The fantasy football playoffs are in sight, and with six teams on a bye, those Week 14 start/sit decisions are going to be extremely crucial in that push for the postseason. Using fantasy points allowed to the various positions, we look to identify some players that might be over or undervalued this week. Among those names are the likes of James Conner, Jeff Wilson Jr., Raheem Mostert, and James Cook.
This week, the focus will be mainly on start ’em options as opposed to sit ’ems. With six teams on a bye, fantasy managers are likely going to have to start the majority of relevant options on their roster and not have the luxury to sit players based on matchups. Nevertheless, there is one QB and one RB who the data suggests could be in for a tough outing this week.
Week 14 Fantasy Football Start ’ems
Generally, when considering start/sit options for the upcoming week, we try to consider players based on thresholds from ESPN in the previous week. Therefore, we aim only to select start ’em options who were in less than 40% of lineups the previous week.
While this article is primarily considering season-long leagues, it can also have benefits for Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues. The names listed here are players that fantasy managers can consider obtaining at value or fading this week.
Kirk Cousins, QB | MIN at DET
Things did not turn out quite as we expected when Trevor Lawrence faced off with the Detroit Lions last week. With the Lions having allowed an average of more than 30 fantasy points to opposing QBs in the previous three weeks, a 14.6-fantasy-point showing for Lawrence was underwhelming.
But that doesn’t stop fantasy managers from considering going back to that well this week, with Kirk Cousins as the streaming option against Detroit. The last time the Lions held an opposing QB to under 15 fantasy points — Aaron Rodgers in Week 9 — they gave up 39.38, 24.64, and 29.92 points, respectively, the following three weeks.
It’s worth noting that all three of those QBs rushed for at least one touchdown and contributed more than 10 fantasy points with their legs. However, the Lions have still struggled at times against passing games, so there’s a lot of scope for Cousins to have success in this game.
In their last matchup back in Week 3, Cousins threw for 260 yards and added two touchdowns, finishing with 18.3 fantasy points. That would be a solid return for a streamer in Week 14 with six teams on a bye.
Mac Jones, QB | NE @ ARI
With six teams off, there will be several questions in 14 and 16-team leagues over who can be a starting option for fantasy managers. Mac Jones is an option in the frame after he showed his potential against Minnesota on Thanksgiving.
The Arizona Cardinals have been a reasonably soft matchup for opposing QBs this season. Their 20.39 fantasy points allowed to the position is the third-highest allowed by a defense in 2022. Additionally, the Cardinals have allowed 20+ fantasy points to opposing QBs in five of the last six games.
Jones is not a player you would start with any confidence but in deeper leagues where options available are scarce, and fantasy managers may have no choice. If you’re without the likes of Aaron Rodgers or Justin Fields, Jones could be a useful placeholder for one week.
Jeff Wilson Jr./Raheem Mostert, RB | MIA @ LAC
Things could not have been much uglier for the Miami Dolphins RBs as they struggled against the San Francisco 49ers this week. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. combined for 33 yards on just 10 total opportunities, with FB Alec Ingold adding 15 receiving yards on three receptions.
Still, there should be an opportunity for the Dolphins to bounce back this week as they face the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season at 24.97 per game. They’ve allowed over 30 fantasy points to the position four times on the season and over 20 points in five of their last six games.
There’s enough potential upside in this matchup for Miami that both Wilson and Mostert could wind up as starting options in 12-team leagues. If you’re playing in Underdog Fantasy Best Ball leagues, then this pair could be intriguing to double up on in later rounds, with their values potentially taking a dip coming off the tough Week 13 performance.
James Cook, RB | BUF vs. NYJ
James Cook has at times teased fantasy managers this season, and that happened again on Thursday Night Football against the Patriots. Cook led the team in carries with 14 and also added six receptions on six targets.
He led Devin Singletary 20 to 15 in touches last week. It wasn’t just “garbage time” touches, either. Cook had eight carries and three targets in the first half, compared to five and one for Singletary.
The Jets had been a reasonably tough RB matchup early in the season. But in the last three weeks, they’ve allowed 20+ fantasy points to opposing backs in all three games. They are the only team to have that dubious honor during that timeframe, although the Cardinals did so in both of their games but had a bye in Week 13.
Cook is a risky player to start in a confusing backfield, especially with Josh Allen and Singletary seemingly the top two options around the goal line. He’s a better option in PPR leagues, where his pass-catching potential offers an intriguing floor.
Corey Davis, WR | NYJ @ BUF
After easing himself back into action in Week 12, Corey Davis had a nice game against the Vikings last week. He turned 10 targets into five receptions for 85 yards and his fourth double-digit return of the season in half-PPR scoring.
In Week 14, Davis goes up against the Bills, who had been reasonably vulnerable to opposing WRs in recent weeks. Prior to their game against the Patriots, the Bills had allowed an average of 42.33 fantasy points against opposing WRs. While the Patriots only officially managed 15.1 fantasy points from wide receivers, that does not include the 12.1 fantasy points by Marcus Jones, who is a DB that played WR and scored a touchdown.
Therefore, this Bills defense is one that opposing WRs can exploit, and the combination of Garrett Wilson and Davis could be in for big days. Davis is a risky starter, but with fewer options available, risks might be just what is called for in 14 and 16-team leagues.
Zay Jones, WR | JAX @ TEN
If you started Zay Jones last week, then you’re likely shaking your head at the thought of doing so again. However, there were some mitigating factors last week. Jones was limited all week in practice with a chest injury and looked a little undercooked during the game against Detroit.
Hopefully, he can get a full week of practice in and get back to where he left off in Weeks 10 and 12. The positive from last week is that Jones had seven targets, which was tied for second on the team with Evan Engram. He is clearly still a major part of the offense, and we can hopefully attribute the struggles last week to the chest issue hampering him.
The matchup this week is another good one with the Titans. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to opposing WRs this season (34.53), and they’re coming off allowing 55.4 fantasy points to the Eagles’ receivers. That is their third time allowing 30+ fantasy points to the position in the past five games and the eighth time in 12 games this season.
Week 14 Fantasy Football Sit ’ems
Tom Brady, QB | TB @ SF
In a week with so many teams on bye, it’s hard to find any players to recommend sitting with confidence. However, a matchup with the 49ers can be brutal, and Tom Brady has hardly been oozing confidence this year anyway. In the last four weeks, the 49ers have not allowed more than 12.1 fantasy points to a QB.
Included in that run are matchups against Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, and Tua Tagovailoa. Even last week, after giving up a 75-yard touchdown on the first play, they restricted Tua to just 13.8 fantasy points on the day before he left the game through injury.
In recent weeks, Brady has been a solid mid-level starting option, scoring over 15 fantasy points in each of the last four, but he’s a tough player to trust in Week 14.
James Conner, RB | ARI vs. NE
If you’ve followed along this season, you will know it does not take me a lot to be dubious when it comes to James Conner. Since returning from injury, Conner had managed to be a starting value option in all four games. However, this week he faces one of the toughest matchups for the position: the New England Patriots.
While the Patriots gave up over 25 fantasy points to the Bills’ RBs last week, they’ve been the second toughest on average this season. The last time New England gave up over 25 fantasy points to opposing RBs, they then held opponents to an average of under 10 points in the subsequent four games.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting benching Conner in all leagues. Starting options are limited this week. This is just a warning using the data that this could be a tough week for Conner. Therefore, you may look to play the matchups elsewhere, if possible, based on your roster construction.