Dynasty Pros Week 14 - Starts/Sleepers/Sits
By Joel Dehls
Welcome to the fantasy playoffs! It's finally week 14 and we're in the home stretch. We had a great week 13 with players like Taysom Hill, Ryan Tannehill, David Montgomery, and Jarvis Landry all hit big. While players like Carson Wentz and Phillip Lindsay struggled. I hope to bring the same great advice this week. Lets get it.
Start - Justin Herbert vs. Atlanta Falcons
The leader for rookie of the year has seemed to hit a rookie wall over the past 2 weeks. With 7 straight games of 2 or more touchdowns, it appeared Herbert was going to make a push to end the year as a top 5 QB. After a let down game against Buffalo (where he still put up 300+ yards and a touchdown) and an abysmal performance against New England, some fantasy managers are questioning whether the NFL has figured out Herbert. While a 6 point performance in week 13 is worrisome, there is no doubt in my mind Herbert will be back to a top 7 QB this week against the Falcons.
The Atlanta Falcons have been a defense we’ve picked on all year. According to Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) the Falcons have allowed the most QB1 games this season (8). To back that up, the Falcons allow the most points to the QB position, 24. That includes 2 games where Taysom Hill scored 23+ and even made Drew Lock look like a starting caliber QB. With a fully healthy offense and the best matchup you can ask for, Herbert is a MUST start for week 14.
Sleeper - Ben Roethlisberger @ Buffalo Bills
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off their first loss of the season to the Washington Football Team and the biggest takeaway is that the Steelers cannot run the ball to save their life. I understand James Conner was on the COVID list and out this game (Benny Snell makes Conner look like a hall of famer by the way), but even with Conner in the lineup, the Steelers rush for the 4th fewest yards/game. The Steelers have been the pass-happiest offense in the NFL over the past month of the season, throwing the ball at least 46 times in each of their last 4 matchups. In arguably their toughest test yet against the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers will throw the ball 40+ times to keep up with the Bills offense.
While the Bills defense has been dominant in years past, it has been a weakness in 2020. They allow the 7th most points to the QB position (21), and are coming off a game where they allowed Nick Mullens to throw for 300+ yards and 3 TD’s. With multiple injuries to key pieces on the Steelers defense, I expect the Bills to have no problem moving the ball against them, forcing Ben to play catchup. Start Ben as a top 12 QB this week.
Sit - Jalen Hurts vs. New Orleans Saints
FINALLY. After weeks and weeks of Carson Wentz being the worst QB in the NFL, Doug Pederson has finally pulled the plug and is giving the keys to Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately for Hurts, the Eagles offensive problems aren't only on Wentz. I broke down all of their issues in a recent YouTube video you can find here. To quickly summarize, other than Wentz being terrible, the Eagles offensive line has been depleted by injuries, Doug Pederson has been an awful play caller, and Pederson has made some terrible personnel decisions (like giving Alshon Jeffery more snaps than Travis Fulgham). I like Jalen Hurts, and he has a decent floor because of his rushing ability, but against one of the best defenses in the NFL, I’d be looking for another QB to start.
The New Orleans Saints defense has been tremendous at all 3 levels. Against fantasy quarterbacks, they are the 3rd hardest matchup, allowing less than 17 fantasy points/game to the position. They allow the 4th fewest passing yards/game, 2nd fewest rushing yards/game, and have the 4th best scoring defense on the year. All of that adds up to a tough game for a rookie making his first start in the NFL. Some guys I would start over Hurts are Taysom Hill, Ryan Tannehill, Big Ben, and Baker Mayfield.
Start - David Montgomery vs. Houston Texans
David Montgomery was my start of the week last week and I’m riding with him again. This will probably be the last week I can make him my start of the week (can't do it 3 weeks in a row, you think I’m crazy?), but take a look at his opponents rest of season:
Week 14: Houston (31st against RB’s)
Week 15: Minnesota (15th against RB’s)
Week 16: Jacksonville (29th against RB’s)
This should shake out to be a phenomenal finish for David Montgomery and opens up an interesting sell high opportunity in the offseason for dynasty owners, but that's another article for another day.
I’m not sure if there's a word in the English dictionary that could summarize how terrible the Texans have been on the defensive side of the ball. Outside of allowing 8 top 24 finishes in just 4 games, they also allow the 2nd most points to the RB position (29), the 2nd most rushing yards/game (150), and tied for the 4th most rushing touchdowns allowed. Start Montgomery as a top 10 RB this week.
Sleeper - Jonathan Taylor @ Las Vegas Raiders
Jonathan Taylor was a top 3 pick in a ton of rookie drafts going into 2020 and after Marlon Mack went down in week 1, we all believed Taylor would step up in a big way. Unfortunately, while he has been solid (RB16 on the year), we all feel like he hasn't been utilized correctly. His snap count is confusing, as it has not surpassed 60% since week 2. Where Jonathan Taylor has flourished this year is in the passing game. According to player profiler, Taylor has the 11th most receiving yards for RB’s, 3rd highest yards per reception, 3rd highest yards per route, and the highest catch rate of any RB. If he ever gets the consistent rushing work he deserved, he will be a top 5 RB week in and week out.
The Raiders are one of the most perplexing teams in the NFL. They beat the Chiefs, Browns, and Chargers, then got blown out by the Falcons and should have lost to the Jets (all hail Gregg Williams). One thing you can count on from the Raiders is a terrible rush defense. They allow the 4th most points per game to the RB position (25) and allowed Ty Johnson to rush for over 100 yards last week. If Frank Reich gives Taylor 15+ carries, paired with his usage in the passing game, could lead to another huge game from the rookie.
Sit - Duke Johnson @ Chicago Bears
David Johnson has dealt with injuries earlier in the year and is now on the COVID list. When he was placed on IR a few weeks ago, Duke Johnson was lined up to be the starting RB and see 70%+ of snaps. While he was the clear #1 RB on the team, he wasn't able to do much with it. He failed to top 55 yards in any game, and while he was efficient catching the ball, it wasn't enough to make him a reliable starter. While he did have a nice game on Thanksgiving against the Lions, almost all of his fantasy points came from a long TD reception. Against a tough defense this week, I’m staying far away from Duke.
The Chicago Bears are the 10th hardest matchup for opposing RB’s, allowing less than 19 points/game to the running back group. Most notably, holding both Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook to less than 100 rushing yards in back to back weeks. A few guys I would start over Duke Johnson are Wayne Gallman, Melvin Gordon, and JD McKissic.
Start - Tyler Lockett vs. New York Jets
It seems like a lifetime ago when Tyler Lockett put up his 200 yard, 3 touchdown game against the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, Lockett has been extremely disappointing for fantasy owners who start him every week. Since week 7, he has only surpassed double digit fantasy points one time, and has 3 games with 6 or less fantasy points. While many fantasy managers are on the verge of giving up hope with Lockett, this week against the Jets puts him in a great position to succeed.
The Jets allow the 10th most points to the WR position, at nearly 33 points/game. They allowed a HUGE game to Darren Waller last week, who plays more like a WR than a TE, and Henry Ruggs also had a 50 yard TD at the end of regulation. The Jets also allowed 8 catches, 117 yards to DeVante Parker in week 12, 145 yards to Keenan Allen in week 11, and 169 yards to Jakobi Meyers in week 9. Fire up Lockett as a top 10 WR this week.
Sleeper - Antonio Brown vs. Minnesota Vikings
When AB returned from suspension in week 9, he was an instant sell to me in dynasty and keeper leagues. Between not playing in the NFL in over a year, fighting for targets in a talented WR group, and coming into a complicated offense midseason, Brown was not someone I was confident in starting. Through his first 4 starts, he is only startable in PPR leagues, with 3 games of 5 or more receptions. But, he has played against some tough secondaries - New Orleans, Carolina, Rams, and the Chiefs are all tough opponents. Looking forward, the schedule is phenomenal for AB and the Bucs. They play Minnesota, Atlanta, and Detroit for the final 3 weeks of the fantasy season.
The Minnesota Vikings have been abysmal defensively. They allow the 3rd most points to WRs (35), 7th most passing yards/game, and the 7th most points/game. The Bucs are coming off a bye and a close loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. This game is important to the Bucs as they are fighting to keep their wild card spot. I expect Tom Brady and the Bucs offense to get back on track in a plus matchup against the Vikings.
Sit - DeVante Parker vs. Kansas City Chiefs
If Ryan Fitzpatrick was starting, DeVante Parker wouldn't be my sit this week. Unfortunately for Parker, Tua is going to be the starting QB against a stingy Chiefs defense. While I believe in the talent of Parker, the Dolphins have been babying Tua. To Tua’s credit, week 13 was his highest passing total of the year, as he had 39 attempts and 296 yards. Before that, he had not passed more than 28 times in one game and failed to reach 250 passing yards. On one hand, the Dolphins will probably be playing catchup, on the other hand the Chiefs passing defense has been solid all year and Tua has been mostly underwhelming. I’m not taking my chances in the playoffs with Parker.
The Chiefs are the 3rd toughest matchup for opposing WR’s. They allow under 26 fantasy points/game and have not allowed 100 yards to a WR in over a month. They were able to shut down the passing attack of the Bucs, as Gronk was the leading receiver. While there is a chance Parker is able to put together a solid game because the talent is there, I would look elsewhere. A few guys I’m starting over him are AB, Amari Cooper, and Robby Anderson.
Start - Mark Andrews @ Cleveland Browns
Between a rocky season and coming off the COVID list, Mark Andrews is one of the more interesting TE plays this week. On one hand, Andrews is one of the most talented TE’s in the league, on the other hand, Lamar has regressed as a passer and they are one of the most run heavy teams in the NFL. He is coming off 4 straight games of at least 5 targets, and had 60 or more receiving yards in his previous 2 games before getting COVID. Start Andrews as a top 5 TE this week.
The Browns are a great matchup for TE’s as they allow the 4th most points to the TE position. They have allowed double digit fantasy points in 6 straight games, including 31.5 points to the Eagles TE’s just a couple weeks ago. Start Andrews, with confidence, as a top 5 TE.
Sleeper - Evan Engram vs. Arizona Cardinals
I like Evan Engram this week against the Cardinals as Daniel Jones is back as the starting QB. The last time Jones played was 2 weeks ago against the Bengals. In that game, Engram had 9 targets, 6 receptions, and 129 yards. He was the clear #1 option for Jones and it was one of his best games as a pro.
The Cardinals defense against TE’s last year was laughably bad. This year they have improved, as they are the 7th toughest matchup for TE’s. Although they have allowed less than 9 points/game to the position, they allowed double digit fantasy points to the Dolphins TE’s and to TJ Hockenson.
Sit- Logan Thomas @ 49ers
I’ve been hyping up Logan Thomas for a few weeks now and he had a breakout game against the Steelers. He had 9 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. He was one of Alex Smith's favorite targets and even outproduced Terry McLaurin. This week against the 49ers, I wouldn't expect the same outcome.
The 49ers are the toughest matchup for opposing TE’s, as they allow fewer than 7 points/game. It is also the 3rd lowest over/under of the week at 43.5 points, so Vegas is expecting a low scoring game between two backup QBs. I would rather start Evan Engram, Robert Tonyan, and Noah Fant.