Welcome to Week 14, the first week of the fantasy playoffs for many leagues. For the rest, it's likely the last week of the regular season. Either way, fantasy owners need to win.
Many of the matchups this week are tough, so start/sit decisions may not be as simple as they were in previous weeks. However, fantasy football is about trying to get the most points in any given week; sometimes start your studs is the best advice. Other times, play it safe is the best advice.
At the end of the column is the full disclosure, listing how well last week's picks performed. Please note 5 Up/5 Down column 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.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens, at home, in prime time. This is typically where Roethlisberger shines. The Ravens’ defense has been tough, but they will be without top cornerback Jimmy Smith. Last year, when the Steelers played the Ravens (also without Smith), Roethlisberger threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps fantasy owners remember Roethlisberger's game against the Ravens in 2014, where he threw six TD passes (for the second week in a row). Either way, Big Ben steps up for this divisional matchup and he should exceed his No. 13 ranking.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
After Joe Mixon exited the Week 13 game, Bernard stepped in and surprisingly looked good. He had 13 carries for 77 yards and added two receptions for 19 yards. It doesn't look like Mixon will be able to play in Week 14, putting Bernard in line for a big workload again. The Bengals play the Chicago Bears in Week 14. It's not a tough matchup, but the Bears have not allowed a 100-yard rushing game to an opposing running back yet this season. Bernard is ranked No. 30, but he should exceed that, assuming Mixon is out.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
In his 2017 debut, Gordon had four receptions for 85 yards. However, he also had 11 targets. Corey Coleman was a non-factor as DeShone Kizer only had eyes for Gordon. The Browns face the Green Bay Packers in Week 14, and this game actually has the potential to be a shootout. The Packers give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Expect Gordon to be a big part of this game and exceed his No. 19 ranking.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
With Ben Roethlisberger as an up, Antonio Brown as a clear must-start, Bryant also should get into the action. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been suspended for this game, and Bryant will take over as the clear No. 2. He's ranked No. 42, which seems way too low for the volume that he should see in Week 14. He's had four receptions for 40 yards in each of the past two games (he added a touchdown in Week 12). However, if some of Smith-Schuster's targets go his way, Bryant could have a big game.
Stephen Anderson, TE, Houston Texans
Some fantasy owners may ask, who? However, savvy owners know that Anderson stepped in after C.J. Fiedorowicz left Week 13 with a concussion (his second of the year). Fiedorowicz is now on injured reserve and the Texans are losing pass catchers left and right. Anderson had five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown in Week 13. He faces the San Francisco 49ers who have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends in their past six games. Anderson is ranked No. 17, but should finish higher than that.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson, after looking great at home vs. Philadelphia in Week 13, travels almost as far as possible across the country to Jacksonville to face the league's best defense. He's the No. 10-ranked quarterback, but it's going to be tough for him. Only two quarterbacks all season have scored more than one touchdown against the Jags. It's going to be hard to sit Wilson as a fantasy owner, but better options may be available.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette has a few factors against him this week; the first being that he faces the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. They have allowed a few big games, but not many. Fournette also has been playing hurt with a nagging ankle injury, limiting his workload. He did see 20 carries in Week 13, but T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory have been seeing a handful of carries. He's ranked No. 7, but Fournette will likely fall outside the top 10.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers 21
Despite being ranked No. 21, which is lower than he's normally ranked, McCaffrey still is on the "down" list. He faces the Minnesota Vikings, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Pass-catching backs have had more success against the Vikings (Buck Allen in Week 7 had eight receptions for 29 yards, which is decent in PPR formats). However, they have only allowed four touchdowns to opposing running backs. The matchup is what puts McCaffrey on this list for Week 14.
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Detroit Lions
The matchup against Tampa Bay is great for Jones and the Lions’ offense in general. However, the concern is Matthew Stafford's health. His throwing hand got stepped on last week and while nothing is broken, it's clearly bruised and likely quite painful. Stafford will likely play, but his effectiveness is in question. Also, if he's not able to throw as well or as accurately, the game script may not favor Jones. He's ranked No. 13, but may finish lower than that.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Full disclosure: Rudolph was on the "down" list last week and exceeded his ranking. However, he's here again. Rudolph is entirely touchdown-dependent and yes, he's scored three touchdowns in the past two weeks, but Carolina is a very tough matchup. The Panthers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. No tight end has had more than five receptions. Rudolph is ranked No. 9, but he should fall out of the top 10.
Full Disclosure for Week 13
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets (Ranked: 13, Actual: 2)
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins (Ranked: 23, Actual: 5)
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 23, Actual: 34)
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Chicago Bears (Ranked: 49, Actual: 36)
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders (Ranked: 5, Actual: not in top 50)
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (Ranked: 6, Actual: 5)
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (Ranked: 13, Actual: 40)
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 18, Actual: 47)
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (Ranked: 27, Actual: 37)
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings (Ranked: 11, Actual: 8)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.