowout win over the Carolina Panthers. Despite two poor straight fantasy outings for Seattle’s franchise quarterback, owners should feel confident putting him atop their lineup, especially given the team’s matchup against Green Bay in Week 14. The Packers secondary has been decimated by injuries this season, and Green Bay’s defense is surrendering the ninth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2016.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston
Tampa Bay’s second-year quarterback has not put up big fantasy numbers during the team’s current four-game win streak, but owners can expect that to change against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday. The Saints have the NFL’s second worst pass defense in terms of yards allowed, and despite injuries at the wide receiver position, Winston should be able to take advantage of New Orleans’ shaky defense in Week 14.
New York Jets RB Matt Forte
This is the week Forte fantasy owners have circled on their calendar, as the veteran running back should be poised for success against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Forte has RB1 potential this week given the matchup, and should be an immediate start despite sub-par performances the past two weeks. Forte salvaged a poor outing on Monday Night Football with three receptions for 54 yards, but should be able to find plenty of running room against the NFL’s worst rush defense. The 49ers are giving up almost 170 rushing yards per game this season, and have given up the most fantasy points to running backs heading into Week 14.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Spencer Ware
Kansas City’s versatile third-year running back should be set for a big night against the Silver and Black on Thursday Night Football, as he torched Oakland’s defense for a combined 163 yards and a touchdown back in Week 6. The Raiders defense has looked improved during their six-game win streak but are still giving up the league’s fourth most rushing yards per game. Ware should have plenty of opportunities against the Raiders in Week 14, as he has had at least 16 touches in each of the team’s last four games.
Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper
Cooper has only caught six passes for 81 yards the past two weeks, but luckily for his fantasy owners he was able to find the end zone against the Bills last Sunday. The Raiders top wide receiver should be in for a big night against Kansas City, as the Chiefs have surprisingly surrendered the most fantasy points to the wide receiver position this season. The Chiefs have given up 21 touchdown passes this season but have also recorded 14 interceptions. Fantasy owners should expect a strong outing from Cooper and should feel confident with him in the starting lineup.
New England Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell
Mitchell was already one of the hottest waiver wire additions of the week, and has continued to see an expanded role since the team lost star tight end Rob Gronkowski for the season. The Patriots rookie wide receiver recorded a career-high eight receptions on 10 targets for 82 yards in a win over the Rams this past Sunday, and should continue to see a heavy workload against the Ravens on Monday Night Football. The Ravens have surrendered 21 touchdown receptions on the year and have given up the 11th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers heading into Week 14.
Houston Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
Fiedorowicz finished Sunday’s game in Green Bay with just 44 yards in the loss, but still finished the game with a team-high six receptions. The Texans lack of an aerial threat has clearly been a cause for concern for fantasy owners all season, but with a matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14, owners should feel confident in starting Houston’s third-year tight end. The last time these two teams met back in October, Fiedorowicz recorded six receptions for 85 yards and scored one touchdown. Despite no touchdown receptions in the team’s past four games, Houston’s top tight end should remain a legitimate starting option with high value in point per reception leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate
Tampa Bay’s starting tight end recorded a career-high six receptions for 86 yards and scored his sixth touchdown of the season in the team’s win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 13, and has quickly developed into one of Winston’s favorite targets in 2016. Brate should be in line for plenty of targets against the New Orleans Saints this weekend, as the the Buccaneers are dealing with multiple injuries at the wide receiver position. The Saints have given up the 17th most fantasy points to the tight end position this season.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota
Tennessee’s second-year quarterback has been key to the franchise’s turnaround in 2016, and has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks to own this season. Mariota has thrown 11 touchdowns to two interceptions in the team’s past four games, but is too risky of a start in the playoffs, especially given the matchup. The Denver Broncos have the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense in terms of yards allowed heading into Week 14, and have surrendered the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Fantasy owners should only start Mariota if no other viable options are available, as he looks to be in for a tough day against arguably the league’s best secondary pass rush combination.
Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill laid a dud in Baltimore for fantasy owners after an impressive outing in Week 12 against the 49ers, and should remain on the bench this Sunday with an unfavorable matchup against Arizona. The Cardinals have given the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and have recorded more interceptions (11) than touchdown receptions (10) allowed. The Dolphins may be fighting for a potential wild card spot down the stretch, but that doesn’t mean fantasy owners should put their faith in Tannehill, especially during fantasy playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens RB Terrance West
West is coming off his best fantasy performance in weeks with two touchdowns and a combined 68 yards against the Dolphins in Week 13. The Ravens lead running back has seen less touches in recent weeks due to the emergence of rookie running back Kenneth Dixon, and should remain on the bench this week due to less opportunities and a tough matchup. The New England Patriots have the NFL’s 10th best rush defense in terms of yards allowed, and have given up just six rushing touchdowns all season. West is at best a filler at the flex spot in Week 14, as he should remain on the bench for Monday Night Football unless their are no other legitimate starting options.
New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings
Jennings saved fantasy owners last week with his touchdown reception but was held to a combined 53 total yards on 12 touches in the team’s loss. It won’t get easier for New York’s veteran running back, as he faces a Cowboys defense that has surrendered the third fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The Giants have used a running back committee this season and could be using three backs on Sunday Night Football, should Shane Vereen return. With rookie Paul Perkins, Jennings, and potentially Vereen all seeing snaps out of the backfield, it may be tough to start any of the Giants running backs against the Cowboys in Week 14.
Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb
It’s hard to tell from week-to-week who will be Aaron Rodgers’ top target in 2016 with players like Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and tight end Jared Cook all having hit-or-miss games in 2016. Nelson has been the most consistent fantasy option in Green Bay’s receiving corps with Adams also having a breakout season. That has surely impacted Cobb’s fantasy value this season, and if it weren’t for Cobb’s lone touchdown in Week 13 it would have been another disappointing week for fantasy owners. Cobb surely has value for owners moving forward, but given the team’s Week 14 matchup against Seattle, it would likely be wise to leave him on the bench. The Seahawks have given up the eighth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and Cobb has quickly found himself Rodgers’ third favorite target this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson
Robinson has been a major disappointment for fantasy owners this season, and cannot be trusted in Week 14, especially for playoff games. The Jaguars top receiver has caught just five passes for 55 yards with no scores in the past two games, and is too unreliable to start against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. The Vikings have the NFL’s fourth best pass defense in terms of yards allowed and have given up the league’s fifth fewest touchdown receptions (14) in 2016.
Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta
Pitta snapped his touchdown drought with two scores against the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, but that doesn’t mean he should be an immediate fantasy starter in Week 14. Pitta has not shown enough consistency to earn a starting role for fantasy owners in a crucial playoff week, and had recorded no more than 34 receiving in each of the team’s four previous games before exploding in Week 13. The Ravens tight end does not draw the most favorable matchup in New England on Monday night, as the Patriots have surrendered the 12th fewest fantasy points to the position this season. Pitta should remain on the bench in almost all leagues, and likely only has value in point per reception leagues this week.
Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen
Much like Pitta, Allen may have been a flash in the pan in Week 13. The Colts tight end recorded three touchdowns on four receptions against a poor Jets secondary, and had not scored a touchdown since early October before going off on Monday Night Football. The Colts face the NFL’s fifth best pass defense in terms of yards allowed in Week 14, and Houston’s defense has surrendered the fourth fewest fantasy points to the tight end position this season.