Fantasy football Week 14 preview

Whether you have one week left in the regular season or you’re starting the first round of playoffs this weekend, Week 14 is a very big one. For all intents and purposes, it’s playoff time, fantasy owners.

Here are the guys you should start or sit to stay alive for your league championship:

Start

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals — Even without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, Dalton had a great game against the Eagles last week. He faces the Browns this week, so he should have a solid outing. The last time he faced them he had 308 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton runs the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton runs the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers — Things look good for Winston as he gets to face the Saints twice in the next three weeks. New Orleans has surrendered 19 touchdowns through the air and gives up 277 yards per game.

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers — Just in case you were scared off due to his performance last week, you have to factor in that he was at Seattle. This week he will take on the Chargers at home.

Matt Forte, RB, Jets — He wasn’t as bad as he seemed last week against the Colts. He totaled 79 yards against a bad defense. This week he should find the end zone as he takes on the worst team in points allowed to running backs, 49ers.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — Hill’s the main man in Cincinnati and should roll against the Browns. He had 168 yards and a touchdown the last time he faced Cleveland.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins — Despite the Cardinals doing well against most running backs, Ajayi is a high-volume player and the Dophins should be able to keep the game close unlike last week.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks — Facing Green Bay has turned into a nice treat for fantasy football players. Baldwin’s had two tough games in a row, but he has two nice matchups in the next two weeks.

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots — The Ravens have given up 21 touchdown passes, which is in the bottom half of the league. Edelman has had at least seven targets in eight straight games and is coming off his first 100-yard outing.

Broncos receivers — If Trevor Siemian is good to go, I think both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are good starts against the Titans. Tennessee is 31st in points allowed to wideouts.

Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers — He has four touchdowns in his last six games and could find the end zone against the Saints.

Bengals defense — They face the Browns and a rusty Robert Griffin III.

Sit

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens — Don’t go chasing last week’s production. New England will be a much tougher matchup than the Dolphins were last week.

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans — He’s had a fantasy season to remember, but you can’t start him against the Broncos in the first week of your playoffs.

Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos — His yards-per-carry average hasn’t been good since taking over for the injured C.J. Anderson. The Broncos signed Justin Forsett, who knows the offense well. Be wary of Booker this week against the Titans, who rank sixth in points allowed to running backs.

Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) is stopped by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense including Myles Jack (44), Dante Fowler (56) and Paul Posluszny, right, during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) is stopped by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense including Myles Jack (44), Dante Fowler (56) and Paul Posluszny, right, during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants — The Cowboys have only given up five rushing touchdowns all year and are second best in rushing yards allowed per game. They’re fourth best in points allowed to running backs.

Ravens running backs — Neither Terrance West nor Kenneth Dixon should fare well against the Patriots. They’ll likely trail the host team for most of the game, forcing them to abandon the run.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers — He’s only been good every other week over the last month and he faces the Seahawks defense. Expect Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to make the most hay.

Steve Smith, WR, Ravens — He’s been targeted at least five times in each of his last five games, but his production has been on and off. The Patriots are sixth best in points allowed to receivers.

Dolphins receivers — DeVante Parker is ailing and Jarvis Landry has had just two solid games in the last five weeks. The Cardinals are 10th-best in limiting wideouts’ fantasy points.

Fantasy football Week 8 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals — He obviously has a great weapon in A.J. Green, and Tyler Eifert is expected to be more productive after coming back from injury last week. Dalton should be good to go against a Washington pass defense that’s middle of the pack.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers — Feel free to let him loose on an Oakland defense that is 29th in points allowed to quarterbacks.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — He’s been terrible since the bye, and he’s had only one really good game this season. If he can’t do well against the Saints this week, leave him on the bench.

Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos — Booker was already making an impact, but now that C.J. Anderson will miss significant time, he should be the lead back in Denver.

Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) runs against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) runs against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers — Rodgers is coming off two straight 100-yard games and faces an Oakland defense that is 23rd in points allowed to running backs.

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Packers — Sure, he’s getting touches at running back, but he’s been targeted a total of 25 times in the passing game in the past two weeks. That volume leads to big results.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers — Facing the Falcons, a team that gives up nearly 300 yards passing per game, there’s room for more than two Packers receivers to be successful. Cobb has been on a tear the past three weeks. Heck, even Jordy Nelson, who has struggled recently, might have a good game.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Will Fuller, WR, Texans — Brock Osweiler doesn’t instill confidence in you, but Fuller is due a good game. He faces a Lions defense that is 26th in points allowed to wideouts, and the speedy rookie has been targeted no less than six times in each game he’s played.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — The Saints are middle of the road in points allowed to tight ends, but Graham plays like a wide receiver. He should get his this week.

Sits

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears — The only people happy about him starting are Alshon Jeffery owners. Cutler will target Jeffery at will, but that doesn’t mean he’ll produce well himself.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers — The last time he faced the Broncos he started the game on fire, but after San Diego took the lead, the game script left him with a bad game. This time he faces Denver on the road with DeMarcus Ware possibly back in the lineup.

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears — He’s gained just 62 total yards in his last two games and faces a tough Vikings defense on Monday night.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — He’s rushed for more than 77 yards only one time this season, and the Cowboys are actually really good at limiting running backs’ fantasy points.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins — His hamstring and shoulder are bothering him and he hasn’t played like a WR1 since Week 3. Sit him against a good Bengals pass defense.

Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) waits on a pass defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) waits on a pass defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers — Benjamin had just 17 yards receiving the last time he faced the Broncos. He’s dealing with a knee injury as well, so it makes sense to sit him even if he plays.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Patriots — Play a starter who is the No. 1 tight end option on his team instead of Bennett. He hasn’t been good for two games in a row, and the Bills are fourth best at limiting points by the position.

Fantasy football: To tinker or not to tinker?

Full disclosure, I went 0-2 in my leagues this week. It’s not the kind of start you want to see out of your trusted fantasy guru. In fantasy football there is the right play and there’s the winning play. They’re not always one and the same.

In one league I faced Drew Brees and Spencer Ware. Brees was the second-highest scoring quarterback, behind Andrew Luck, while Ware was the second highest scoring running back in Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

In another league, the Office Football League here at the Statesman, I went up against DeAngelo Williams, the highest scoring running back in Week 1, in addition to Brandin Cooks and Antonio Brown. Cooks was the highest scoring receiver of the week while Brown was third best. Congratulations to Kirk Bohls on his near record-setting performance (191 points!) in the OFL.

Losing both of these games had me originally thinking about making some pickups or changing my lineup. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m going to touch a thing in one of these leagues.

Here’s my lineup from Week 1 in the OFL (standard + 6-points for TD passes, one point per two receptions):

QB: Jameis Winston
RB: David Johnson
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Mike Evans
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Antonio Gates
Flex: Demaryius Thomas
K: Dan Bailey
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Philip Rivers, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, Laquon Treadwell, Tyler Boyd, Tajae Sharpe, Michael Thomas, Tyler Eifert.

There’s a lot of youth on my bench in this keeper league, but I don’t see replacing what I’ve got in my lineup. Maybe I could go with DeMarco Murray instead of Thomas at my flex, but is the top receiver in Denver really going to be held to 48 yards again? Benching Marshall seems like a bad move as well since he was targeted a decent amount of times (8) on his way to just 32 yards receiving.

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals' Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals’ Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

In the other league I’m in I may actually end up tinkering a little bit.

Here’s that league’s lineup (standard + 6-points for TD passes):

QB: Derek Carr
RB: David Johnson
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
Flex: Christine Michael
K: Chris Boswell
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Melvin Gordon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard.

Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)
Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)

I went with Michael in response to him getting the start over a recovering Thomas Rawls. Rawls did end up playing, however, and had just two fewer touches than Michael. I had to see Gordon produce well before I started him in my lineup. He did great in Week 1, though he had fewer touches than Danny Woodhead, so I’ll probably give him a shot in Week 2. I also like Sterling Shepard’s matchup with the Saints so I may sit Maclin this week.

Dez Bryant had a week to forget, but you’d think the coaching staff would make sure he gets a lot more targets in Week 2.

Let me know what you think @AAS_Cat. Would you tinker with either lineup?

Fantasy football Week 1 recap and waiver wire suggestions

The fantasy football season opened up the throttle on Sunday, and there were definitely some high-octane performances.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Andrew Luck started his attempt at a bounce-back year with a stellar performance; he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover. Drew Brees might have been the top scorer of the week had he not lost a fumble. He threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yard score to Brandin Cooks. And A.J. Green had a brilliant start, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The best performance by a running back came from the waiver wire pickup of the week, Spencer Ware. Once word got out that Jamaal Charles wasn’t quite ready, owners rushed to pick up his main backup before the season kicked off.
Ware didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching seven passes for an additional 129 yards.

At the tight end spot, both of the Colts’ ends found paydirt. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jack Doyle had three catches for 35 yards and two scores.

The top defense of the week started slow but turned it on in the second half. Minnesota allowed 16 points to the Titans but forced three turnovers and added two sacks in addition to scoring two touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

It wasn’t all positive in the fantasy world. Quite a few players had some games to forget:
At the top of that list has to be Dez Bryant, who caught just one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants. He had a touchdown called back when it was reviewed and determined that he didn’t control the ball before touching out of bounds in the end zone.

Brandon Marshall, the top option for the Jets, had just three catches for 32 yards despite being targeted eight times.

Sammy Watkins also disappointed as he caught four passes for 43 yards. Additionally, Tyler Lockett, who was expected to break out for the Seahawks, had just three catches for 17 yards.

At running back, we saw Devonta Freeman produce just 40 total yards as Tevin Coleman gained 117 yards on 13 touches for the Falcons.

In Tennessee, Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards as the Titans were able to key on the run with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings.

A striking theme from Sunday was the great performances from second-year players. Jameis Winston, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Donte Moncrief and Stefon Diggs all produced well to start their sophomore seasons.

Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Cooks, also in his second season, had 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately we saw Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL after catching six passes for 63 yards. And word broke on Monday that Robert Griffin III could be done for the season with a shoulder fracture. Russell Wilson also has a sprained ankle to be monitored.

With that, look to the waiver wire:

Quarterbacks
Alex Smith, Chiefs (363 passing yards, 3 total TDs)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (278, TD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots (264, TD)
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (227, 0 turnovers)

Wide receivers
Will Fuller, Texans (5 catches, 107 yards, TD)
Mike Wallace, Ravens (6-91, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots (60, TD)
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (57, TD)
Sterling Shepard, Giants (43, TD)
Victor Cruz, Giants (34, TD)
Tajae Sharpe, Titans (7-76)
Michael Thomas, Saints (6-58)

Running backs
Tevin Coleman, Falcons (117 total yards, 13 touches)
Jalen Richard, Raiders (95, TD, 5 touches)
Shane Vereen, Giants (61, 9 touches)