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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 14

Welcome to round one of the NFL fantasy playoffs. If you were lucky enough to make it this far, congrats to you and your team. If you had bad luck and just missed out, better luck next year. This week I wanted to do something special for my readers. Since this is a very important week and playoffs are stressful, I had two outside sources help with the players. That way you get three minds rolled into one and hopefully we can help you advance into the next round. Enough chit-chat, let’s get started.
***Obvious players like Tom Brady, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce and other players of that caliber will not be featured in these columns***

Play Em’

Quarterback

-Matthew Stafford at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Ravens held the Lions in check for most of the game last Sunday. Matthew Stafford also came out of the game with a right hand injury. For those who aren’t 100% sure, yes that’s his throwing hand. Early indications and a negative x-ray say he’s fine and will play this week. Despite the injury, Stafford should be a high ceiling player this week. It wouldn’t be the first time Stafford has played through an injury and was still able to manage playing at a high level. This week is a favorable match up against the Buccaneers who give up an average of 17 points per game to opposing quarterbacks.

-Kirk Cousins at Los Angeles Chargers

  • Wow did Kirk Cousins put up a stinker against the Cowboys last week on Thursday night football. Guess for future reference it’s a safe bet not to play Cousins on anymore prime-time games. Fortunately for the Redskins and fantasy owners this week’s game is not playing on prime-time. Kirk Cousins has played good football against some stout defenses and the Chargers are as hot as anyone right now. I personally like Kirk Cousins to rebound this week as far as fantasy points go.

-Derek Carr at Kansas City Chiefs

  • Does anyone else remember the first game between the Raiders and Chiefs? Holy wow! Can you say points galore? Derek Carr had 40+ points in fantasy alone. Now I don’t expect him to reach that high of a total twice against this team in the same season, but I can see him getting a solid 20+ points this week with Michael Crabtree coming back from suspension and Amari Cooper hopefully back from injury. The Chiefs are spiraling down a dark path of no return after their 5-0 start. They’ve lost 6 of their last 7. The Raiders are no juggernaut this season, but they’re playing their best ball of the season right now and should be the next team to take advantage of a ‘bad’ Chiefs squad.

-Dak Prescott at New York Giants

  • Alright, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys put a beating on the Redskins last week. This week they’ll get the Giants who have literally given up on their season (They benched Eli for goodness sake!). The game script is going to allow the Cowboys to play the type of offensive game they want and it’ll put Prescott back into fantasy relevance the first week of playoffs. I know it might be tough to trust Prescott with your fantasy playoff on the line, but the Giants are playing for nothing and are without some of their defensive stars. If you drafted Dak Prescott as your QB1 this year you should get at least one more good game from him in fantasy.

Running Back

-Lamar Miller v. San Francisco 49ers

  • Let’s be honest, Lamar Miller has been a disappointing running back in fantasy depending on where you drafted him. However, this week he faces a team that allows 20+ points to running backs. Tom Savage is no Deshaun Watson, so the Texans need to rely on the running game more. With Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm for the 49ers now, they’ll actually be a better team the remaining year. Miller has had 10+ PPR points in the last 3 games and I expect him having his best game during that stretch this week.

-LeSean McCoy v. Indianapolis Colts

  • If you’re a LeSean McCoy owner you’ve probably been somewhat disappointed in his performances as of late. Well, happy fantasy playoffs to you because he plays the Colts this week, who give up 20+ points to opposing running backs. The status of Tyrod Taylor is unknown regarding this game as of right now, but if it hampers his availability for the game rookie Nathan Peterman will be forced to play once again. We all know how that happened the last time. If that is the case, it could be a blessing in disguise as it should give McCoy a huge workload. Either way I see the Buffalo Bills winning this game big and keeping pace with the rest of the AFC wild card contenders and it’ll be because of a big game from McCoy.

-Devonta Freeman v. New Orleans Saints (Thursday Night)

  • Last week against the Vikings was Freeman’s first game action in the past 2 games. He was held out of the previous two contests for being the in concussion protocol. Freeman had a decent game, but I feel like the team was easing him into things as he had 13 touches compared to Tevin Coleman’s 11. Especially since the Falcons next game is on a short week against a divisional opponent. I expect Freeman to go back to a full workload this week and get back into fantasy dominance.

-Dion Lewis at Miami Dolphins (Monday Night)

  • Every year the Patriots back field is a headache to deal with. At first it was Mike Gillislee, and then was Rex Burkhead at times with a splash of James White. Well, one thing is for sure, Dion Lewis is the back to own from the backfield. He has 9+ points in 9 straight games in PPR formats. The Dolphins defense looked dominate last week against the Broncos, but again it was the Broncos offensive unit they played. Lewis gets enough volume of touches to be considered a strong option each week and with his involvement in the passing game raises his ceiling even more.

Wide Receiver

-Dez Bryant at New York Giants

  • Janoris Jenkins is out for the year with an injury. That makes things easier for Dez Bryant. With the Zeke Elliott suspension still looming, Bryant has had to be the star of the team and help Prescott out of some situations. With the lack of play-makers in the Giants secondary and the debacle of the whole Eli Manning situation, they might have a hard time covering the pro-bowl receiver this week. Continue to keep the X-factor in your lineup.

-Larry Fitzgerald v. Tennessee Titans

  • The Titans once again let a #1 receiver have a big day. Sure the Cardinals aren’t scary per say, but Larry Fitzgerald is really the only threat the Cardinals have going for them right now. Blaine Gabbert is playing better than what his numbers indicate. Fitzgerald has been inconsistent this season, but this is a game where he should explode for a big statistical game. I’m starting him and you should too.

-Jarvis Landry v. New England Patriots (Monday Night)

  • Adam Thielen had 4 receptions in last week’s contest. Why is relevant? Well because that means Jarvis Landry is the only receiver to have at least 5 receptions in every game this season. As long as the Dolphins remain behind in games and don’t blow out teams down the stretch, Landry will remain a solid fantasy option. In the last game between the two teams Landry racked up 70 yards on 8 receptions. Cutler favors his speedy slot receiver and I don’t see things changing much from a fantasy outlook regarding Landry’s numbers. PPR formats should expect another solid performance.

-Jordy Nelson at Cleveland Browns

  • Break-out game for Jordy Nelson! Calling it right here, right now. Aaron Rodgers is expected to return next week and his usual top option is going to get hot at the right time for a last attempt for a playoff push. Call me crazy, but I do like Jordy Nelson for double digit points in PPR leagues since week 6. Week 6 just so happens to be the week Aaron Rodgers was injured. Might be hard to trust the Packers wide out after being a huge anchor for your team over the last couple of months, but I feel this is the week he’ll connect with Brett Hundley.

Tight End

-Jason Witten at New York Giants

  • The Giants have been somewhat good against starting tight ends in the last couple of weeks, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Giants have given up the most amount of points to opposing tight ends. Jason Witten is still involved in the Cowboys’ offense and should get work this week. If you believe in trends Witten’s last five games go as followed: 1 catch, 7 catches, 1 catch, 7 catches then 1 catch again. If the trend continues, Witten should get 7 catches in this game which looking at the matchup is very possible. I like old reliable in this match up.

-Hunter Henry v. Washington Redskins

  • The Chargers young tight end has 75+ receiving yards in back-to-back games. This week he’ll get a team allowing the 4th most amount of points to tight ends. The Chargers are clicking right now and they could have a few hiccups in this one. Keenan Allen should be shadowed by Josh Norman all game long, so that’ll open up some targets to Henry. I like his chances of a double digit point total in all leagues this week.

-Cameron Brate v. Detroit Lions

  • Jameis Winston made Cameron Brate great again! Brate was going through a real drought during his absence and even while he was playing through an injury. However, now that Winston is heathy he’s getting his big bodied play-maker the ball again. I like Brate to have back-to-back double digits games.

-Ricky Seals-Jones v. Tennessee Titans

  • This is a bit of a sleeper pick, but Seals-Jones has been the best tight end for the Cardinals the past 3 games. He’s had at least 44 yards in during that span and has 3 touchdowns as well. With an offense that really just has Larry Fitzgerald in the passing game someone needed to step up and that’s been this guy right here. This might be more of a sleeper pick for the week, but its playoffs and there are injuries and suspensions. Give him a shot if you need a quick play.

Defense

-Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night)

  • The Ravens are winning because of their defense. The Ravens offense is still lacking and this game could be a 17-14 type of game. Which would be good for either defense fantasy wise. I just think the Steelers will be able to stop the Ravens offense more easily than the Ravens will stop the Steelers. Add in that the Steelers have been money on prime-time this season. Like their chances this week.

-Cincinnati Bengals v. Chicago Bears

  • The Bears just cannot get any offensive rhythm going. The Bengals have a decent defense as well. Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t shown anything as to why defenses should fear him quite yet. Stop the run and you stop the Bears. The Bengals can do this and will create havoc for the young rookie. You’re starting the Bengals defense this week.

-Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Seahawks match up quite well against the Jaguars. They can stop the run and force them to be one dimensional. Sure the Legion of Boom is not all there, but the pressure the front 7 brings each down it’s like it doesn’t even matter. The game-plan is easy for the Seahawks. Make Blake Bortles beat you with his arm. If they can do that, they’ll not only win the game, but get many turnovers. You’re starting one of the hottest teams’ defense this week.

-Buffalo Bills v. Indianapolis Colts

  • The Bills defense isn’t playing at the high level they started the season off with. However, what better team to get back on track against than the Colts. The Bills should be able to dominate the trenches and put force on Jacoby Brissett. The Bills are still in the playoff hunt and need to start accumulating a win streak. They’ll get a win this week and get their rematch with the Patriots the following week. They’ll be a good start this week.

Bench Em’

Quarterback

-Jared Goff v. Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Eagles are coming off a frustrating loss to the Seahawks. It’s not like the Eagles completely didn’t put pressure on Russell Wilson, it’s just Wilson is Houdini and makes marvelous plays. Jared Goff has had a terrific jump from year 1 to year 2, but he still struggles with pressure from within the pocket. I wouldn’t trust Goff this week with playoffs on the line.

-Marcus Mariota at Arizona Cardinals

  • Most of the players on the Titans have been inconsistent and untrustworthy to start in most formats. Marcus Mariota will have a test going on the road in a tough environment. The Titans like to run the ball, but that’s one thing the Cardinals are good at, defending the run. That’ll force Mariota to throw more and he doesn’t have any receivers to take advantage of the one on one match ups. Limit your expectations this week or bench him.

-Josh McCown at Denver Broncos

  • The Jets have been a pleasant surprise this season. Josh McCown would/should be considered for a MVP award if the Jets had a winning record and in the playoff chase. However, it seems as if their magical season is starting to lose its luster. Of course they beat the Chiefs last week, but really the Chiefs beat the Chiefs last week. Going to Denver is a tough environment despite the record. Players and coaches are playing for their jobs right now and they have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way. McCown has been hot, but he might come back down to earth this week.

-Cam Newton v. Minnesota Vikings

  • Cam Newton has been a very inconsistent player this year. Playing a top tier defense is not ideal in round one of the fantasy playoffs and Newton has struggled against tough defenses that bring the pressure this year. Its tough benching a player such as Cam’s caliber, but this could be a week were he gets less than 15 points and that isn’t very much from the quarterback position. If you can I’d bench Cam Newton and look elsewhere for a potential point scorer.

Running Back

-Leonard Fournette v. Seattle Seahawks

  • The Seahawks rush defense has been lights out this past month. Leonard Fournette also hasn’t been as dominate from a fantasy perspective. The way Russell Wilson is playing right now the Seahawks should get up early and force the Jaguars to abandon the run game. I don’t like the match up. I don’t like how the game will probably be scripted for the Jaguars. I don’t like Fournette this week.

-Carlos Hyde at Houston Texans

  • At the beginning of the year Carlos Hyde was a pretty solid running back option, but he’s gone six straight games without a touchdown. To make matters worse, Matt Breida has been out producing Hyde with fewer touches. Add in that the Texans defense is still good against the run, it doesn’t bode well for Carlos Hyde this week. The 49ers are eliminated from the playoffs and are playing for pride, next year and a top 5 draft pick. Jimmy Garoppolo could see more pass attempts this game so the team can get a better feel for their potential “franchise” quarterback of the future. I wouldn’t trust Hyde this week.

-Latavius Murray at Carolina Panthers

  • The Vikings free agent acquisition from this past off-season has double digit points in five of his last six games. He’s definitely been the best running back between him and Jerrick McKinnon. However, he hasn’t faced a defensive front like the Panthers during those six games. Murray could have a solid stat line, but I wouldn’t put your playoff game in hope that he gets a touchdown to save his point total. Bench him this week.

-DeMarco Murray at Arizona Cardinals

  • I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag regarding the Titans backfield. No? Well, let me enlighten you. It’s #FreeDerrickHenry. Yeah, that’s an encouraging sign for owners. However, it is true though. Henry has less touches and still producing better numbers than Murray. Murray has also came out and said he doesn’t care about his stats as long as the team is winning. If you own DeMarco Murray and your league still allows you to trade, see if you can pawn him off on someone else.

Wide Receiver

-Doug Baldwin at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • The Jaguars give up the least amount of point to opposing receivers. If that’s not scary enough, Jimmy Graham has emerged as Russell Wilson’s favorite target and is leaving poor Doug Baldwin behind. In the last 3 games Baldwin has 9 receptions, that’s 3 per game. Let’s say Doug Baldwin only catches three balls this Sunday, do you want to take that chance that at least one of those are a touchdown to save his point total? No, didn’t think so. Moving on.

-Michael Thomas at Atlanta Falcons (Thursday Night)

  • Desmond Trufant is expected to be back for this game a one game inactive. Trufant has been one of the best corners this season and a true “shut down” type of player. Michael Thomas has been the only wide receiver to really fear from the Saints this season. If Trufant doesn’t completely shut down Thomas this Thursday, he’ll surely keep him to a minimum stat line.

-Keenan Allen v. Washington Redskins

  • The Chargers receiver broke a record for most consecutive games with 100 yards, 10 receptions and a touchdown. Allen has been on fire the last 3 weeks, but this week he’ll get a go with Josh Norman and the tough Redskins secondary. I believe Allen can still put up a solid stat line, but don’t expect another 10/100/1 type of game from the receiver this week.

-Alshon Jeffery at Los Angeles Rams

  • The Rams have been a tough defense this year. They’ve pretty much kept in check all the top wide outs from each team. Alshon Jeffery should be no different. With Zachary Ertz potentially missing this game with a concussion, the defense can key on Jeffery more. Until the Eagles offense gets back on track and is dominating team like they did earlier in the season, Jeffery should go back to a risky play.

Tight End

-Vernon Davis/Jordan Reed at Los Angeles Chargers

  • These two players have done nothing except disappoint. Reed has been in and out with injuries while Davis failed to capitalize on great match ups. The Chargers have been tough on opposing tight ends this season and I don’t see either of the two Redskins players being much of a factor once again.

-Eric Ebron at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Ebron has had 30+ receiving yards in 3 straight games. Considering how he’s favored this season that is a good streak, but Stafford has an injured hand and the Lions could make their tight end into a sixth or potential seventh linemen to help protect their franchise quarterback. Ebron has a low ceiling week in and week out and cannot be trusted in many leagues.

-Greg Olsen v. Minnesota Vikings

  • Injuries have not been too kind to Greg Olsen this season. I know he’s only been active for 3 games, but he’s had less than 5 points in each one of those contest. If Olsen is able to play this Sunday against the Vikings that’ll be a tough match up to trust the pro bowler. I’m wary of him after being out for so long and now has to play a stout secondary. I don’t like it one bit. I’m keeping him on the bench until I see improvement from him.

-Jack Doyle at Buffalo Bills

  • The Colts have very limited play-makers on their offense right now. Jack Doyle is one those few. That doesn’t help the Colts chances of winning because the Bills are pretty good against tight ends this season. In fact they gave Travis Kelce one of his worst fantasy outings of the year. Jack Doyle is no Travis Kelce. That means you sir him this week.

Defense

-Los Angeles Rams v. Philadelphia Eagles

  • But, but, but the Seahawks just whopped the Eagles. Sure, but did you watch the tape? The Eagles easily had their worst game of the season and left many points off the board. No discredit to the Seahawks, they played marvelous in their victory. I’m just saying the Eagles will rebound this week and prove they still belong in the conversation of best team.

-Los Angeles Chargers v. Washington Redskins

  • Kirk Cousins has played well against good defenses this year. There might not be a hotter defense right now than the Chargers. The Chargers are fighting for a divisional title, while the Redskins are playing for respect. This is easily the best offense the Chargers have faced over the last month and I want to see how they do against the Redskins before I peg them as a must start from here on out.

-New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Thursday Night)

  • Everyone loves a good divisional matchup on prime-time don’t they? Especially when the stakes are high for both teams. The Falcons have been very inconsistent this year, but with all the offensive fire power they have they’ll be sure to show up in this big game. Julio Jones is coming off a 2 reception game and Devonta Freeman is finally getting healthy again. This game should be a shootout.

-Jacksonville Jaguars v. Seattle Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson is my MVP right now and for good reason. The Jaguars defense has been stout all season, but they haven’t played a player quite like Wilson yet. As long as Wilson can continue to escape the pocket and make outstanding plays down the field the Jaguars defense will give up points. To make things worse for the Jaguars defense, Wilson doesn’t turn the ball over very often. It’s been hard not to start the Jaguars this year, but this could be one game where you don’t want to risk having them in your line up.
That concludes this week’s edition of Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always, good luck in your match up(s) and I hope you win. If you ever need more help with your lineup(s) don’t hesitate to ask myself or anyone from the SFT crew. We’ll always respond to you on all of our social media pages. Also don’t forget to like and share us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, as well as connecting with us on LinkedIn. Until next time, have a great day!
P.S.: I also want to give a special thanks to the two people that helped with this weeks’ article. They helped put in a lot of effort and time into it and I truly appreciate them. I wanted to do something extra for all the loyal fans and they make this possible. Thank you both!
Austin Thomas

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