It’s Week 14 and for many the fantasy playoffs are nigh! Lineup decisions are even more critical with every game a win-or-go-home situation. So what should you do at wide receiver and tight end? Well first let’s check to see how some of my advice for Week 13 turned out before moving on to the business at hand.
Start Brandon Marshall (19.1 fantasy points) – Back-to-back weeks with exactly 131 receiving yards and at least one touchdown.
Start Scott Chandler (12.1 FP) – Might have sounded like a no-brainer, but at least Chandler produced a touchdown.
Sit Antonio Gates (5 FP) – The entire Chargers’ offense couldn’t get anything going against the Broncos.
Start T.Y. Hilton (3.6 FP) – Matt Hasselbeck struggled all game against the Steelers and Hilton was an afterthought.
Sit Sammy Watkins (16.9 FP) – That’s back-to-back 100-yard receiving games with at least one touchdown.
Sit Brandin Cooks (16.4 FP) – Whoever thought that Cooks would produce numbers like that against super corner Josh Norman?
START THESE WRs...
Brandon Marshall, NYJ (vs. TEN)
Can you believe that the Chicago Bears basically gave Marshall to the New York Jets for nothing? Actually, it was for a sixth-round pick but you get my point. Marshall has played like his old self again this year, establishing himself as an elite WR1. Marshall has scored a touchdown in five straight games and also is coming off back-to-back games with 131 receiving yards. This week the Jets play host to the lowly Tennessee Titans, who just allowed the Jaguars’ Allen Robinson to catch three TD passes. You can grab your Sharpie and permanently right down Marshall for another 100-yard receiving game with at least one touchdown this week.
Doug Baldwin, SEA (at BAL)
If Russell Wilson is the hottest fantasy quarterback in the NFL right now, it would make sense that Baldwin is the hottest fantasy wide receiver. The two of them are two peas in a pod right now. Baldwin has scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games, thanks in large part to catching six TDs in those four games. He should continue to see an increase in targets with Jimmy Graham out for the season, as Seattle heads out on the road to face a Baltimore pass defense that doesn't figure to pose a huge problem for the Seahawks’ suddenly rejuvenated passing game. The Ravens are allowing the third-most fantasy points to WRs this season, so look for the Wilson-to-Baldwin combo to be good for another 100-yard game with at least one touchdown this week.
Sammy Watkins, BUF (at PHI)
Oh Watkins how you can be such a tease! One week he can score 22.8 fantasy points, and then follow that up with two weeks where he scores 1.3 and 3.9 fantasy points, promptly forcing fantasy owners to bench him. Then Watkins goes out and scores 27.8 fantasy points two weeks ago when most people had him on their bench. Well, hopefully people caught on and started Watkins last week as he was good for 16.9 fantasy points thanks to 109 receiving yards and one touchdown. It seems that he and Tyrod Taylor are finally on the same page and just when you think you can’t depend on Watkins, he becomes a must-start. Especially this week as the Bills travel to Philly to play an Eagles defense that has given up the most fantasy points to WRs on the season. Watkins should have no problem getting another 100 yards and a score in this one.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Tyler Lockett, SEA (at BAL)
It’s all about Doug Baldwin right now when the Seahawks get in the red zone, but remember that Lockett had two scores in Week 11 against San Francisco, and he could easily be the apple of Russell Wilson’s eye this week against Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed multiple wide receiver scores in more than half of their games this year, and Malcom Floyd, Travis Benjamin, Torrey Smith, and DeVante Parker have all scored on deep balls against them. Lockett is probably the target if Russell takes any downfield shots this week.
SIT THESE WRs...
T.Y. Hilton, IND (at JAC)
It all comes down to whether or not you can stomach starting Hilton with Matt Hasselbeck as his quarterback. Two weeks ago, Hilton scored 21.5 fantasy points thanks to 95 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but in Week 11 he scored 2.1 fantasy points and just last week Hilton scored a pathetic 3.6 against the Steelers. This week the Colts continue to fight for their playoff lives in a must-win game against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. You would think that this would be a great matchup for Hilton, but with this being the fantasy playoffs and all, you need to put your best lineup out there, which means leaving Hilton out of it.
Amari Cooper, OAK (at DEN)
Even the best of the best wide receivers are only as good as their quarterback and right now Derek Carr isn’t playing like he did in the first half of the season, which is causing Cooper’s numbers to take a big hit. Cooper hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 9 and has only two 100-yard receiving games in his last nine games. This week is a terrible matchup for both Carr and Cooper, as they go up against the best pass defense in football in the Denver Broncos. The last time Cooper played the Broncos was at home in Week 5 and he scored 4.9 fantasy points. This week Cooper won’t be able to do much better and you should look for better options.
Randall Cobb, GB (vs. DAL)
Did you know that Cobb is the No. 74 fantasy wide receiver? Not exactly what you were hoping for when you drafted him in the second or third round. Cobb has been fantasy irrelevant all season and has only scored 10 or more fantasy points once in his last nine games. With 75 percent of the season now in the books, Cobb is on pace for a thoroughly underwhelming 76-875-8. He's averaging just 11.5 yards per catch after posting a 14.1 mark in 2014. Cobb is not earning his four-year, $40 million contract. This week the Packers host the Dallas Cowboys, who actually have an excellent pass defense as they are currently allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to WRs on the year. Look for yet another dud from Cobb this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Julio Jones, ATL (at CAR)
It seems blasphemous to even consider sitting Jones and of course no one is going to sit him. But while Jones is an elite talent he has two things going against him in a week that you really need him because it’s fantasy playoff time. First he has Matt Ryan playing the worst football of his career and not even looking Jones’ way in the red zone anymore and secondly, the Falcons have lost five games in a row and this week play the undefeated Carolina Panthers on the road. That means that Jones is going to be lined up against uber-cover corner Josh Norman all game. Hopefully you don’t need Jones to have a big game to help win your matchup this week.
START THESE TEs...
Scott Chandler, NE (at HOU)
This is assuming that the Patriots don’t rush Rob Gronkowski back this week, even though they lost their second game in a row last week and are now sitting behind the Bengals and Broncos in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye. Chandler has found the end zone in consecutive games and should continue to be heavily targeted in the absence of Gronkowski. This week Chandler will face a Houston Texans defense that allowed three passing scores in its last contest and you know that Tom Brady is going to be out for blood this week after the way he played last week against the Eagles. Look for Chandler to add another touchdown to his stat sheet.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (vs. NO)
It’s not surprising Seferian-Jenkins was limited in his first game action since Week 2, yet his involvement in the passing game was promising despite the limited snaps. ASJ was second on the team with six targets, and he could have had a nice fantasy day if not for dropping a likely touchdown catch. Seferian-Jenkins should become more involved in the offense moving forward and has shown this season he can be a fantasy factor when healthy. This week ASJ and the rest of the Buccaneers get a great matchup against the pitiful New Orleans Saints defense, which is currently giving up the most fantasy points to TEs. Look for ASJ to steal the tight end spotlight this week.
Delanie Walker, TEN (at NYJ)
With Rob Gronkowski currently out with injury, Walker has replaced him as the game’s best tight end. It’s true – just look at his numbers. On the year he has 67 receptions for 800 yards and four touchdowns. In his last three weeks alone, he’s averaging seven catches for 95 yards – talk about consistency. This week the Titans travel to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets. The Jets are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, but Marcus Mariota has shown a willingness to throw the ball to Walker no matter what. If the Titans are going to have any chance of leaving MetLife Stadium with a win, they’re going to need to use Walker a lot.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Julius Thomas, JAC (vs. IND)
With Allen Hurns (concussion) out, Thomas' role didn't grow very much as a pass catcher, as the Jaguars instead opted to force-feed the ball to Allen Robinson, who scored three touchdowns last week. Thomas still found the end zone, however, scoring from nine yards out. Thomas has now visited pay dirt in three straight games. This week the Jaguars play host to the Indianapolis Colts and their defense that is currently allowing the 12th-most fantasy points to tight ends. Thomas should be good for another touchdown this week.
SIT THESE TEs...
Antonio Gates, SD (at KC)
Antonio Gates secured 6-of-9 targets for 50 yards in the Chargers' Week 13 loss to the Broncos. He was the lone San Diego pass catcher to finish above 30 yards in a game where the Chargers' offense was wholly dysfunctional. The good news is Gates appeared to play more than he has the past two weeks, when his snap rates were both below 50 percent. Gates is in for another tough day at the office this week against the Chiefs, who held Gates to six yards on three targets in Week 11. The Chiefs’ defense is on fire, so Gates will probably end up with similar numbers once again.
Ben Watson, NO (at TB)
Watson has posted six or fewer fantasy points in four of his last six games with just two scores in that time. If that weren't enough to keep him benched, the veteran also has a tough road matchup against the Buccaneers. Their defense has allowed an average of 5.80 fantasy points per game to tight ends in the last four weeks. Throw in the fact that Drew Brees has really struggled as of late in road games and you’re way better off starting someone like Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Scott Chandler this week, if you can grab them.
Jason Witten, DAL (at GB)
Witten just became the 12th player to ever record 1,000 reception and only the second tight end to do so, joining Tony Gonzalez in this exclusive club. That’s the good news; the bad news is that Witten once again scored fewer than five fantasy points. That makes it six weeks in a row where Witten has failed to score more than five fantasy points. Even though this week’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers is a good one for tight ends, it’s not for Witten. Not with Matt Cassel throwing him the ball.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Gary Barnidge, CLE (vs. SF)
Barnidge has been one of fantasy football’s biggest surprises this season but he really does miss Josh McCown throwing him the ball. He and McCown were on fire for the first half and now with McCown out for the year and Johnny Manziel set to return as the Browns’ starting quarterback, you really have no idea what you’re going to get out of Barnidge. While there isn’t a long track record for the Manziel-to-Barnidge combo, you can imagine that Manziel is going to struggle with rust this week even against the San Fransisco 49ers, who are actually playing better defense right now that anyone thought they would. Don’t expect big numbers for Barnidge this week.
— 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.