For most fantasy football leagues, this is semifinals week. And if you’re fortunate enough to still be playing, this isn’t the time to get cute. You need to start your studs. You need to play the guys that brought you to the dance.
But what about those really tough choices? What about your flex? What about running backs like Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins and even Jonathan Stewart? Are they worth the risk this week?
Good Calls for Week 14...
Start Kenyan Drake (19.3 fantasy points) – Drake once again thrived as the main weapon for the Dolphins, this time piling up the stats against the Patriots.
I said it might be worth the risk to start Giovani Bernard (13 FP) and it was, as he was the only Bengal to really show up against the Bears.
Bad Calls for Week 14...
Sit Jordan Howard (27.5 FP) – A week after scoring 3.3 fantasy points, he crushed the Bengals. Good thing you start your studs.
Sit Alex Collins (22.6 FP) – Don’t look now but Collins is a RB1 at this point as he’s become a part of the Raven’s passing attack.
START THESE RBs...
Jordan Howard, CHI (at DET, Sat.)
The Bears realize that in order for them to be a competent offense, they need to get the ball in Howard’s hands. He had carries against the Bengals, and now he’s got a Detroit defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. That little blip a few weeks ago was just that. Feel confident rolling him out again.
Alex Collins, BAL (at CLE)
Collins had 18 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 against the Steelers, one of the better defenses in the league. Collins is now fourth in the league at 5.1 yards per carry, but faces a Browns defense that is giving up giving 3.4 yards per attempt, the best mark in the NFL. But this shouldn’t dissuade you from starting Collins. The Ravens know that they need to get Collins going for them to score, which is one reason why Baltimore has put up 44 and 39 points in the last two games.
Kenyan Drake, MIA (at BUF)
If you snagged Drake off the waiver wire once Jay Ajayi was traded, you are probably still playing in your fantasy playoffs. The Dolphins are absolutely feeding their new primary back to the tune of 48 carries over the last two games. Now Miami faces the worst rushing defense in the league, and the one that is giving up the most fantasy points to running backs on the year.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jonathan Stewart, CAR (vs. GB)
Stewart carried the ball 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday and has now scored a touchdown in three straight games. He could make it four in a row against the Packers on Sunday. Green Bay hasn’t surrendered a rushing touchdown since Week 11, but its defense ranks 23rd in rushes per touchdown allowed in the red zone and also is the fifth-worst goal-to-go defense in the NFL.
SIT THESE RBs...
Mike Davis, SEA (vs. LAR)
Seattle’s newest running back on the carousel has seen 31 carries since taking the job, and the Rams are giving up the second-most rushing yards in the league. But Seattle tends to spread out its offense so much that it’s hard to depend on him and the Seahawks are all about Russell Wilson.
Lamar Miller, HOU (at JAC)
Even averaging more than 15 touches a game, Miller hasn’t topped 70 rushing yards since Week 5, and has only topped that mark twice this season. Jacksonville is near the bottom of the rankings in rushing defense, but will the Texans even be in a position where they can run the ball or will they be busy playing from behind? This could lead to a few catches from Miller, but it seems like he’s safer as an RB3/flex play this week.
Matt Forte, NYJ (at NO)
As you can imagine, with the loss of Josh McCown, the fantasy outlook for any Jets has changed drastically. Bryce Petty (or Christian Hackenberg for that matter) doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence at QB. This week Forte and the Jets go up against a Saints team that needs to win to solidify their playoff standing, which means a negative game script and very few touches for Forte, who isn’t even 100 percent healthy in the first place.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Doug Martin, TB (vs. ATL, Mon.)
Remember back to your fantasy draft when you took Martin in the sixth round thinking, “what a steal! A great starting running back in the sixth round? I can’t wait until he comes back from suspension.” Well, Martin has been a dud. He may have started in last week's loss to the Lions, but a lost fumble cost him carries down the stretch and might result in a lesser workload against the Falcons on Monday night Peyton Barber has been the best back in Tampa Bay over the last three weeks regardless, so Martin will be sharing touches in some fashion, and probably will end up on the wrong end of the arrangement.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.