NFL Starts/Sits: Week 14
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Welcome to week 14 of Locked-In Football’s start/sits. If you’re here it likely means you’ve made the fantasy playoffs – congrats! But there is still a lot of football separating you from a year of bragging rights.
Week 13 was one of our most accurate picking starts/sits, with 17 winners and 7 losers. As we move to week 14 and NFL teams are making necessary adjustments for their playoff runs, you should be too. By this point in the season, metrics like season-long Strength of Schedule that take into account all 13 weeks of past action are much less predictive. Recent trends can oftentimes tell you more about an upcoming matchup – have defenses figured out a particular offensive scheme? Have injuries caught up to a certain position group? As we look at this week’s matchups, you’ll notice we are analyzing situations more and more based on the past 3-5 weeks, to get a more accurate picture of how players are performing at this point in the season. Best of luck with your playoff matchups this week.
Win/loss methodology: I look at fantasy finishes for all my previous week’s picks, including honorable mentions, to assess which players were start-worthy or not. In other words, if they finish within QB12, RB30, WR30 or TE12 (accounting for a RB/WR flex spot). On average for half-PPR scoring, that means the following:
START: Kirk Cousins, Vikings
Kirk Cousins has been a pleasant surprise in fantasy this year. Despite being the 22nd QB off the board in drafts this August, Cousins comes into the week as the QB13 on the season. He’s been red hot as of late, topping 21.4 fantasy points in each of this last three games. He also averages the third post fantasy points per pass attempt (behind only Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes), meaning even when heavily volume isn’t there, he’s still delivering.
Cousins gets the Buccaneers in Tampa this week. The Buccs defense has softened as of late, allowing 20 or more fantasy points to opposing QBs in five of their last six games (the second-most points allowed to the position over that span). The Buccs and their 2nd toughest defense against fantasy RBs will do their best to slow down Dalvin Cook, which should leave room for Cousins to take advantage through the air.
Honorable mentions: Ryan Tannehill (at Jaguars), Ben Roethlisberger (at Bills)
SIT: Kyler Murray, Cardinals
Murray has been a fantasy star in his second season. He is currently the QB2 on the year, largely due to his impressive running totals (665 rush yards, 10 rushing TDs). Those rushing numbers have slowed as of late though – before week 11, Murray averaged 75.5 rushing yards/game, but in his last three games, that average has dropped to 20.3 rushing yards/game. That dip in production on the ground has resulted in Murray’s three worst fantasy performances occurring all in the last three weeks.
I expect that decline to continue this week against the Giants, who have been sneaky good against QBs in recent weeks – since Week 10, the Giants have only been giving up an average of 11.3 fantasy points to opposing QBs, tied with the Steelers for the 2nd fewest fantasy points allowed to the position over that span. While it’s difficult to bench Murray in any matchup based on his upside, I would temper expectations in this one.
Honorable mentions: Matt Ryan (at Chargers), Matthew Stafford (vs. Packers)
START: Wayne Gallman, Giants
Gallman has been on fire for the Giants, finishing as a top 18 RB in all of his six games as the team’s lead ball carrier this season. New York’s offensive line has seen a drastic improvement in run blocking as the season has worn on, currently allowing their RBs the fourth-most yards before contact in the NFL.
Gallman gets a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals this week, who rank as the 11th best matchup for fantasy RBs on the season and have allowed the 7th most points to RBs since week 11. It looks like Daniel Jones’ hamstring has healed enough for the Giants to have him back in this one, although his mobility will be limited. Look for the Giants to establish the run early to set up the play-action passing game and keep Jones in game-manager mode. Start Gallman with confidence.
Honorable mentions: David Montgomery (vs. Texans), Mike Davis (vs. Broncos)
SIT: Miles Sanders, Eagles
After a hot start to the year, Sanders has disappointed fantasy managers in recent weeks, failing to top 8 fantasy points in any of his last three games. His usage has been troubling, averaging only 10.7 carries and 1.7 catch over that span, resulting in RB34, RB40 and RB42 finishes in half-PPR scoring.
Sanders has a nightmare matchup with the Saints this week, who have been averaging 10.0 fantasy points to opposing RBs since week 10 – the lowest mark in the league. With Jalen Hurts under center for the Eagles, there is too much uncertainty to trust Sanders. Stay away from him this week.
Honorable mentions: Kareem Hunt (vs. Ravens), Zack Moss (vs. Steelers)
START: Jarvis Landry, Browns
Landry was our headlining WR start of the week last week and he delivered, with 8 catches, 62 yards, one TD and 16.4 half-PPR points against the Titans. He has reached 11 targets in three of his last five games (the other two games being heavily affected by wind and rain in Cleveland). He also has a 37% target share over the last two games, proving that the Browns passing game runs through him with OBJ out.
We’re coming right back to Landry as a locked-in start against the Ravens this week. Although Baltimore is the 3rd toughest matchup for fantasy WRs on the season, their defense has been vulnerable as of late, allowing a top-10 fantasy WR in three straight games. With injuries all over their secondary, the Ravens have shown they can be beaten through the air. In a divisional matchup with big playoff implications, I’d expect the Browns to try to do just that, with Landry leading the way.
Honorable mentions: Robby Anderson (vs. Broncos), Brandon Aiyuk (vs. Washington)
SIT: Devante Parker, Dolphins
Parker has been frustratingly inconsistent in the second half of this season, although those struggles can be attributed more to the Miami QB situation than his own performance. With Tua Tagovailoa under center, passing volume hasn’t been there for the Dolphins – he’s only topped 28 attempts once in his five starts.
The good news for Parker is that he’s accounted for more than half of Miami’s WR fantasy points over the last three weeks. The bad news is WR points will be tough to come by against the Chiefs this week. Of the offensive fantasy production they have given up this year, they allow the second-lowest proportion of those points to the WR position. They have also only allowed 7.4 yards per target against them, ranking as the third-lowest mark in the NFL. There likely won’t be enough passing volume to make Parker a reliable play this week.
Honorable mentions: Christian Kirk (at Giants), JuJu Smith-Schuster (at Bills)
START: Noah Fant, Broncos
It’s been a relatively disappointing season for Fant, who hasn’t had a top-10 TE finish in a week since week 2. He is however 10th among TEs in targets on the year, including at least 5 targets in three of his last four (the outlier being the wacky 0 QB, 1 completion week 12 game). He also leads the Broncos in receptions this year, and they’re likely to continue looking his way this week against the Panthers.
Carolina ranks as the 11th best matchup for opposing fantasy TEs on the season and the 5th best since week 10, allowing an average of 18.1 fantasy points to the position over that span according to FantasyPoints.com. Start Fant with confidence this week.
Honorable mentions: Hunter Henry (vs. Falcons), Jordan Akins (at Bears)
SIT: Dallas Goedert, Eagles
The Eagles are turning to Jalen Hurts to provide a spark at QB this week, and who could blame them? They have lost four straight, and their offense has looked particularly ugly in the second half of the season, averaging 16.4 points scored per game over their last five. Goedert has performed for fantasy managers despite the offensive struggles, scoring at least 9.1 half-PPR points in three of those last five games (good enough for 4th amongst TEs over that span).
The Eagles get the Saints this week however, and while they rank as only the 11th toughest matchup for TEs over the full season, they have been particularly stingy against TEs as of late, allowing only 4.6 points to the position over the last four weeks – by far the lowest in the NFL. Goedert has benefitted from an offense that has thrown the ball 10th most in the league so far, but I’d expect a much lower passing volume in the first start of Hurts’ career. That will make Goedert a very risky play this week.
Honorable mentions: Jordan Reed (vs. Washington), Austin Hooper (vs. Ravens)