Below are the guys I like or dislike in week 14 compared to the other experts on FantasyPros.com. I’m focusing on guys that are actually on that start/sit bubble. There’s no need to tell you I’m higher on Ray Rice when I have him ranked #13 and the expert consensus rank (ECR) has him ranked #17. Both rankings tell you to start him.
Some of the names discussed below are Russell Wilson, Steven Jackson, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker and several others.
Russell Wilson / at San Francisco / ECR: 12 / My rank: 6
I can’t believe that my ranking of Wilson makes me the highest on him this week. I understand the hesitation of the other rankers; San Francisco is a really tough matchup. But I think we’re at the point with Wilson where he is a must start regardless of his matchup. The only other quarterbacks in that group are Peyton, Rodgers, Brees, Cam and Stafford with Foles starting to possibly enter that territory. Not coincidentally, Wilson and all those other names are all the names at the top of the yards per attempt leaderboard (with the exception of Cam). As Michael Salfino pointed out this preseason, YPA is an excellent model for QB success. If you added McCown or Foles to back up Wilson at some point, I could see benching him for one of those guys. But that’s just because those are guys are producing and have excellent matchups, not because I’m scared of Wilson.
Steven Jackson / at Green Bay / ECR: 21 / My rank: 12
Jackson is coming off back-to-back solid performances with 39 carries, 147 yards, three touchdowns and 33 fantasy points in the last two weeks. And his matchup is fantastic this week. The Packers are a bottom ten run defense according to fantasy points allowed to backs as well as the ratings of ProFootballFocus and Football Outsiders. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t start SJax this week.
Lamar Miller / at Pittsburgh / ECR: 25 / My rank: 17
Miller actually strikes me as very similar to Jackson this week. Both weren’t getting a full compliment of carries early (Jackson in some part because of injury), but they’re now in positions to approach 20 carries per week. And Miller’s matchup this week is good as well. The Steelers are 19th in terms of most fantasy points allowed to backs, the 24th rated run defense by ProFootballFocus, and the 26th rated run defense by Football Outsiders.
Montee Ball / vs. Tennessee / ECR: 33 / My rank: 22
To be clear, I have Knowshon Moreno ranked as a top ten back this week, so I’m not thinking Ball is taking over in the Denver backfield. I just think Denver is going to slaughter Tennesee, and there should be plenty of opportunities for Ball to get work. I’d be surprised if he got fewer than 12 touches. And he should be able to be productive with 12-15 touches against the Titans who have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to backs and are a below average run defense according to ProFootballFocus and Football Outsiders.
Kendall Wright / at Denver / ECR: 23 / My rank: 17
Wright is just as safe as a play gets. Since week two he has at least 50 yards in each game and is averaging 75 yards per game over that span. And for the year he’s seventh in the league in receptions averaging almost six per game. I’d be surprised if he didn’t easily surpass six receptions this week against the Broncos because, as you might expect, teams have to throw a lot against Denver. For the year, Denver is second in pass attempts allowed.
Kris Durham / at Philadelphia / ECR: 56 / My rank: 31
I wrote about Durham on Tuesday, but the long story short is that this is a great matchup and I’m of the opinion that Durham is the second best receiving option in Detroit, not Nate Burleson. He’s obviously not a must-start, but if you’re desperate for a play or need a flex play in a deeper league, Durham is worth a shot.
Jared Cook / at Arizona / ECR: 14 / My rank: 8
In the piece I just linked to in the Durham paragraph, I also wrote about why Cook is a good play this week. The reason is that the Cardinals are getting torched by tight ends to an unprecedented degree. They’re allowing 14.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends, but the second worst team against the tight end is only allowing 9.7. And the worst team against the tight end last year only allowed 9.6.
This is just a brutal matchup for Stacy. The Cardinals, along with the Lions, have allowed the fewest touchdowns to running backs this year (three). And they allow the third fewest yards per carry to running backs. As a result, they’ve allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs. The odds of Stacy scoring are easily less than 50%, and the likelihood of him topping 80 yards is a 50/50 proposition at best.
Last week was the perfect example of these two being able to produce simultaneously. They split up 32 touches almost evenly, and they both found the end zone (Jackson twice). But that was against Atlanta who is a bottom ten if not bottom five run defense, and Atlanta also has an offense that helped push that game into a high scoring affair. Tampa Bay’s run defense is a top ten unit, and their offense isn’t nearly as good as Atlanta’s. Atlanta is 9th in terms of yard per play and Tampa Bay is 30th. This game isn’t going to go the same way, and the Bills backs aren’t going to be as successful.
Antonio Brown / vs. Miami / ECR: 12 / My rank: 22
Brent Grimes is having a hell of a year for Miami. ProFootballFocus has him rated as the third best cornerback in coverage this year, and he’s been primarily shadowing the opposition’s top receiver. A.J. Green and Torrey Smith are really the only #1 receivers to have success against Miami this year. Brown is in the same league as those two, so he could certainly be the third to find success, but I’m looking elsewhere. There are plenty of receivers you might have added at some point in the year that I would use as my WR2 this week over Brown. I’m talking about guys like Wright, Riley Cooper, Keenan Allen, Harry Douglas and Michael Floyd.
Eric Decker / vs. Tennessee / ECR: 18 / My rank: 25
I know it will be tough to sit Decker after his ridiculous game last week, but I don’t trust him at all this week. First of all, he had only 16 fantasy points combined in the four games prior to his explosion. To some extent, that’s just the nature of the Denver offense. Because they have five or six fantasy relevant skill position players, their guys are just going to have weeks where they disappear. And it seems to be very difficult to predict. And I’m guessing there will be fewer opportunities for Denver’s receivers to produce than normal this week. I fully expect them to get out to a big lead, and the way to beat Tennessee is on the ground, not through the air. I mentioned their below average run defense earlier, but they also have two top ten cover corners in Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner.
Vernon Davis / vs. Seattle / ECR: 5 / My rank: 14
Seattle is obviously a tough matchup, but my ranking of Davis is more about the nature of the 49ers offense. This is a heavy run-first offense. The 49ers are third in the league in rushing attempts (379) and dead last in passing attempts (304). That works out to only about 25 pass attempts per game. And they’re only averaging about 15 completions per game. With Michael Crabtree back in the mix, there’s not nearly enough to go around for Davis, Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. One of them could have a decent game here, and in the right matchup two of them could probably produce. But there’s just not nearly enough volume to feel comfortable with any of these guys, especially in this matchup.