For most fantasy leagues, Week 14 means the start of the playoffs. That means who you start and who you sit becomes even more important, as it could be the difference between winning that elusive championship and coming up just short.
Related: Playoff Schedule Analysis for QB, RB
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at last week’s start/sit advice for quarterbacks and defense/special teams (DST) before we turn our focus to Week 14.
Start Derek Carr (20.8 fantasy points) – He started out slow, but picked things up in the second half against the Bills.
Sit Cam Newton (12.48 FP) – Getting benched for not wearing a tie to start the game was an ominous sign of things to come.
Sit Ryan Tannehill (7.04 FP) – Tannehill had been hot coming into this week, but the Ravens’ defense at home is not to be messed with.
Start Colin Kaepernick (2.16 FP) – It appears that Kaepernick is only a warm-weather QB as he was awful in the snow in Chicago.
Sit Andy Dalton (22.18 FP) – The Eagles’ defense just isn’t any good on the road and Dalton lit them up for more than 300 yards last Sunday and he did this without A.J. Green.
START THESE QBS...
Jameis Winston, TB (vs. NO)
You want consistency and a high floor this week, and Winston has certainly provided that in his sophomore season. He’s averaging 18.3 fantasy points per game over his last seven, and has thrown 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions during that span. With that in mind, it would be pretty surprising to see Winston not top those numbers against the Saints considering they’ve allowed eight of the last 10 quarterbacks they’ve played to throw for multiple scores. Fire Winston up with confidence.
Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. CHI)
Stafford went off last week in New Orleans, posting his best stat line (23.8 fantasy points) since Week 6. I'd keep him active against the Bears, who have been better on defense but can still be vulnerable to good quarterbacks. Also, Stafford has scored no fewer than 16.5 fantasy points against Chicago in each of their last four meetings in Detroit.
Matt Ryan, ATL (at LA)
The Rams are giving up the seventh-most points to opposing QBs in the last two weeks, and are in the top 10 over the last month. Best of all, their offense can’t stay on the field. Matt Ryan could stumble into points, even with Julio Jones suffering from turf toe and having to make the long cross-country trek. It’s best you stick with Matty Ice in LA.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Andy Dalton, CIN (at CLE)
The Browns have actually held Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning to fewer than 200 passing yards in consecutive games, but the Steelers game featured 40 mph winds, while Manning threw three touchdowns to salvage his fantasy day. Even with those two games, the Browns remain 30th in fantasy points per game allowed to QBs and 30th in yards per pass attempt allowed. Dalton threw for 308 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks when these teams met in Week 7, and he should be able to replicate those numbers even if A.J. Green remains sidelined, as is expected.
SIT THESE QBs...
Dak Prescott, DAL (at NYG)
After five straight games of 20-plus fantasy points, Prescott looked painfully human against a tough Vikings defense on the road, and finished with just 139 passing yards on only 12 completions. Now set to face an even tougher pass defense that’s allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks while playing on the road again, I think the blueprint for the Cowboys to win in this matchup is the same as last week – play ball control and run it 30-plus times, leaving Prescott as more of a QB2 for this one.
Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. DEN)
Here's a list of quarterbacks to face the Broncos this season, along with their weekly finish at the position: Cam Newton (9th), Andrew Luck (27th), Andy Dalton (24th), Jameis Winston (21st), Matt Ryan (17th), Philip Rivers (24th), Brock Osweiler (30th), Rivers (17th), Derek Carr (26th), Drew Brees (7th), Alex Smith (27th), Blake Bortles (21st). That's a lot of good QBs, and just one top-10 finish since Newton's rushing-aided effort in Week 1. Mariota has been fantastic for the last two months, but it's difficult to fully trust him in a must-win matchup against the league's stingiest pass defense.
Cam Newton, CAR (vs. SD)
There’s something to be said about having as many fantasy players as possible with a horse in the race, and that’s increasingly apparent with a guy like Newton. When things are going great, he’s a fantasy MVP. When they aren’t… well you’re seeing it. He has topped 300 yards just once since Week 2, thrown for multiple scores just twice, and is hardly producing any fantasy points with his legs this season. I’m leaving him on the bench. The monster game just isn’t coming, and his floor scares me.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (at BUF)
Roethlisberger is tough to sit in the first week of the fantasy postseason, but I'd be wary of his track record on the road if you have a solid alternative. Since 2015, he has averaged just 14.4 fantasy points per game in road games played in the elements. The Bills have allowed just 15 touchdown passes this season as well, so Roethlisberger is no lock for success.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Minnesota Vikings (at JAC)
The Vikings DST has scored three or fewer fantasy points in four of its last six games, but don't let that keep you from starting Minnesota against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. Since Week 10, DSTs have scored the second-most fantasy points (12.5 ppg) when facing Jacksonville. This should be a big weekend for the current version of the Purple People-Eaters.
Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)
The Lions might not boast a top-10 fantasy DST, but a home matchup against Matt Barkley and the Bears makes them a very respectable option. Over the last four weeks, opposing DSTs have averaged a solid 9.5 fantasy points per game against Chicago's offense. The Lions DST is a free agent in most leagues.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
Over the last six games, the Eagles DST has scored a combined 16 fantasy points. That includes four games with three points or fewer. If that isn't enough to put this defense on ice, then consider an upcoming game against Kirk Cousins and a Redskins team that has not been very kind to opposing defenses for most of 2016.
Los Angeles Rams (vs. ATL)
Los Angeles isn't the place to be if you're looking for a solid fantasy DST this week, at least as it pertains to the home team. The Falcons have been a brutal matchup for opposing DSTs, as teams have averaged just 3.5 fantasy points against them. As a result, don't be surprised if the Rams falter on Sunday.
— 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.