Week 14 Fantasy Start/Sit and Streamers
This article is part of our Exploiting the Matchups series.
Unless otherwise noted, references to ‘fantasy points’ are based on PPR scoring with 25/10 yards per point and 4/6 points for TDs. Start % comes from Yahoo, as of Wednesday night / Thursday morning.
Tua Tagovailoa (at LAC) — 48% started
Start Over — Geno Smith (vs. CAR), Tom Brady (at SF), Dak Prescott (vs. HOU)
Tagovailoa has been consistent, especially from a fantasy standpoint, since returning from his stint in the concussion protocol. He’s topped 15 points and 260 passing yards six times in six tries, with at least 30 attempts and one TD in every game. And while the 49ers got the best of him last week thanks to turnovers, Tagovailoa should rebound strong against a Chargers defense that’s bottom 12 in DVOA against the pass, fantasy points allowed to QBs and NY/A, among other things. Only four defenses have faced fewer passes per game, yet only four have given up more passing TDs (20). Isn’t Brandon Staley a gem?
Other Good Matchups: Justin Herbert (vs. MIA), Kirk Cousins (at DET), Jared Goff (vs. MIN)
Running Backs 👍
Isiah Pacheco — 67% started
Start Over — Dameon Pierce (at DAL), Jamaal Williams (vs. MIN),
Denver’s defense has been excellent against the pass but merely average versus the run, ranking 16th in DVOA, 20th in YPC (4.5) and 19th in rushing yards allowed per game (120.1). The lack of fantasy points allowed to RBs — eighth fewest — is due to limited receiving production and relatively few scoring opportunities. Both problems are less pertinent to Pacheco, who has six targets all seasons and lines up next to Patrick Mahomes. The rookie also has four straight games with at least 14 carries for 66 yards, so don’t shy away just because he’s facing a good defense; the Chiefs are still favored by more than a TD and tie for the fourth best implied total of the week.
Raheem Mostert (at LAC) — 34% started
Start Over — Kareem Hunt (at CIN), Leonard Fournette & Rachaad White (at SF)
The 49ers shut down old friends Mostert and Jeff Wilson, with the latter barely getting a chance as he took just one carry on 17 snaps (37 percent). Mostert fared only marginally better with seven carries for 30 yards, but he at least played 61 percent of snaps in his first game back from a minor knee injury, reversing the pre-injury/bye-week trend of Wilson leading the way. Maybe that holds this week, maybe it doesn’t. This is the spot to roll the dice, against a Chargers defense that we already dragged above (and is actually even worse against the run, allowing a league-high 5.4 YPC).
Other Good Matchups: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard (vs. HOU), D’Onta Foreman (at SEA), Tony Jones (vs. CAR)
Wide Receivers 👍
Jerry Jeudy (vs. KC) — 45% started
Start Over — Michael Gallup (vs. HOU), Brandon Aiyuk (vs. TB)
The Chiefs rank 26th in pass-defense DVOA and have given up the fourth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Their defense hasn’t been quite that bad from a real-life standpoint, but it’s not good, and quick strikes on the other side from Patrick Mahomes can boost the volume for opposing QBs and pass catchers. It sets up nicely for Jeudy, who caught four passes for 65 yards on only 20 snaps last week against the Ravens. He could triple that snap count in his second week back from injury, and targets should flow in the likely event of teammate Courtland Sutton (knee) being inactive. Expect Jeudy to get it done this week even if the Broncos stink it up again.
DeVante Parker — 2% started
Start Over — Elijah Moore (at BUF), DeAndre Carter (vs. MIA), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (at DEN)
It’s been a month and a half since Parker drew more than four targets in a game, and two and a half months since he saw more than six. That likely precludes interest in 10-team leagues, but anyone scrambling for a WR in a deep league or looking toward DFS showdowns Monday night should keep Parker in mind. He’s the one Patriots receiver we know will be on the field a lot, while the others are in danger of rotating even if Jakobi Meyers (concussion) doesn’t end up playing. Parker topped 80 percent snap share the past two weeks and figures to mostly be on the field against a subpar defense this Monday, perhaps serving as the de facto No. 1 given that Meyers is in concussion protocol and was struggling to play through a shoulder injury even before the brain injury.
Other Good Matchups: Amon-Ra St. Brown & DJ Chark (vs. MIN), Adam Thielen (vs. DET), Zay Jones (vs. TEN), Demarcus Robinson (at PIT)
Tight Ends 👍
Gerald Everett (vs. MIA) — 64% started
Start Over — Dawson Knox (vs. NYJ), Greg Dulcich (vs. KC)
Miami’s defense ranks ninth in DVOA against the run and 23rd against the pass, with the relative weakness perhaps more noticeable due to a high-powered Dolphins offense sometimes forcing opponents into catch-up mode. It’s the type of matchup that could produce 50 pass attempts from Justin Herbert, whose team sometimes abandons the run even when the clock and score don’t demand it. Everett should be one of the beneficiaries against a Miami defense that’s given up the third most fantasy points to tight ends.
Other Good Matchups: Hunter Henry (at ARZ)
Tom Brady (at SF) — 49% started
Start Instead — Geno Smith (vs. CAR), Jared Goff (vs. MIN), Derek Carr (at LAR)
A late charge Monday night was enough for the win and control of the NFC South, but Brady still has only one game all year with 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns — and that happened in the Week 4 blowout loss to Kansas City…on 52 pass attempts. This game figures to be much different, featuring a pair of top-five defenses and an over/under of 37. I’d take the over if I were betting on it, but that doesn’t mean I want to start a QB whose team has the second worst implied total (16.75) of Week 14.
Other Tough Matchups: Deshaun Watson (at CIN), Brock Purdy (vs. TB), Mike White (at BUF), Davis Mills (at DAL)
Running Backs 👎
Devin Singletary (vs. NYJ) — 65% started
Start Instead — Raheem Mostert (at LAC), Latavius Murray (vs. KC), D’Onta Foreman (at SEA)
It’s possible the role expansion for James Cook (and Nyheim Hines) last week was matchup-specific or related to a short week. It’s also possible it wasn’t, in which case the solid-but-unspectacular Singletary is now part of a three-way timeshare ahead of a matchup with a tough defense that ranks 11th in DVOA against the run and 7th in YPC allowed (4.1). Even with six teams on bye this week, Singletary’s presence in nearly two-thirds of Yahoo lineups is evidence that not enough people are reading my weekly Backfield Breakdown here on RotoWire. Singletary may have scored another TD last week, but his 44 percent snap share was a season low while Cook’s 43 percent was a career high. Even Hines took 31 percent of snaps, after barely playing his first month with the Bills. Approach Singletary with caution, if not outright fear.
Gus Edwards (at PIT) — 16% started
Start Instead — Chuba Hubbard (at SEA), Kenyan Drake (at PIT), Zonovan Knight (at BUF)
Pittsburgh’s solid work against the run is actually a small concern relative to all the other problems facing Edwards, who can be dropped rather than benched in shallow-ish fantasy leagues. J.K. Dobbins (knee) might be coming back this week, and even if he doesn’t, Edwards will be playing with Tyler Huntley at quarterback rather than Lamar Jackson, which likely means fewer option runs and more short passes, i.e., more playing time for Kenyan Drake and/or Justice Hill even if Dobbins is out again. There’s also the matter of Baltimore being an underdog rather than favorite, an especially important factor for a back like Edwards who doesn’t catch passes and thus typically needs to find the end zone to put up decent numbers. If he does have another strong stat line this year, it’ll likely be Week 17 or 18.
Other Tough Matchups: Dameon Pierce (at DAL), Leonard Fournette & Jeff Wilson (at SF), Michael Carter & Zonovan Knight (at BUF)
Wide Receivers 👎
JuJu Smith-Schuster (at DEN) — 56% started
Start Instead — Adam Thielen (at DET), Jerry Jeudy (at KC), DJ Moore (at SEA)
Smith-Schuster returned to a full workload (78 percent snap share) last week in Cincinnati after being limited his first game back from concussion protocol. He nonetheless saw only four targets, and has just one outing this season with more than eight, with 17.1 percent share in his active games putting JuJu in the same range as Gabe Davis, Mack Hollins and Van Jefferson.
It is, of course, 17.1 percent of a very valuable passing game, but even Kansas City isn’t the type of 400-yard-per-week behemoth that we saw Weeks 6-9 when Smith-Schuster had his three best fantasy games consecutively. I will note that those games were against the Niners, Bills and Titans, so maybe Smith-Schuster can work his magic again versus another tough defense? I’d bet against it, and bet on Pacheco and Travis Kelce to do the heavy lifting instead.
Tyler Boyd (at CLE) — 28% started
Start Instead — Zay Jones (at TEN), DJ Chark (vs. MIN), Darius Slayton (vs. PHI)
I initially had Boyd in my lineup for a season-long FanDuel contest, figuring his price had gone down after he failed to benefit from Ja’Marr Chase’s absence, and hoping he might do better with TE Hayden Hurst (calf) now sidelined against an inconsistent Cleveland defense. Nice thoughts, perhaps, but I’ve already reconsidered. ESPN’s Mike Clay notes that Cleveland has allowed the fewest fantasy points to slot receivers, with CB Greg Newsome allowing only 0.83 yards per cover snap (seventh best among 40 CBs with triple digit coverage snaps in the slot, per PFF). In any case, Boyd’s strong start to the year may have been more noise than signal; he’s averaging only 5.5 targets per game even after Chase missed a month.
Other Tough Matchups: Gabe Davis (vs. NYJ), Mike Evans + Chris Godwin + Julio Jones (at SF), George Pickens & Diontae Johnson (vs. BAL), Marquise Brown (vs. NE), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (at DEN)
Tight Ends 👎
Dawson Knox (at NYJ) — 48% started
Start Instead — David Njoku (at CIN0, Evan Engram (at TEN), Greg Dulcich (vs. KC)
Knox was a midseason tease, with TDs in back-to-back games followed shortly thereafter by weeks with six and seven targets. In between, the Jets held him to 3-25-0 on four looks, contributing to a broader picture that’s seen Knox get fewer targets than last year (3.9 per game, down from 4.7) while scoring only twice on 33 catches. His long-term TD rate should fall somewhere in between this year and last, but even a strong rebound puts him at one score every third or fourth game if he’s averaging less than four targets per contest overall. Let’s just say I don’t like his chances to become the first TE with a receiving TD against the Jets this season (note that only three defenses have faced more TE targets, while 12 have allowed more TE receiving yards).
Other Tough Matchups: Tyler Conklin (at BUF)
For Shallow Leagues (40-66 percent rostered)
QB Jared Goff (vs. MIN)
RB Cam Akers (vs. LV)
RB James Cook (vs. NYJ)
RB Zonovan Knight (at BUF)
RB Jerick McKinnon (at DEN)
WR Darius Slayton (vs. PHI)
WR Zay Jones (at TEN)
TE Evan Engram (at TEN)
TE Greg Dulcich (vs. KC)
K Jason Myers (vs. CAR)
D/ST Steelers (vs. BAL)
For Medium-depth Leagues (16-39 percent rostered)
QB Tyler Huntley (at PIT)
QB Ryan Tannehill (vs. JAX)
RB Chuba Hubbard (at SEA)
WR DJ Chark (vs. MIN)
TE Tyler Conklin (at BUF)
TE Noah Fant (vs. CAR)
K Jason Sanders (at LAC)
D/ST Bengals (vs. CLE)
For Deep Leagues (0-15 percent rostered)
QB Brock Purdy (vs. TB)
QB Sam Darnold (at SEA)
RB Tony Jones (vs. CAR)
RB Travis Homer (vs. CAR)
WR DeVante Parker (at ARZ)
WR Demarcus Robinson (at PIT)
WR Kendall Hinton (vs. KC)
WR K.J. Osborn (at DET)
WR Terrace Marshall (at SEA)
TE Daniel Bellinger (vs. PHI)
K Cade York (at CIN)
D/ST Cardinals (vs. NE)