It’s time for our Week 14 Starts and Sits! Remember, we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s win your week.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Cam Newton | Carolina Panthers: Starting off this article with someone who ranked as QB9 in his two starts with his new team may not seem too bold, but after Week 12’s 5 of 21 passing with two interceptions day against the Dolphins, people might not be too eager to start Cam Newton. Remember this was the same player that produced 235 total yards and three touchdowns in his first start and looked very dynamic in this Panther’s offense. Newton had a bye week to familiarize himself more with this offense, as well as firing offensive coordinator Joe Brady to commit to more of a run game, which Newton thrives in. The same Newton who has a rushing score in each of the three games he’s played with the Panthers this season.
Newton gets to face a Falcon defense that is allowing the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season at over 21 points per game. The Falcons have also given up the 2nd-most amount of passing touchdowns (25) and the 4th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four weeks (20.6). The Falcons have also given up 29 or more rushing yards to six different quarterbacks this season and allowed three of the 25 games this season where quarterbacks have thrown four or more touchdowns. The most in the league. Newton may not be the best passer, but he has a mid-tier QB1 upside this week.
Trevor Lawerence | Jacksonville Jaguars: Putting Mr. Sunshine in the “start” section here might not be a bright idea. I’m also not here to tell you that he’s better than the other two in this section, however, he could be useful in a pinch. Lawerence has reached double-digit fantasy points only once in his last five games. He’s also thrown for over 162 yards just once over that stretch as well. What’s even more surprising? He’s thrown one measly touchdown over those five games.
Why am I putting Lawerence as a possibility here? Well, the Tennessee Titans defense as a whole this season is giving up the 3rd-most points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. Over the last four weeks, the Titans lead the NFL in most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks at nearly 22 per game. The five red-zone touchdowns allowed over that time rank 3rd-worst in the NFL. We’ve seen Lawerence perform in stretches (scored double-digit fantasy points from Weeks 4-8) and I think he could perform well in this spot against his division rival.
Taysom Hill | New Orleans Saints: Want to hear something nuts? Taysom Hill threw four interceptions last week and still scored 24.7 fantasy points. That ranked as the QB4 last week. What helps Hill most is even him completing 19 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns don’t get you excited rightfully, his 101 rushing yards do. Fantasy Football has transitioned to mostly a mobile quarterback game, and MOST of the time, the top finishers are able to do something with their legs. That was shown by Hill here.
Hill has a great matchup this week as he faces a Jets defense that’s given up at least two passing touchdowns in each of their last eight games. The same defense that allowed Minshew-mania to take place in Week 13. The Jets on the season have only given up 18.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (12th in the league), but have allowed the 8th-most fantasy points and 3rd-most touchdowns to quarterbacks over the last four weeks. We know how bad the Jets are at stopping the run (more on that later), which means Hill also plays into that narrative. Hill does have a finger injury to keep an eye on, but if he plays a complete game, he’s money in the bank as a QB1 every week.
Quarterback to Sit:
Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders: This once resurgent Raiders team that was 5-3 just a few weeks ago has gone 1-3 over their last four games. Over that time, the Raiders have faced many off-the-field incidents that have seemed to definitely contribute to this downfall. Carr has not helped the Raiders in his own right on the field as he’s thrown multiple touchdown passes only once in his last five games and has one game of 300 or more passing yards over that span. Carr wasn’t able to perform against the Washington Football Team last week that is being the most generous to opposing fantasy quarterbacks, where Carr finished at QB20 at barely over 12 fantasy points.
Carr now faces the division rival Kansas City Chiefs, whose defense has really turned it on as of late. This Chiefs defense has given up the 5th-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the last month and hasn’t allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 270 yards over their last seven games. Even if Waller returns, I think this healthy Chiefs defense will be too much for Carr to produce anything fantasy-relevant.
Running Backs to Start:
Javonte Williams | Denver Broncos: Welcome to the NFL and welcome into the hearts of many fantasy players, Javonte Williams! Williams finished as the RB1 in fantasy in Week 13, as he rushed 23 times for 102 yards while adding 6 receptions on 9 targets for 76 additional yards and a score. Many in the fantasy football world knew that if Williams could finally get 20+ touches in a game, he’d be able to produce as an RB1, and now that we saw his first game this year with more than 17 touches, we want more. Keep an eye on Melvin Gordon and how he practices this week. Williams’ value obviously takes a hit if Gordon is active and plays.
If Gordon doesn’t play, Williams might be a top-five play this week against the Detroit Lions. The Lions have given up the 4th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and 4.2 yards per carry this season. Opposing running backs against the Lions have put up at least 83 scrimmage yards against them the last five weeks and Williams is in for a smash spot if he gets the backfield to himself.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire | Kansas City Chiefs: This is someone who is normally too highly started for me to include him in this article. However, I feel he’s still being looked down upon across the fantasy football community and people don’t realize the RB2 that CEH can be the rest of the season. While Darrel Williams is still involved (62 snaps for Williams compared to 61 snaps for CEH over the last two games), we are seeing a change in how the Chiefs are using their 2020 first-round pick. Edwards-Helaire has run 30 routes over the last two weeks, which is right in line with the 31 he ran in the two games before he went on IR. However, the Chiefs talked during the bye about needing to get CEH more involved in the passing game, and in the first game since the bye, CEH recorded three catches on three targets. That might not sound like much, but it’s the most he’s had since Week 1. He also had a 25-yard screen pass that showed his ability to make defenders miss and the Chiefs to get him the ball in space.
I’m also very high on CEH because of his opponent in the Las Vegas Raiders this week. The Raiders have given up 103 yards or more to opposing running backs in three of their last five games. They also have given up the 4th-most fantasy points to the position over the last month and the 3rd-most on the season at 27.5 per game. Combine that with Mahomes’ much lower passer rating at home games this season, and I think the Chiefs run the ball a fair amount in this game and CEH is a big part of it.
Running Back to Sit:
James Conner | Arizona Cardinals: I get the appeal of playing Conner here. Conner has scored in nine of his last 10 games and scored 14 total touchdowns over that time. He’s also coming off of a 111 total yardage game with a score against the Bears. While Conner could still score touchdowns, Chase Edmonds is expected to come off IR and return to the team as of this writing. Conner was only averaging 12.3 touches per game and 1.6 targets per game with Edmonds, compared to 21.8 touches per game and 4.25 targets per game without Edmonds. Conner’s volume is going to come down, which makes him seem more touchdown-dependent again.
What’s worse is the Cardinals face a Rams defense that ranks second in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (3.8) and only given up one rushing touchdown over the last three weeks. They’ve also only given up seven rushing scores total on the season, which ranks tied 4th-worst in football. The Rams are giving up only 15 fantasy points per game to running backs over the last four weeks, so you should look for your starter elsewhere.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Elijah Moore | New York Jets: No matter who’s been throwing the ball, C has continued to produce. Moore was able to catch 6 of 12 targets Sunday for 77 yards and a touchdown. Those 20.6 PPR points ranked Moore as WR9 for Week 13 and Moore is the WR2 since Week 9. Moore has seen a whopping 45 targets over the last fives games (9 per game) and has ranked in the top five in terms of overall targets among receivers in two of the last three weeks.
The Jets will host the New Orleans Saints at home, who do not let you run the ball. They give up the fewest fantasy points per game to the position and will force the Jets to have to throw. Conversely, New Orleans allows the 6th-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers and struggle against slot receivers. Added in that Corey Davis is done for the year, there’s even more appeal to looking to Moore as a top-20 wide receiver going forward.
K.J. Osborn | Minnesota Vikings: We’ve seen Osborn flash earlier this season as he had 12 receptions for 167 yards and a touchdown in the first two games this season. With Adam Thielen’s high ankle sprain, all of a sudden, a 22.8% target share and 30.1% air yards share have now opened up and Osborn could be the main beneficiary. Osborn was on the field for 70 of a possible 76 snaps and ran 44 routes in Week 13. That was more total snaps and only two routes less than Jefferson.
Osborn faces the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, who have given up the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season at over 36 a game. The Steelers have also given up 48 receptions to wide receivers over the last four weeks, which ranks just outside the top 10. In a game I expect to score a lot of points, Osborn could be a great WR3/flex play.
Russell Gage | Atlanta Falcons: It’s been a nice stretch for Gage as of late, as he’s received at least eight targets in three of his last five games, with two of those double-digits. Gage is also coming off of his best game of the season with 11 receptions on 12 targets for 130 yards against the Buccaneers in Week 13. The new number one wide receiver for the Falcons has put up 9.9 fantasy points or more in five of his last six games and been an incredible flex play over that stretch.
Gage faces a Panthers’ defense that has given up over 34 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the last four weeks and given up four touchdowns to wide receivers over their last two games. A great spot for Gage here.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Brandin Cooks | Houston Texans: We spoke about targets for Elijah Moore and Russell Gage to kick off their summaries, let’s do Cooks as well. Cooks saw 13 targets in Week 9 but since has seen 14 targets over his last three games combined. He’s the WR38 over that stretch. Not good. Even worse is that he hasn’t topped more than 45 yards receiving or 13.8 fantasy points over that stretch. Whether it’s Davis Mills or Tyrod Taylor under center, I don’t want any part of Cooks this week.
Cooks also goes against the Seahawks, who haven’t given up a touchdown to a wide receiver in five games and have only allowed one since Week 5. The Seahawks in total have given up the 7th-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the last four weeks and are not a great matchup with how much better their defense has been playing. Bench Cooks this week.
Tight End to Start:
Tyler Conklin| Minnesota Vikings: Raise your hand if you’re starting Tyler Conklin over Kyle Pitts this week? I certainly am and am not too worried about it. Conklin was involved more than he had been all season in Week 13, where he secured seven catches on nine targets for 56 yards. One stat you won’t see is he nearly had a touchdown catch as well but couldn’t keep his feet in. Those nine targets were the most he had received all season, and his seven catches were tied for the most he had in a game in 2021. The increased volume seems to of course be because of no Adam Thielen, who went down with a high-ankle sprain in this game. As said above for Osborn, Thielen entered Week 13 tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns and those throws have to be distributed elsewhere.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t represent the best matchup on paper (Only 10.7 fantasy points per game allowed to opposing tight ends and one receiving touchdown allowed), the Steelers are in the middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed and red zone targets allowed to the tight end over the last four weeks. I think Conklin could be a good play here where many might avoid him.
Tight End to Sit:
Gerald Everett | Seattle Seahawks: I’m sure last week is a week that Gerald Everett would like to forget. He played a huge role in all three of Seattle’s turnovers, where he fumbled the ball and lost it twice, while also having a Wilson TD throw bounce off his chest and foot, then into the arms of a 49ers cornerback. Everett has been involved more than many thought this season, with nearly a 13% target share and 11% red-zone target share.
However, after this game and what seemed like Wilson seemingly getting back to cooking, I think Metcalf and Lockett are in for many big games down the stretch here. That will coincide with Everett being more phased out and should not be in your starting lineups.