Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).
Good luck with your Week 14 lineups.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
Start: Marvin Jones, Alexander Mattison
Jones recorded four touchdown catches when he faced the Vikings earlier this season, but he’s curiously outside the top-30 WRs according to ECR this week. Minnesota has been gashed for the most fantasy points to outside receivers this season (and over the last month), and David Blough looks competent enough, so Jones is a strong start to open the fantasy playoffs.
Dalvin Cook promises he’ll be good to go, but even so, he’ll be playing at less than 100 percent with an injury that helped cause a fumble during his last carry before he exited last week’s game for good, and Minnesota shouldn’t push him while entering as 13-point home favorites. Mattison is a gamble with a low floor, but he’s also a flex play with a bunch of upside against a Lions rush defense that’s allowed an NFL-high 19 touchdowns to RBs this season (next highest is 13). Mattison ranks top-10 in YPC after contact (just ahead of Alvin Kamara) and would be a top-three start this week if Cook were inactive.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Start: Patrick Laird, Robby Anderson
Laird isn’t the long-term answer at running back for Miami, but he’s atop the team’s depth chart right now with Kalen Ballage going on IR. The YPC might not be great against a strong Jets run defense (although Jamal Adams will likely be out), but Laird should see good volume, especially as a receiver (he’s recorded 4+ catches in two of the last three games in very limited work). A lead back who’s the favorite for goal-line work and should be plenty active in the passing game, Laird is tough to pass up in DFS at his price ($11).
Anderson is coming off seeing a season-high 10 targets, and he gets a Dolphins defense that’s ceded the most fantasy points to his primary side over the last month.
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills
Sit: Marquise Brown, Josh Allen
Brown is boom-or-bust having not seen more than seven targets in a game since Week 2, and he’ll have an especially tough matchup Sunday while likely shadowed by Tre’Davious White.
Allen’s rushing usually gives him one of the safest floors, but he gets a Baltimore defense that’s been next-level stingy against fantasy QBs over the last five games. Allen is barely a top-25 QB on my board during the opening week of the fantasy playoffs, when he could also be dealing with winds at 15-20 mph.
Washington Redskins @ Green Bay Packers
Start: Derrius Guice
Start in DFS: Aaron Jones ($30)
Guice isn’t without risk as part of a committee on a team that enters nearly two-touchdown underdogs, but he’s proving to be a special back now that he’s finally healthy, and he gets a Green Bay run defense that ranks 28th in DVOA.
Jones’ expected TD regression has hit with him scoreless over the last two games, but he returns home with the Packers as big favorites and with an advantage up front. Moreover, Jamaal Williams was a late-week addition to the injury report, so what already looked like a smash spot could be even better with a possibly increased workload. Either way, Jones is a borderline top-five RB this week and worth paying up for in DFS.
Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans
Start in DFS: Phillip Lindsay ($18)
Start: Will Fuller
While his production may not show it, Lindsay has separated himself as Denver’s clear lead back since the team’s bye (including 20 touches last week), and he quietly has one of the best matchups for fantasy running backs over the last five games.
Fuller is always a risk and even more so while playing through a sore hamstring, but he’s also a threat to finish as the WR1 any given week, which is especially true Sunday when Chris Harris will be shadowing DeAndre Hopkins. Expect Fuller to be busy against a Denver secondary that’s been burned for the third-most fantasy points to his primary side over the last month.
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints
Start in DFS: George Kittle ($25)
Sit: Latavius Murray
The 49ers have a tough backfield to decipher for fantasy purposes, and Kittle (who leads tight ends in yards per route run by a mile this season) should be much busier coming off his quietest game of the season in tough conditions. Tight end is especially thin with Travis Kelce facing New England and Zach Ertz playing Monday night, so paying for Kittle in DFS makes sense in what could turn into a shootout.
Murray saw a season-low four touches last week and is tough to rely on with a healthy Alvin Kamara around in any matchup, and he gets one Sunday against an SF defense that’s been the stingiest against fantasy RBs over the last five games.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Start in DFS: Bengals Defense ($11)
Sit: Baker Mayfield
Cincinnati’s defense has played much better recently and, despite what the point spread may suggest, enters with a distinct advantage up front against a poor Cleveland offensive line. Add in Baker Mayfield playing with a banged-up hand, and the Bengals become a viable, cheap DFS bargain.
Mayfield has gotten just 6.9 YPA at home this season (and that’s with a big game against Miami), and he gets an improving Bengals secondary that’s limited fantasy production from wide receivers all year.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Start: Curtis Samuel, Devonta Freeman
Samuel ranks sixth in the NFL in air yards, and he should be busy with Greg Olsen sidelined in a game with one of this week’s highest totals (47.5 points).
Freeman saw his second-most touches (21) in a game this season last week and gets a Carolina defense that ranks seventh against the pass and last versus the rush in DVOA, providing the best fantasy matchup for RBs over the last five weeks. Treat Freeman as a borderline RB1 in Week 14.
Indianapolis Colts @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start: Zach Pascal, Buccaneers defense
Pascal saw a season-high 10 targets last week, T.Y. Hilton remains out, and Tampa Bay has allowed the most fantasy points to his primary side this season.
The Bucs’ defense is healthier and playing much better lately, and Indy’s offense enters injury-riddled. Jacoby Brissett has gotten just 5.9 YPA away from home this season.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Start in DFS: Melvin Gordon ($23)
Sit: Dede Westbrook
Gordon has averaged 21.3 touches over the last four games (only six RBs have averaged more this season), and he has a favorable matchup this week against a Jaguars run defense that ranks 31st in DVOA.
Westbrook is coming off a nice game, but he should be left on fantasy benches this week when facing a Chargers secondary that’s yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to the slot over the last month.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
Sit: KC running backs
Start: Sony Michel
With Patrick Mahomes leading an Andy Reid system, it’s a big surprise Kansas City doesn’t have a reliable fantasy back entering the playoffs, with 31-year-old LeSean McCoy (fourth-lowest elusive rating) the leader of a committee that also features Darwin Thompson and possibly Damien Williams playing through injured ribs. It’s also a tough matchup against the league’s best defense. The Chiefs could really use a difference-maker at the position to help with their Super Bowl run.
Michel has been a big disappointment this season (bottom-three in YPC after contact), ironically staying healthy yet unproductive despite rookie Damien Harris planted firmly on the bench. But he ranks fifth in the NFL in carries inside the five-yard line and gets a highly favorable setup this week against a Kansas City defense that ranks sixth against the pass but 30th versus the run in DVOA (while allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season).
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals
Start: James Washington
Sit: Kenyan Drake
Washington has averaged 104.5 yards and scored two touchdowns over the last two weeks, yet he’s seemingly still viewed as a fringe starter (his ECR is WR37 this week). His volume hasn’t been overwhelming, but Washington ranks 22nd in yards per route run this season (directly in between DeAndre Hopkins and Tyler Lockett), and he’s shown good rapport with Devlin Hodges (also a sneaky fantasy start in this matchup). The Cardinals have been annihilated by wide receivers over the previous five games, so treat Washington as a top-20 option in Week 14.
Drake should remain helpful in PPR formats, but expectations need to be held in check against a Pittsburgh defense that’s been flat-out dominant over the last 10 games and enters with arguably this week’s biggest advantage in the trenches.
Tennessee Titans @ Oakland Raiders
Start: Ryan Tannehill, Tyrell Williams
Tannehill continues to play well, and he should be able to sit in a comfortable pocket against an Oakland defense that’s allowed 8.2 YPA and 27 TD strikes this season.
Hunter Renfrow is out, and Josh Jacobs is dealing with a fractured shoulder, so Williams is going to be given a bigger responsibility this week against a Tennessee pass-funnel defense that’s ceded the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers over the last month.
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams
Start: Rashaad Penny, Tyler Higbee
Penny isn’t without risk, but he’s also an RB3 with upside to carry you through the fantasy playoffs. Last week’s five targets were hopefully a sign of more activity from him as a receiver, and Penny doesn’t need more than 12-15 touches to do serious damage (he’s averaged 7.0 YPC against tough Philadelphia and Minnesota run defenses the last two weeks).
Higbee benefitted from playing Arizona last week, but he also saw a season-high 91% of the snaps without Gerald Everett, who’ll likely remain sidelined Sunday. The Seahawks have proven vulnerable against tight ends, so treat Higbee as a top-10 option this week.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sit: Sterling Shepard
Start in DFS: Alshon Jeffery ($25)
Shepard has a strong matchup on paper against a struggling Eagles secondary, but Golden Tate and Evan Engram are expected to return Monday night, so it’s suddenly a crowded situation with Darius Slayton also emerging (and Saquon Barkley one of the more active RBs as a receiver). Moreover, Eli Manning will be making his first start since Week 2 and will be doing so with a big mismatch up front, so things could get ugly for the Giants on Monday night.
Jeffery looked fully healthy during his return last week when he saw a season-high 16 targets. He now gets DeAndre Baker and a Giants secondary that’s been gashed for the second-most fantasy points to Jeffery’s primary side this season. I have Jeffery as a top-12 wide receiver and Miles Sanders as a top-10 running back this week.