Play time is over, folks. It’s time to get serious. Well, as serious as you can get playing fantasy football.
In many leagues, Week 14 either marks the last week of the fantasy football regular season or the first week of the playoffs. Either way, it’s a must-win matchup in your quest to win that weird new trophy your commissioner decided to introduce last season.
Fortunately for many owners, an alarming number of NFL teams still are in the playoff hunt, which means a decreased risk of starters seeing limited playing time down the stretch. That also means it’s up to you to pick the right matchups in a week that features 30 teams in action Sunday and Monday, the highest total since Week 3.
As always, the key to success is finding the best matchups, but there are a few players in the conversation this week whose recent play makes them an obvious start (or sit) regardless of opponent.
Here’s who we think are the best and worst options in a crucial week for fantasy owners.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks: Wilson isn’t the flashiest fantasy quarterback, but he hasn’t scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in standard leagues all season. That consistency is valuable, and with a date against the Philadelphia Eagles coming up, he could be in for another solid week.
C.J. Anderson, Running Back, Denver Broncos: Anderson has a brutal matchup in the Buffalo Bills, but at this point, the matchup is irrelevant. He’s been a monster in recent weeks, and the Broncos seem committed to feeding him the ball no matter what. That means you should start him no matter what.
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Cleveland Browns: Crowell struggled against the nasty Bills run defense last week, but his owners will be rewarded with a matchup against a soft Indianapolis Colts front this weekend. You’ll need to monitor his health after an injury last week, but if he’s good to go, fire him up.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Landry has come on strong, but Wallace still is Ryan Tannehill’s No. 1 option, and he should see plenty of targets against a Baltimore Ravens team that’s been very good against the run and very bad against the pass.
Kenny Stills, Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints: Brandin Cooks’ absence and the attention drawn by Jimmy Graham has allowed Stills to thrive over the last two weeks. There’s a great chance that trend continues at home against a mediocre Carolina Panthers secondary.
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles: Sanchez has performed well regardless of the matchup recently, but this one might be hard to overcome. The Seahawks have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in standard leagues this season and have held the last three QBs they’ve faced to fewer than 10 fantasy points.
Lamar Miller, Running Back, Dolphins: A fourth-quarter touchdown saved Miller from another disappointing outing Monday night, and now he has the pleasure of facing the Ravens, who have been the stingiest defense against opposing fantasy backs this season. There are plenty of better options out there.
Shane Vereen, Running Back, New England Patriots: Once a versatile dual-threat back, Vereen’s role has been reduced to a third-down receiving back in New England’s offense. His matchup against the San Diego Chargers isn’t terrible, but unless you’re in a PPR league, you should look elsewhere at running back.
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills: Week 7. That’s the last time Watkins caught more than four passes in a game, and it’s not looking good for the rookie against the Denver Broncos’ talented secondary. If you have depth at wide receiver, put Watkins at the bottom of your list.
Bills defense: It doesn’t matter that Buffalo trails only the Philadelphia Eagles as the top-scoring fantasy defense this season. The Bills play the Denver Broncos on Sunday, who have yielded a total of 28 fantasy points to opposing defenses in standard leagues to date. That’s 2.3 points per game.
Have a fantasy/NFL question for Darren? Send it to him via Twitter at @darren_hartwell
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