Welcome to the Week 14 starts and sits! It’s playoff time and I’ve done my best to distill the talent pool for you. If your key player is not covered here, check out our full lineup rankings over at Rotobahn or participate in our Sunday morning chat, where I will answer all of your remaining lineup questions. Best of luck to all this week!
Josh McCown, Bears vs. Cowboys
He’s far better than most folks, including us, ever expected. He will get at least one more start, and that start comes at home vs. a struggling Dallas defense that has been giving up plenty of fantasy points. I know it’s tough starting a journeyman in the playoffs, but if you are jammed with an injury to a guy like Aaron Rodgers, McCown may be the bridge to Rodgers and an appearance in the semifinals next week. Do not be afraid to play McCown.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Dolphins
It’s not a great week for quarterbacks, but Big Ben should give you some solid production in a home matchup against a beatable opponent. The big game is a possibility, but it’s the solid floor that I find most appealing. He’s a good option in any league.
Philip Rivers, Chargers at Giants
Rivers is a safe option this week. You beat the Giants by throwing the ball, so expect a few scores and solid yardage and perhaps a big game if New York can score enough points to push the San Diego offense for four quarters. Rivers has had some mediocre games but no killers. He should come in somewhere between 16-30 points this week in standard scoring.
Alex Smith, Chiefs at Redskins
He’s been better for fantasy than I ever thought he’d be. It’s pretty amazing when you consider how poor Kansas City’s downfield passing game is. Smith makes plays every week with his feet and his arm, and his receivers get yards after the catch, especially Jamaal Charles. Smith can start for you this week if you need him, and he’ll most likely fare well against a soft Redskins defense.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks at 49ers
Curse the schedule-maker! Is there anything worse than having your QB1 playing at San Francisco during wild card week? Here’s the skinny on Wilson: You can play him, but you should also consider other options. Based on what we saw last week when St. Louis played San Francisco, he has a chance, because Kellen Clemens missed a lot of throws — throws that Wilson will not miss. So Wilson can be played, just be realistic with your expectations. If he gets you 20 points in standard leagues, you did well.
Matt McGloin, Raiders at Jets
No way do I want to rely on the Oakland offense in Week 14 with my season on the line. The Jets are a mediocre team, but it’s not because they can’t play defense. McGloin could be in for a rough day. He’s way too risky to play.
Kellen Clemens, Rams at Cardinals
The matchup is tough, and Clemens, though surprisingly serviceable, lacks the upside to be your fantasy quarterback in a playoff game. I’ve yet to see a waiver wire that lacks a better option for Week 14.
Shane Vereen, Patriots vs. Browns
He’s still unowned in 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which underscores how clueless a lot of people are. Vereen is a lock starter in our view. He needs to be active unless you are simply loaded at tailback.
C.J. Spiller, Bills at Buccaneers
He’s finally healthy and ready to help you, as we saw last week. Still, I see that Spiller is benched in 38 percent of CBS leagues. That number is too high. Spiller is an RB2 in any league size this week.
Chris Johnson, Titans at Broncos
Johnson is a solid start this week, so stick with him in a tougher matchup. Denver, as good as their run defense can be, has yielded a lot of rushing scores in 2013. Johnson has enough upside to be a RB2 in all formats this week.
Danny Woodhead, Chargers vs. Giants
The Giants are more powerful than fast in their front seven. My guess is that the Chargers deploy Woodhead often this week to match up with New York’s outside linebackers. He’s a nice option, especially in PPR formats.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals vs. Colts
His carries are up, and with freezing rain forecasted for Sunday in Cincinnati, the Law Firm could be in for another week of 20-plus carries. He’s certainly a viable flex option if not an RB2. Start him if you need him.
Chris Ivory, Jets vs. Raiders
He’s not a player that you want to play given the recent trials and tribulations of the Jets offense. That said, the Raiders can be had for big plays and the Jets are going to run the ball early and often. Ivory certainly is worth a look as a flex option, especially in standard scoring.
Willis McGahee, Browns at Patriots
He’s actually available in 86 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and he can play for you this week if you are hurting for an option. The Patriots have issues with all the injuries to their front seven, and McGahee should be the goal-line back. He makes a nice desperation heave this week.
Donald Brown, Colts at Bengals
He’s playable if you need him, but with bad weather on the docket, I worry about the Colts offense this week. The Bengals will win the battle at the line of scrimmage, and a total shutdown is not out of the question. Lower expectations, even though he is the lead back.
Torrey Smith, Ravens vs. Vikings
He’s been a little frustrating if you’ve been expecting big games, but do not even think about sitting him here. He has huge upside against the Vikings and is a borderline WR1 in 12-team leagues regardless of the scoring format. Just get him active.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals vs. Rams
Do not worry about the injury to Carson Palmer. It may prove to be nothing, but even if Palmer’s arm is compromised, the Cardinals can go to backup Drew Stanton and the offense should work just fine. Floyd is still a must-start option in all leagues.
Kendall Wright, Titans at Broncos
Wright is playing his best football as a pro, and we recommend sticking with him this week in all league sizes and scoring formats. He’ll get tons of single coverage, and the Broncos don’t have anybody to take him out.
Mike Wallace, Dolphins at Steelers
There’s some risk here as the Steelers could overcompensate to stop Wallace, but that’s really not defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s style, so I‘d look for Ike Taylor vs. Wallace and that should allow the former Steeler to get comfortable. Wallace certainly is worth the risk as a strong WR3 or light WR2.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers at Saints
While you cannot depend on LaFell, he rarely gets shut out, and he’s been in the end zone two out of the last three weeks. This is the kind of game he tends to do well in, and you can grab LaFell off of many waiver wires. The Cowboys’ Terrance Williams and the Bucs’ Tiquan Underwood are two other receivers I like this week for those of you in desperate situations and or in very large formats.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants at Chargers
No scores on the year, which makes his upside something not worth chasing. Nicks is not the WR1 that some thought he would be. At this point, he’s not even a WR3. He’s just a flex option in 12-team formats. Use him as something more and you are in risky territory.
Miles Austin, Cowboys at Bears
He’s a name and he’s a good player when everything’s going well, but he’s been less then healthy all year and the last two weeks have been disappointing to the point where I worry about the Cowboys pulling him for rookie Terrance Williams. Austin is not a risk worth taking this week unless you really have no choice. There still are at least 50 stronger options on the board.
Greg Olsen, Panthers at Saints
He’s been playing too well to bench, and this game will have plenty of offense. The big tight end is now Cam Newton’s favored target in the red zone. He’s a nice option this week in any league.
Jordan Cameron, Browns at Patriots
He’s been a bit underwhelming since his early season breakout, but we like him here against a Patriots defense that may be a bit preoccupied with Josh Gordon — for obvious reasons. Cameron is a viable play in all leagues.
Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. Chiefs
He’s no lock to play and it’s a bad matchup, but Reed will be fresh if he’s active, and the rookie has become a staple player for Robert Griffin III and the Washington offense. He is certainly worth a play in 12-team leagues if he’s ready, and we suspect he will be.
Jared Cook, Rams at Cardinals
He lit them up big time back in Week 1, and he still matches up well with Arizona’s safeties. Cook has solid scoring potential here as QB Kellen Clemens will be looking to throw away from Patrick Peterson. If you are hurting for an option, Cook can help you in 12-team leagues.
Ladarius Green, Chargers vs. Giants
Do you feel lucky? Green is an option to consider in large leagues if you want to make a play for upside. Green has a bust factor too because he’s new to being a regular, but he’s been targeted consistently over the last three weeks and he’s actually caught a ball in seven straight games. Green is a nice upside option in large formats. I’d rather play him than a player with limited upside like Brandon Pettigrew or Scott Chandler.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. Vikings
If Pitta plays, which is no given, he is a solid option in big leagues. If you’ve been getting smoked at tight end and have a weak option in your lineup, keep an eye on Pitta and start him if he gets the nod this week as we expect him to.
Mychal Rivera, Raiders at Jets
If you are desperate, this may be the player for you. While I see plenty of better options this week, they may be taken in your league. Rivera likely is not, and he gets a Jets defense that plays the tight end position like the Keystone Cops. If you need a desperation option this week, Rivers is my guy.
Rob Housler, Cardinals vs. Rams
I hate this matchup for him, and he’s been fading a bit the last two weeks. There’s also an issue with Carson Palmer’s elbow, and that’s a bit troubling for receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd. I’d expect them to double down on their studs if they have to play Drew Stanton at quarterback.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals vs. Colts
He’s a bit banged up, and it could end up being an ugly game. If you are looking to play a Bengals tight end this week, you probably want to play Jermaine Gresham.