We begin peering ahead to Week 14, getting you set in advance for the first round of your Fantasy playoffs or positioning your team for a certain key matchup no matter what your league setup is. Here are some tips to help you navigate the waiver wire and get comfortable locking your starters in. We look at the upcoming slate from pure scouting and strategic perspectives to give you an extra advantage over the opposition.
-Marcus Mariota has become a very good Fantasy QB to this point, as he has taken advantage of some very friendly matchups. But Denver’s secondary is notoriously good and they have been much more vulnerable to the running game. Tennessee has to play to their strength and heavily utilize DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Mariota has been efficient and he won’t hurt you this week, but there is not much upside and he definitely is not a Top 10 Fantasy starter. You can definitely find better options, including Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco.
-The return of Jeremy Maclin gives the Chiefs more diversity in their passing game, but also concerns owners of breakout WR Tyreek Hill. Against the Raiders, though, Hill is still going to have big play chances and should still be started with confidence as a WR3. Maclin is more of a chain mover, and Hill can complement him with his downfield playmaking skills.
-The Eagles’ pass defense has been crumbling lately, and that is good news for Washington after a loss at Arizona. But the Eagles will likely try to slow things down, try to dominate time of possession and give their defense a chance to breathe and even play from ahead. Ryan Mathews may be able to return this week and should play a significant role even if he shares some touches and will score at least once. Carson Wentz will continue to rely on Zach Ertz a lot and he is a strong Week 14 start.
-Carolina looked listless for the most part at Seattle, and returns home to a play out the string affair against the Chargers. Ted Ginn Jr. is the one guy definitely still playing with some intensity, and he could be a free agent in some leagues. Kelvin Benjamin is not looking good, and Ron Rivera has indicated health may be a lingering issue. Greg Olsen has been frustrating. If Cam Newton wants to save some face this week, he will continue to get the ball to Ginn. Bid heartily on him if you still need some receiving help. If you have, say 20 dollars left in a 100 dollar cap, I would bid at least 14 dollars on him.
-The Browns seem like an obviously favorable matchup for the Bengals, who bounced back nicely against the Eagles last week. Cleveland is going to come to play after a bye week and will be highly motivated to get their first win. Look for a lot of Isaiah Crowell against a Bengals run defense that has been easy to run on overall this year. The Browns don’t want to put a lot of pressure on a returning Robert Griffin III. Crowell is a sneaky Week 14 start who can pay off nicely in your flex slot.
– Lamar Miller is banged up and Houston does not have much behind him to take advantage of the matchup against the Colts’ run defense. You may want to bench DeAndre Hopkins again, as he cannot be trusted in the Fantasy playoffs. The Texans should play with a lot of intensity, though, on defense in a key AFC South showdown, and that could push the game to a lower score. Don’t chase Week 13 with your Indianapolis players. Dwayne Allen may be a letdown, so don’t spend too heavily on him in free agency. Andrew Luck may be good for more than one TD pass, but don’t expect huge yardage totals.
-You may be tempted to start the 49ers defense with Bryce Petty at QB for the Jets. But you cannot have confidence in the Niners regardless of matchup. The 49ers’ defense has a total of nine points on ESPN for the entire season. They have three interceptions in their last 10 games and have more than one sack in a game just once in 2016. You want turnovers and sacks from your defense, and despite the matchup vs. Petty, it’s way too risky a move to use them in the Fantasy postseason.
-The loss of Earl Thomas may change the way the Seahawks play defense on the back end, and Aaron Rodgers will certainly test them downfield this week. Look for some quick hitters to Randall Cobb to bring the coverage up before he lets it loose deep. Cobb is a good WR3 play for PPR purposes. Bid a decent amount on Tyler Lockett this week, too, as he is healthy and a multi-dimensional threat who will produce in a high scoring affair at Lambeau. If you have 20 dollars left, 13 should be adequate to secure him.