This is the Week 14 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding D/ST’s). I will list options from each position group (excluding K’s). As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.
*Keep in mind that New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski and Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster are both suspended this week. Great timing, right?*
With the season inching closer to the playoffs and decisions being more crucial, I am going to be taking more questions regarding matchups and start/sits than hard-lining five “Fire” options each week. Be sure to hit me up on my Facebook or Twitter so I can answer your lineup questions on my weekly Q&A videos.
Drew Brees @ Atlanta Falcons (16th | 17.2 FPPG) — Because of New Orleans’ success on the ground, Brees hasn’t had to be the Brees of old this season. However, he always seems to ball against Atlanta. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in his last six games against them. You have to go back to 2013 to find the last time that he didn’t go over 300 against the Falcons. He’s also got a 9:5 TD-to-INT ratio in that time.
Philip Rivers vs. Washington Redskins (19th | 18.1 FPPG) — Rivers has been on a roll lately, and he gets another good matchup this week. In the last two weeks, he’s averaging 389.0 passing YPG, has 4 TD’s and no INT’s.
Derek Carr @ Kansas City Chiefs (22nd | 18.4 FPPG) — This was already a great matchup for Carr before the Chiefs announced that they suspended their top corner, Marcus Peters, for this game. When the Raiders and Chiefs squared-off in Week 7, Carr threw for 417 yards, 3 TD’s and no INT’s.
Kirk Cousins @ Los Angeles Chargers (5th | 14.0 FPPG) — Trying to count on Cousins and the Redskins offense in fantasy is like trying to count on a 10-day weather forecast in the Midwest. Cousins threw for 649 yards, 4 TD’s and 1 INT in bad matchups against the Vikings and Saints in Weeks 10 and 11. Then, he followed those up with 493 yards, 4 TD’s and 3 INT’s in good matchups with the Giants and Cowboys in Weeks 12 and 13. This is a bad matchup against a team with a great pass rush, so I’m not banking on Cousins this week,
Jacoby Brissett @ Buffalo Bills (8th | 14.7 FPPG) — Brissett is strictly matchup-dependent right now, even in Super-Flex leagues. He’s scored a grand total of approximately 20 fantasy points in the last two weeks. The Bills are banged-up but they still rank eighth against QB’s and have the fifth-most INT’s (13).
Melvin Gordon vs. Washington Redskins (23rd | 24.5 FPPG) — Gordon isn’t necessarily racking-up the yardage this year (89.8 total YPG), but he does have 9 total TD’s. This is a solid matchup against a defense that’s allowed four RB’s to run for over 100 yards and has allowed 9 TD’s to the position.
Dion Lewis/Rex Burkhead @ Miami Dolphins (24th | 24.6 FPPG) — This duo has been on a tear lately, and Miami’s defense is a vulnerable victim. In Lewis’ last eight games, he’s averaging 13.8 touches for 74.9 YPG and has scored 3 times. In Burkhead’s last five games, he’s averaging 12.6 touches for 67.8 YPG and has scored 5 times. The Patriots and Dolphins played two weeks ago and Lewis and Burkhead combined for 166 yards and 2 TD’s.
Frank Gore @ Buffalo Bills (32nd | 28.4 FPPG) — The Bills defense has been getting blasted by RB’s lately, giving up 161.8 YPG and 11 TD’s to the position in the last five weeks alone. Gore averages 16.2 touches for 66.8 YPG, and he is still looking for his first 100-yard game of the season. This could be it. This week is also a candidate to be the week that Gore’s teammate Marlon Mack breaks out.
Jay Ajayi @ Los Angeles Rams (30th | 27.2 FPPG) — The matchup looks appealing, but this is a bit risky for the playoffs. Since being traded to Philadelphia, the most that Ajayi has touched the ball is 12 times. His highest yardage output was 101, which is great but was because of a 71-yard run. Ajayi is averaging 64.3 total YPG, has only scored 1 TD and has to split time with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement. It doesn’t look promising beyond the matchup.
Golden Tate/Marvin Jones Jr. @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32nd | 41.6 FPPG) — Tate’s a good play in good matchups like this one. He averages 5.9 catches (7.8 targets) for 63.9 YPG. Jones scared me earlier in the season because he fell off the face of the earth following a four-game hot streak to start the 2016 season. However, he’s been producing pretty consistently since about Week 6 this year. Since that time, he’s averaging 4.9 catches (9.0 targets) for 91.0 YPG and has scored 6 times.
Michael Crabtree @ Kansas City Chiefs (31st | 38.7 FPPG) — The Jets’ duo of Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse KILLED the Chiefs last week, combining for 17 catches and 264 yards. As I already mentioned, Peters is out this week for Kansas City. Crabtree and teammate Amari Cooper combined for 14 catches for 234 yards and 3 TD’s against the Chiefs in Week 7.
Josh Gordon vs. Green Bay Packers (29th | 36.4 FPPG) — Gordon made his debut last week against Casey Hayward and a tough Chargers defense, and he did not disappoint. Gordon caught 4-of-11 targets for 85 yards. The Packers are among the worst D/ST’s against WR’s, so Gordon may have an even bigger performance this week. Plus, I like this stat from JJ Zachariason a great deal.
Jarvis Landry vs. New England Patriots (28th | 35.7 FPPG) — Landry is the only player in the NFL with 5-plus catches in every game this year, so right off the bat, he’s a must in PPR leagues. The Patriots are a good matchup for a guy who averages 6.7 catches (10.2 targets) for 58.3 YPG. New England can’t afford to give Landry too much attention either, as Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker can burn them just as easily.
Doug Baldwin @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1st | 21.9 FPPG) — Starting WR’s against the Jaguars is a bad time.
Devin Funchess vs. Minnesota Vikings (15th | 31.2 FPPG) — Funchess has done a great job in his developing role as Carolina’s WR1, averaging 5.3 catches (8.3 targets) for 86.5 YPG and scoring 3 TD’s in the four games since the Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin. However, Funchess draws a tough matchup against CB Xavier Rhodes this week. It’s usually safer to bet on the side of Rhodes.
Hunter Henry vs. Washington Redskins (28th | 15.5 FPPG) — Henry’s last two games have been good matchups and he’s answered the call, totaling 12 catches (14 targets) for 157 yards and 1 TD. This week is another good matchup against the Redskins, who give up the fifth-most FPPG to TE’s.
Jason Witten @ New York Giants (32nd | 17.3 FPPG) — The Giants are the worst defense in the league against TE’s, and the last time the Cowboys and Giants played, Witten caught 7-of-9 targets for 59 yards and 1 TD.
Jack Doyle @ Buffalo Bills (23rd | 12.8 FPPG) — This is a good matchup for Doyle, and he typically thrives in even favorable matchups. He has had seven games this year with at least 5 catches. He leads the Colts in both receptions (62) and targets (81), so he’s almost always a safe bet in PPR leagues.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ Denver Broncos (30th | 16.1 FPPG) — It’s tough to rely on Seferian-Jenkins in the fantasy playoffs, but I’m looking at two points. First, the Broncos give up the third-most FPPG to TE’s. Next, he is a popular target in the red zone for Josh McCown. Seferian-Jenkins has been targeted 8 times inside opponents’ 10-yard line — fifth-most in the league and third among TE’s.
Cameron Brate vs. Detroit Lions (22nd | 12.5 FPPG) — With Jameis Winston back, Brate has fantasy value again. He only caught 2 balls last week in Winston’s first game back, but they both went for TD’s.
Kyle Rudolph @ Carolina Panthers (1st | 8.9 FPPG) — This is solely based on the fact that Carolina is the stingiest D/ST against TE’s. Rudolph has an outside chance of scoring if Case Keenum finds him near the goal line, but this is not a safe bet by any means.
Vernon Davis @ Los Angeles Chargers (6th | 10.0 FPPG) — Davis hasn’t done squat in the last two games, both good matchups. He totaled 2 catches (2 targets) for 15 yards against the Giants and Cowboys. He was averaging 64.3 YPG in the eight games beforehand, which certainly made matters worse.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens (14th | 6.6 FPPG) — The Steelers D/ST has scored at least 9.0 fantasy points in seven matchups this year, and this is a decent one. They scored 15.0 against the Ravens back in Week 4. While missing Ryan Shazier certainly doesn’t help, expect the defense to rally around their missing star.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears (28th | 10.0 FPPG) — Mitchell Trubisky just isn’t to the point yet where he can take over a game, and he is still very much a game-manager under John Fox. As long as the Bengals don’t allow Jordan Howard to stomp them, they should be fine.
Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns (31st | 12.7 FPPG) — The Browns give up the second-most FPPG to D/ST’s because DeShone Kizer has been a turnover machine. The Browns have also allowed the third-most sacks.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Washington Redskins (25th | 8.8 FPPG) — The Chargers have made a late-season push and now sit as D/ST4, just like last year. In the last four games, they have 9 sacks, 12 takeaways and 3 defensive TD’s. The Redskins have been sacked the seventh-most times in the league and have turned the ball over the fourth-most.
Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars (11th | 4.8 FPPG) — This scenario does not set up well for Seattle’s defense. They have to travel across the country from the Pacific Northwest down to the Coastal Southeast and take on a budding Jaguars offense. Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is capable of having success against any defense, and QB Blake Bortles has been spreading the ball around to new-found weapons Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, along with established playmaker Marqise Lee. The Jaguars D/ST can create their own offense as well.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams (4th | 1.8 FPPG) — The Rams offense can beat you in several different ways, but the most critical thing to stop is RB Todd Gurley. He averages 125.2 total YPG and has scored 11 TD’s. There has only been one game this year where, if Gurley didn’t have 100 total yards that he didn’t at least have a TD. QB Jared Goff has also developed leaps and bounds this season, averaging 265.3 passing YPG with a 20:6 TD-to-INT ratio.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10th | 4.6 FPPG) — The Ravens D/ST has been awesome this season, but I’m never going to recommend starting a D/ST against an offense that has Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, especially in the fantasy playoffs. The Ravens may get to Ben Roethlisberger a couple of time and even force a turnover or two, but that offense can blow up on anybody.