(670 The Score) "Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em" is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.
My goal with this article is to provide you with a player to start who may not be the most obvious of starts and to share a player to sit whom you normally wouldn't consider shying away from regardless of matchup.
Let's get to it for Week 14.
START – Kyle Allen, Panthers (at Falcons) Hopefully this isn’t another trap game for Allen like the Nov. 17 matchup between these teams was for him. The Falcons have been playing better defensively of late, but they still rank 28th in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to opposing quarterbacks and 27th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric. This game is currently tied for the second highest over/under of the week at 47 points, and the game script should work in Allen’s favor as the Panthers are three-point underdogs. Allen and the Carolina offense will be looking to rebound from a poor showing against Washington last week as well as the 29-3 drubbing they took from Atlanta last time.
SIT – Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (at Saints) The 49ers are working their way through a brutal stretch of their schedule in which they’ve played the Seahawks, Packers and Ravens recently. Now, they get the Saints, who have the seventh-ranked defense in aFPA to opposing quarterbacks and ninth-ranked pass defense in DVOA. The 49ers still aren't completely healthy, and their running game hasn’t been what it was earlier in the season. That being said, Matt Breida should return and Raheem Mostert popped last week, so that might help the offense going into this matchup -- but not enough for me to start Garoppolo in the fantasy playoffs. With an implied team total of 21 points for the 49ers, I’d expect another hard-fought physical game. That isn’t a recipe for quarterback success in fantasy football.
START – Devonta Freeman, Falcons (vs. Panthers) Carolina is fresh off of allowing a 129-yard, two-touchdown performance to Derrius Guice and a 99-yard, one-score outing by Adrian Peterson in its loss to Washington. Freeman has been forgotten about due to his foot injury, but he had 21 touches and was the clear lead back for Atlanta in his return last week. Now he'll face off against Carolina’s 32nd-ranked run defense, according to DVOA and aFPA. Add that to the Falcons being three-point home favorites with an implied team total of 25 points, and Freeman should be a rock-solid RB2.
SIT – Kenyan Drake, Cardinals (at Steelers) Since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers have been playing phenomenal defense. They currently rank fifth in run DVOA and second in aFPA to opposing running backs, and the Cardinals offense looked putrid last week. The Cardinals have an implied team total of just 20.5 points and will travel across the country after being routed by the Rams. Kyler Murray’s hamstring may be affecting him and the offense, and Chase Edmonds could get some snaps along with Drake and David Johnson in his second game back from injury. So there’s enough uncertainty to shy away from Drake all together in a tough road matchup.
START – DeVante Parker, Dolphins (at. Jets) Parker has been incredible since Week 4 and isn't getting enough love for his performance. He’s essentially the lone target in Miami after injuries and trades, and yet he continues to perform at a high level. Parker has scored a touchdown or cleared five receptions and reached the 59-yard mark in every game since Sept. 29. He will now square off against a Jets secondary that ranks 27th in aFPA and 21st in pass DVOA. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are a five-point underdog, which should allow for positive game script to aid Parker's performance.
SIT – Brandin Cooks, Rams (vs. Seahawks) This could be the week Cooks finally re-establishes himself, but even in a good matchup, it’s hard to count on him right now. The Seahawks are middle of the pack in both DVOA (13th) and aFPA (18th). In Cooks' first two games back from his second concussion this season, he has combined for four catches for 56 on just six targets in that span. He's at best third or fourth in the Rams' pecking order for looks. We know it only takes one big splash play for Cooks to reassert himself as a fantasy producer, but I’m not taking that chance in the fantasy playoffs unless I’m a massive underdog and need the tremendous ceiling in my flex or WR3 spot.
START – Vance McDonald, Steelers (vs. Cardinals) This is simply about the matchup, as McDonald has done nothing to warrant being a fantasy starter this season. The Cardinals have just been so bad against tight ends this year (32nd aFPA) that you should start any competent player facing off against them. That happens to be McDonald this week.
SIT – Mark Andrews, Ravens (at Bills) On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bills have been fantastic against tight ends, allowing less than nine points per game and ranking third in aFPA. Lamar Jackson looks for Andrews consistently in the red zone, so it’ll be hard to bench him, but temper expectations in this one.
Other starts: Ryan Fitzpatrick (at Jets), Phillip Lindsay (at Texans), A.J. Brown (at Raiders) and Ian Thomas (at Titans).
Other sits: Gardner Minshew (vs. Chargers), Tevin Coleman (at Saints), DJ Chark (vs. Chargers) and Jared Cook (vs. 49ers).
Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.