We come to the final week of the 2014 fantasy football season (in most leagues). The past week has been tumultuous, with Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tossing a whopping six touchdowns and New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham not targeted once in the Saints’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Whether you are starting your fantasy playoffs this week or need one more win to push yourself into the first round, make sure to read the Week 14 edition of the MTSU Sidelines: Start ‘Ems and Sit ‘Ems for the fantasy advice to get you the victory and bragging rights.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: Despite really struggling to get much going in the passing game for a few weeks, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was able to play well against the San Francisco 49ers, completing 15 of his 22 passing attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown.
This week, Wilson and the Seahawks continue their road stretch in Philadelphia against an Eagles team that held the Dallas Cowboys to only 10 points. Do not let the Eagles’ dominance over Tony Romo and the Cowboys fool you – they don’t have a great secondary. While they are great at getting after the quarterback, Russell Wilson is athletic enough to take advantage of a less-than-stellar secondary.
Start ‘Ems: Colin Kaepernick (SF), Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU), Eli Manning (NYG)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons were able to finally win their fifth game of the season to grab a lead over the surprisingly weak NFC South. While he threw for 361 yards, a pair of touchdowns and only one interception, Ryan will have a much more difficult time on Monday night in Green Bay against a Packers team that held Tom Brady and his red hot New England Patriots passing attack to only two touchdowns.
The Packers have only allowed seven passing touchdowns in six home games. Do not expect much out of Ryan this week.
Sit ‘Ems: Joe Flacco (BAL), Mark Sanchez (PHI), Kyle Orton (BUF)
Sleeper of the Week: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Never was Cam Newton thought to be a fantasy dud.
Instead he has only passed for 2,586 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The fourth-year quarterback has been a major disappointment for fantasy owners, especially considering the very poor secondaries of the rest of the NFC South teams.
This week, Newton takes on the New Orleans Saints, who held Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a combined three touchdowns. While the Panthers have an abysmal 3-8-1 record, they are not yet eliminated from the playoffs, and the 2010 Heisman trophy winner could return to his prime form from yesteryear and help your team and his team to the playoffs.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Whenever Foster is healthy, he is often considered an “automatic start”; however, against the Tennessee Titans’ worst rushing defense in the league, he only ran for 79 yards without a touchdown. This may largely have been due to his groin injury, or maybe the Titans stepped up their game. Nevertheless, Foster has another favorable matchup this week in Jacksonville against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Start Foster this week.
Start ‘Ems: Frank Gore (SF), Rashad Jennings (NYG), Alfred Morris (WAS)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars: While the Jaguars have been shredded on the ground, they have been able to find some success from their own running back, former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who has rushed for 552 yards and four touchdowns.
Robinson has only rushed for 69 yards over the past two games combined, even with a game against the second-worst run defense of the New York Giants. He’s on a downward trend right now and plays Houston, tied for fourth in the league for least rushing yards allowed. Do not start Robinson.
Sit ‘Ems: Tre Mason (STL), Ryan Mathews (SD), Doug Martin (TB)
Sleeper of the Week: Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts: Herron was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, but he is now getting a chance to start with the Colts after Ahmad Bradshaw went down for the season with an injury.
Herron exploded against the Washington Redskins last week with eight carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. This week, Herron gets a Browns defense that’s allowed the fourth-most rushing yards this season, and he could repeat success.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins: This week the Dolphins take on the Baltimore Ravens, who have allowed the top receiver on each of the past two teams they’ve played to score a pair of touchdowns. While Mike Wallace probably will not get two touchdowns, he will be able to build off the 661 yards and seven receiving touchdowns he’s amassed thus far in the season.
Start ‘Ems: Kendall Wright (TEN), Greg Jennings (MIN), Michael Crabtree (SF)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: It is difficult to imagine Antonio Brown having a bad game, but it could happen this week in Cincinnati.
The Bengals have only allowed one passing touchdown in the past four weeks, and no receiver has gained 60 yards through the air against them in that time.
We could see Antonio Brown be shut down this week, as the Steelers take advantage of the Bengals’ porous rushing defense and ride Le’Veon Bell to victory.
Sit ‘Ems: Michael Floyd (ARI), Mike Evans (TB), Pierre Garçon (WAS)
Sleeper of the Week: Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts: Those that have followed the Colts have been calling for rookie receiver Donte Moncrief to get more touches over Hakeem Nicks for several weeks, and it finally happened this past week against Washington as he hauled in three passes for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He could see more touches this week against the Browns.
Start ‘Em of the Week: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: If Philip Rivers and the Chargers are going to succeed against the New England Patriots this week, they will have to rely on more than just Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews, who will struggle this week against the Patriots’ strong running defense. Rivers will have to throw to Gates against a Patriots defense that held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to only two passing touchdowns.
Start ‘Ems: Jason Witten (DAL), Owen Daniels (BAL)
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals: No one expected the Steelers to shut out the Saints’ top receiver, tight end Jimmy Graham. If they can do that, they should have no issue stopping a mediocre tight end in Gresham.
Sit ‘Ems: Greg Olsen (CAR), Larry Donnell (NYG)
Sleeper of the Week: Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have a tough task this week in Philly in the form of the Seattle Seahawks and their tough defense. Richard Sherman is on a hot streak after intercepting 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick twice on Thanksgiving.
If the Eagles want to win, they’ve got to keep the ball away from Sherman and give their tight end some looks.
Start ‘Em of the Week: San Francisco 49ers D/ST: The luck of the draw that is the NFL’s scheduling is in San Francisco’s favor this week. After being demolished 19-3 by the Seahawks on Thanksgiving, the 49ers get over a week to prepare for a “road game” down the street to Oakland to play the Raiders, who are coming off a 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
This is where the 49ers need to thank the football gods for their good luck and opportunity for the whole to team to have a rebound.
Start ‘Ems: Houston Texans D/ST, Minnesota Vikings D/ST
Sit ‘Em of the Week: Indianapolis Colts D/ST: While the Colts did beat the Robert Griffin-less Washington Redskins, they still allowed Colt McCoy to throw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. This week they get McCoy’s former team, the Cleveland Browns, who will be starting a very hungry quarterback. It doesn’t matter if it’s Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer – either will be playing to make a statement to keep his job.
Sit ‘Ems: San Diego Chargers D/ST, Dallas Cowboys D/ST
Sleeper of the Week: New Orleans Saints D/ST: The Saints’ defense is far from impressive, but if Cam Newton continues down the slide that is his 2014 season, the Saints’ defense could make some plays.
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To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email email@example.com