Week 14 for most fantasy owners is the first week of the playoffs. Some lucky fantasy owners have a bye and therefore don’t need this column, at least not for this week. The rest of you, who are either playing the last week of the regular season or their first playoff game, need to figure out the best way to win. The fantasy season seems long back in September, but for many, it’s quickly coming to a close.
With injuries to many key players, rosters look much different for Week 14 than they did on draft day. Who would have thought that Mark Sanchez would be a starting quarterback? That guys like Justin Jackson, Jaylen Samuels and Jeff Wilson will be starting running backs for fantasy owners? It’s true because that’s what the fantasy season is like. What fantasy owners need to do is be aware of all of the changes and start their best possible roster.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide. You also can see how my Week 12 calls turned out at the bottom.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
In the past three games, the New York Jets have allowed at least 230 yards and two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. One of those quarterbacks was Matt Barkley, filling in for Allen and the Bills in Week 10. Since returning to the field, Allen has rushed for 234 yards and a touchdown in two games. He’s thrown for at least one touchdown in each game as well. He’s ranked No. 19 for Week 14, but he should finish as a high QB2.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
All signs point to Melvin Gordon being out for another game, which is good news for Jackson. The Chargers play the Bengals, who give up the most points to opposing running backs. While Austin Ekeler seemed to be the handcuff to Gordon, in Week 13 it was Jackson that made the most of his opportunities (eight carries, 63 yards, TD). Ekeler had more of a presence in the passing game (five receptions to Jackson’s one) but Jackson will likely be given more carries in Week 14. He’s ranked No. 25, but especially in standard scoring formats, he should exceed that.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Detroit Lions
With Kerryon Johnson still out with a knee injury, Blount should have a decent day against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals allow the fourth-most points to opposing running backs and since Johnson has been out, Blount has had 35 carries in two games. He’s turned those into 149 yards and two touchdowns. Blount has been a goal-line back, but with Johnson out, he’s been a viable RB2/3. He’s ranked No. 34 but should exceed that.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
After Emmanuel Sanders tore his Achilles’ tendon in practice this week, Sutton was elevated to the No. 1 receiver in Denver. The pass catchers in Denver are few and far between, and Sutton should see plenty of targets. He may be mtached up against Richard Sherman in Sunday's game with the 49ers, but Sutton should be able to take advantage of the targets headed his way. In Week 13 he saw seven targets (and caught four for 85 yards and a touchdown). He’s ranked No. 33 but should exceed that.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Somehow Njoku managed only eight yards on three receptions in Week 13. However, he has one of the best playoff schedules for tight ends, starting with Week 14. The Carolina Panthers allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Baker Mayfield has been looking for Njoku and it seemed that he just wasn’t in the game script as Jarvis Landry came back to life in Week 13. For Week 14, Njoku is ranked No. 7 but could exceed that ranking.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s possible this is a bad call. However, while the Saints are a great matchup for opposing quarterbacks, their defense has been solid. In the past four weeks, the only quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards was Matt Ryan. In those four weeks, only four touchdowns have been thrown against the Saints' defense. Some very good quarterbacks have had good games against the Saints, but after last week's loss in Dallas, New Orleans is looking to take out its frustrations on the Bucs. Winston is ranked No. 10 but has a very real chance of finishing below that.
Mark Ingram, RB, New York Saints
The matchup for Ingram is a good one — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers give up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. However, Alvin Kamara is the running back that has had the most success in recent weeks. While it is possible that the Saints get up by a decent amount and they then rely on Ingram to run out the clock, it’s also possible that their offense neglects to show up (as in the past couple weeks) and Ingram’s No. 13 ranking turns out to be too high.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Since Golden Tate has been added to the team, Jeffery has struggled to get targets. Without targets, his role has diminished and his fantasy value has tanked. He was ranked No. 23 last week as well and finished well below that. He hasn’t had more than four receptions since Week 7, and he hasn’t found the end zone since then either. After starting his season with four touchdowns in his first four games, he’s had none since. Jeffery is barely a WR3 against a Dallas team that gives up the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Baldwin has spent most of the season injured, and he was added to the injury report this week with a hip injury. It seems that he’ll still play, but he just hasn’t been healthy. The Seahawks face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, who give up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Baldwin did find the end zone in Week 13, but Tyler Lockett has been the wide receiver to start for Seattle. Baldwin is ranked No. 32 but isn’t in the WR3 consideration.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
While the tight end position is thin, Hooper is ranked No. 10. He faces the Green Bay Packers, who allow the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Packers have only allowed one tight end to score a touchdown (Ed Dickson, Week 11) this season. While Hooper does have four touchdowns on the season, assuming that both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley shed their questionable tags and play, Hooper is not a TE1 for Week 14.
Full Disclosure for Week 13
5 Up (3/5 correct)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (Ranked: 12, Actual: 11)
James White, RB, New England Patriots (Ranked: 27, Actual: 11)
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 18, Actual: 19)
Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (Ranked: 77, Actual: 31)
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (Ranked: 10, Actual: 21)
5 Down (5/5 correct)
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Ranked: 4, Actual: 10)
Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans (Ranked: 22, Actual: not top 50)
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (Ranked: 3, Actual: 21)
Alshon Jeffrey, WR Philadelphia Eagles (Ranked: 23, actual: not in top 50)
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (Ranked: 3, Actual: 21)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.