It’s Week 14, and the last regular season weekend in most standard formats. Hopefully your week is off to a better start than mine. I am fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in my 12-team, big-money league. I faced Denver’s Peyton Manning (26-36-310-1-1) and Knowshon Moreno (32-119-1, 4-48-0), while I had Sebastian Janikowski and Brandon Myers. The Broncos were allowing the second-most fantasy points to tight ends entering Week 14, so it figures Myers would end up with one grab for seven yards. He was used mostly as an extra blocker, as the Raiders could not contain LB Von Miller. I have the second-most points in my league, but I could be watching others battle for the trophy and money next week and beyond. I hope that you’re in much better shape. If you’re still reading this, then you’re still in contention.
Good luck in Week 14, and I hope you bring home that championship!
Quarterback – surprise start of the week
Joe Flacco, Baltimore (at WAS): Flacco is available off the waiver wire in some leagues, especially since he is coming off a marginal performance against the Steelers at home last weekend. If he is still available, however, you will want him in your lineup this weekend against the Washington Redskins, a team with the 31st-ranked pass defense in the NFL. The ‘Skins have been getting a little better against the pass as the weeks have gone on, but they are still allowing 299.0 yards per game through the air with 24 passing touchdowns. In addition, they’ve allowed 46 pass plays of 20 or more yards, and 10 for more than 40 yards per pop. Look for Flacco to get back into the 300-yard area with at least two or three passing scores.
Other surprise plays: Nick Foles, Philadelphia (at TB), Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets (at JAC), Matt Schaub, Houston (at New England, Mon.)
Quarterback – sit of the week
Philip Rivers, San Diego (at PIT): For Pittsburgh standards, especially in Denver, the weather will actually be pretty temperate. The high on Sunday is expected to be 50 degrees, but there is a 60 percent chance of showers with some potential thunder and wind. The weather shouldn’t play a huge factor, but it is something to be mindful if it gets sloppy during the game. However, facing the No. 1 passing defense in the NFL is worrisome for owners of Rivers, who hasn’t been that great or consistent anyway. The Steelers allow just 166.7 yards per game through the air, which is a whopping 22.3 yards better than any other team. They have allowed just 13 passing touchdowns in 12 games.
Other QBs to sit: Chad Henne, Jacksonville (vs. NYJ), Ryan Tannehill, Miami (at SF), Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. ARI)
Steven Jackson, St. Louis (at BUF): There will be a chill in the air, with temperatures in the high 30′s, along with a chance of a cold rain and plenty of wind. That doesn’t bode well for Sam Bradford and the passing game, especially for long downfield throws. But, it is great news for SJ39 and the Rams rushing attack, which would have been busy anyway against the NFL’s 30th ranked rushing defense. Buffalo gives up huge chunks of real estate on the ground to the tune of 139.2 yards per game, with an NFL-worst 17 rushing touchdowns allowed.
Other surprise plays: Vick Ballard, Indianapolis (vs. TEN), Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (at JAC), Chris Johnson, Tennessee (at IND)
Running back – sit of the week
Bryce Brown, Philadelphia (at TB): Brown has been putting up historic numbers in his first two NFL starts. He is the fifth NFL rookie in history to run for 165 or more yards in back-to-back games, and he is the first-ever to do it in his first two career starts. And, in the illustrious and lengthy history of the Eagles franchise, he is just the second back to go for back-to-back 160-yard performances, and the first since 1965. That being said, he will crash back to Earth in a big way Sunday. The Buccaneers rank first in the NFL against the run, allowing just 82.3 yards per game on the ground. While they have yielded nine rushing scores in 12 games, there is some potential there for Brown to have a small measure of success, but his yardage totals will be cut in half, and maybe more. Brown has also put the ball on the ground three times in the past two games.
Other RBs to sit: Reggie Bush, Miami (at San Francisco), Ryan Mathews, San Diego (at PIT), Stevan Ridley, New England (vs. HOU – Mon.)
Wide receiver – surprise start of the week
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco (vs. MIA): Crabtree has developed a nice rapport with new QB Colin Kaepernick, and that should continue into Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. Miami’s pass defense has been dinged for 257.7 yards per game through the air with 15 passing touchdowns in 12 games. Last Sunday in St. Louis, Crabtree had his first 100-yard game since Week 5, and just the fourth of his four-year NFL career. This weekend will mark the first time he has ever hit the century mark in receiving yardage in back-to-back games as a professional, and he might very well make his way into the end zone, too.
Other surprise plays: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis (vs. TEN), Torrey Smith, Baltimore (at WAS), Mike Thomas, Detroit (at GB)
Wide receiver- sit of the week
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (at SEA): Fitzgerald is having a very un-Larry-like season, as he is on pace for just 866 receiving yards and five scores. The yardage would be his lowest since 2004, his rookie season, and the touchdowns would be a career low. He will face a Seahawks pass defense which allows just 203.4 yards per game through the air. Seattle has also given up just 12 passing TDs in 12 games, while yielding only 28 pass plays of 20 or more yards, which is the fourth-best mark in the NFL. Fitzgerald has just one 100-yard game, and one score over his past five meetings with Seattle, including a rather marginal four catches for 63 yards in Week 1. QB John Skelton is back under center this week, and the continuous change under center coupled with the strong pass defense doesn’t bode well for Fitz and his fantasy owners.
Other WRs to sit: Danario Alexander, San Diego (at PIT), Brian Hartline, Miami (at SF), Julio Jones, Atlanta (at CAR)
Tight end – surprise start of the week: Martellus Bennett, N.Y. Giants (vs. NO)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Owen Daniels, Houston (at NE – Mon.), Vernon Davis, San Francisco (vs. MIA)
Sit of the week: Antonio Gates, San Diego (at PIT)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Marcedes Lewis, JAC (vs. NYJ), Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota (vs. CHI)
Kicker – surprise start of the week: Dan Bailey, Dallas (at CIN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Phil Dawson, Cleveland (vs. KC)
Sit of the week: Nick Novak, San Diego (at PIT)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Alex Henery, Philadelphia (at TB)
Defense/special teams – surprise start of the week: Browns DST (vs. KC)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Buccaneers DST (vs. PHI), Chargers DST (at PIT)
DST sit of the week: Lions DST (at GB)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Colts DST (vs. TEN), Cowboys DST (at CIN)