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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 14 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: December 6, 2019, 1:36 am ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Deshaun Watsons, Mark Ingrams, and Chris Godwins of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups. Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean I advocate playing some of these guys over your weekly studs.


QUARTERBACK

 

Start of the Week: Aaron Rodgers vs. Redskins: The overall QB12 in fantasy points per game, Rodgers has been extremely hit or miss most weeks. He’s coming off a four-touchdown slaughtering of the Giants a week ago, finishing Week 13 as the QB1. It was Rodgers’ first multi-score game since Week 8. And his 243 passing yards were his most in that span. Rodgers has big booming fantasy weeks to his name in 2019, but he also has a bunch of low-end QB2 performances, so this isn’t the Rodgers of years past. However, this does look like another spot for Rodgers to pop off. Washington is 20th in pass-defense DVOA, 30th in opponent completion percentage, 23rd in opponent yards per attempt, 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed, 22nd in opponent QB rating, and 22nd in fantasy points allowed to the position. Despite the upset loss, Kyle Allen was able to work his way into a QB8 finish against the Skins last week. Sam Darnold was the QB7 with 293 yards and four scores in Week 11. Washington is 30th in opponent plays per game, and Green Bay’s implied team total of 27.25 points is third-highest of the week. Rodgers and Davante Adams should be very popular in daily fantasy as upper-echelon plays.

 

Starts

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick at Jets: Since reclaiming starting duties in Week 6, Fitzpatrick has produced some serious spiked weeks. He’s coming off 365 yards and three scores as the QB3 last week against the Eagles, a week after putting the QB5 day on the Browns. Fitzpatrick has multiple touchdowns in five of his last seven starts and said Wednesday that his “confidence is at an all time high.” It’s shown on the field with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki playing the best football of their careers. This is a #RevengeGame for Fitzpatrick after spending 2015-16 with the Jets, winning 10 games his first season before getting run out of two after the second. The Jets are a true pass-funnel defense, checking in at 21st in DVOA against the pass compared to No. 2 versus the run. Gang Green is 19th in passing yards allowed and 18th in passing touchdowns surrendered while checking in at 15th in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks. When these two teams met in Week 9, Fitzpatrick put up a flawless 288 yards and three touchdowns as the overall QB6. The Jets have faced one of the easiest QB schedules since then, seeing Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Derek Carr, and Andy Dalton. Fitzpatrick is better than all of them at this stage of their respective careers. Dolphins-Jets sports a 45-point total, seventh-highest of Week 14, and the Jets are 25th in opponent plays per game.

Carson Wentz vs. Giants: Wentz is coming off his biggest statistical game since Week 1. In Miami last week, Wentz put 310 yards and three touchdowns on the board en route to the QB4 finish. It was his first multi-touchdown and 300-yard game since Week 6. It’s mostly been a season to forget for Wentz, but the Eagles still somehow have a chance at the NFC East title. And Wentz gets another gorgeous fantasy draw Monday night. The G-Men are 30th in pass-defense DVOA, 25th in passing yards allowed, 27th in opponent completion rate, dead last in opponent yards per attempt, 25th in passing touchdowns allowed, 28th in opponent QB rating, and 27th in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks. Wentz gets the Giants twice over the final four weeks. New York allowed four touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers last week as the QB1. Mitchell Trubisky produced the QB9 day against the Giants in Week 12. And Sam Darnold was the QB7 in Week 10 ahead of the Giants’ Week 11 bye. Dak Prescott was the QB8 in Week 9. Matthew Stafford had 342 yards and three scores in Week 8 as the QB5. Five straight QBs have logged top-nine fantasy finishes against the G-Men. Wentz’s supporting cast is as healthy as it’s been in a long time with Alshon Jeffery coming off a 9-137-1 game to go along with Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Nelson Agholor. Jordan Howard should also gain clearance from his shoulder issue as soon as this week. Wentz is a high-floor play with the Eagles’ implied total of 27.5 points good enough for the second-highest of the week. Philly is No. 5 in offensive plays per game and will be playing up in pace against the Giants.

Kirk Cousins vs. Lions: Cousins has multiple touchdowns in four straight games and seven of his last eight. Since the calendar flipped to October in Week 5, Cousins is the overall QB7 in fantasy points per game. One of those was a 337-yard, four-touchdown flaming of the Lions in Week 7. Detroit is 26th in pass-defense DVOA, 30th in passing yards allowed, 25th in opponent yards per attempt, 28th in passing touchdowns given up, 31st in interceptions, 26th in opponent QB rating, and 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Cousins should be able to do whatever he wants against this defense that is also 29th in adjusted sack rate. Volume would be the only concern, but with Dalvin Cook nursing a sore shoulder and the Vikings needing wins, perhaps OC Kevin Stefanski will ride Cousins in this soft matchup. Mitchell Trubisky shredded the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving to the tune of the QB7 week. Dak Prescott went bonkers with 444 yards and three scores two weeks before that. And even Derek Carr got in on the fun with 289 yards and a pair of scores versus Detroit in Week 9. The Lions are 27th in opponent plays per game. Minnesota’s implied total of 28 points is the week’s highest.

 

Sits

 

Drew Brees vs. 49ers: The overall QB19 in fantasy points per game on the year, Brees’ days of a lock-and-load every-week fantasy starter are long gone. Last Thursday night, Brees managed just 184 yards and one touchdown on 30 attempts against the lowly Falcons. The Saints are winning with defense and their running game this season while Michael Thomas does work racking up easy catches. 49ers-Saints should be an exciting game, but the 44.5-point total is merely middle of the pack in what could end up being a defensive slugfest. The Niners are No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in passing yards allowed, No. 2 in opponent completion percentage, No. 1 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 4 in passing touchdowns allowed, No. 2 in opponent passer rating, and No. 2 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks. With LT Terron Armstead and LG Andrus Peat injured, Nick Bosa and company should wreak havoc, forcing Brees to get rid of the ball even quicker than normal. The best way to combat this pass defense is to finally get Alvin Kamara off the mat and into the end zone as the focus of the offense. Brees isn’t a quarterback I’d want in the opening week of the fantasy playoffs. The Niners are No. 4 in opponent plays per game, and the Saints play at the eighth-slowest offensive pace.

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Gardner Minshew vs. Chargers: Minshew replaced Nick Foles after halftime last week and has reclaimed the starting job a mere 2.5 games after giving it back to Foles. Foles is a statuesque pocket passer with zero movement skills as a sitting duck behind an offensive line that can’t protect him. Minshew minimizes pass-pro difficulties with quick feet and a sense of playmaking ability. His playing style is borderline erratic, leading to up-and-down box scores. In particular, Minshew has a serious fumbling issue with 12 on the year. He’s at least brings entertainment value to the table. The Chargers are a bottom-third 22nd in pass-defense DVOA, but they play so slow on offense and face the fewest plays per game on defense, leading to a No. 4 spot in passing yards allowed and No. 7 in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks. Minshew can mess around and toss multiple touchdowns and run in another, but he’s not a streamer I’d be wanting to myself to in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs. Chargers-Jaguars has a 43-point total, fifth-lowest of Week 14, and Jacksonville’s implied total of 20 is the week’s eighth-lowest.

Tom Brady vs. Chiefs: Brady finished as the QB5 last week in Houston, but it was easily the most garbage time-aided fantasy performance of Week 13. Brady was stuck below 200 yards into the second half when Houston jumped out to a multi-touchdown lead. Brady then picked apart Houston’s soft prevent defense with a bunch of dump-offs to James White and short hookups to Julian Edelman to finish with 326 yards and three scores. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how one gets there, and Brady got there in fantasy. However, Brady has looked cooked for much of 2019. Father Time is beating on Brady’s door. He has no weapons on the outside and zero arm strength. The Chiefs are No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA, 16th in passing yards allowed, 11th in opponent completion rate, 11th in opponent yards per attempt, 14th in passing touchdowns given up, and No. 8 in opponent QB rating. Kansas City’s major weakness is its run defense, checking in at 30th in DVOA and getting its teeth kicked in week in and week out. New England will have a chance to control the ball on the ground and try to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. This game’s 48.5-point total is the highest of the week, but Brady has been involved in plenty of high-total games all year, yet is still the QB15 in fantasy points per game. He’s a solid two-QB league option, but Brady has six 0-1 touchdown passing games over his last nine contests with just three 300-yard outings and four sub-250 yards days in that span.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.