Hello everyone, and welcome to the 14th installment of the Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em series. I’ll keep it short for you guys everyone, so welcome to the playoffs and let’s get started… With A.J. Green’s departure a few weeks ago due to a hamstring injury, certain players have had to pick up the slack from his lack of production values, and Eifert has done the most absorbing of this production value. His an increasing target share, snap counts, and even red zone efficiency, it’s no wonder why he is producing like the way he is. This week he’ll only have to battled with Brandon LaFell and the two running backs to get the targets and looks he deserves, but he’ll have a great matchup on the way, against a Cleveland Browns team that ranks as the 31st pass defense in the NFL, and 31st in the NFL against TE’s, who give up close to 65 yards and 0.8 TD’s per game. Fire him up with confidence…
Note: I will be more than happy to answer specific lineup questions below, but I won’t be selecting the “obvious” plays unless I don’t think they are so obvious. Regardless of a great matchup, you won’t see names like Tom Brady, David Johnson or Antonio Brown. Those are no-brainers. Fire ’em up with confidence.
Matthew Stafford (vs. CHI)
Before the season, I tirelessly advocated for people to draft Matthew Stafford, and although he definitely had his fair share of sub-par games, he’s definitely shined in his first full year under OC Jim Bob Cooter. Well now, after buying low on him during the draft, and possibly the last few weeks before the trade deadline, now you get your opportunity in the first round of the playoffs against a Bears defense that has historically been beaten by Stafford, as last year at home, Stafford tore them up for 405 yards and 4 TD’s. After last weeks performance, he’s into QB1 consideration for the playoffs.
Jameis Winston (vs. NO)
Winston has a really good schedule for the playoffs, as not only will he play the Saints this week, if you can get past the Cowboys next week, you’ll get the Saints again in Week 16. New Orleans has improved over the course of the year, but still gives up close to 287 yards and 2 TD’s per game, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 26th-best defense versus the pass. Use him now, and reap the rewards later.
Eli Manning (vs. DAL)
Yes, they’re 8-4, yet we still get the feeling like the Giants passing attack can be one of the best in the business after some disappointing results during the last couple of weeks. The fact of the matter is that the G-Men doesn’t have a rushing attack, and some pretty great receivers, yet Eli has come up short (even with some no-calls). However, still gotta hand it to them, they’re still 8-4. This week they’ll get another great chance to do well through the air and win a very important divisional game versus a Dallas team that ranks as Football Outsiders’ 27th-best team against the pass, giving up close to 286 and 2 TD’s per game.
Dak Prescott (@ NYG)
Dak has been pretty good this year and during some specific weeks, he’s been a Top-5 QB with very solid stat lines. However, I fully believe this will not be one of those weeks. Not only is it on the road in New York against a tough Giants defense that on a per-game basis, gives up the 2nd-least points to QB’s (behind only Denver), and ranks as Football Outsiders’ 7th-best defense versus the pass, he also struggled a bit against the G-Men in Week 1, only throwing for 227 yards without any scores, putting up 16 fpts. We aren’t looking for that now in the playoffs, so I would give him some rest on your bench as you get another option and prepare for next week once you win.
Kirk Cousins (@ PHI)
I don’t know if you have heard, but it is virtually impossible to succeed against Philadelphia in Philadelphia, as they have proved to be unbeatable once they get at home, and for a defense that usually ranks as the 4th-best team against the pass, per Football Outsiders, I would stay the hell away from Cousins and look towards another streaming option.
Todd Gurley (vs. ATL)
Hopefully you bought low on him a few weeks ago, this game should bring some hope into your life. After a slow start to the year, he’s picked things up lately and slowly started to become a consistent back. This week he’ll get a Falcons defense that ranks as the 27th-best defense versus the rush per Football Outsiders, an excellent opportunity as an RB2 to get you into the next round of the fantasy playoffs.
Ever since A.J. Green went down with his injury a few weeks ago, both Hill and Burkhead have picked up some production in the Cincy offense, with Burkhead getting more work on passing downs, likely due to the fact that I’m better as pass blocking than Jeremy Hill is. So, if you need a FLEX option in PPR leagues, Burkhead doesn’t make a bad option. Either way, it’s a good matchup, with Cleveland ranking as Football Outsiders’ 29th-best defense against the run, giving up almost 127 yards per game on the ground, with Hill having a good history against them as well.
Ryan Mathews (vs. WAS)
HC Doug Pederson spoke earlier this week and stated that Mathews will be a full-go this week against Washington at home, and good thing he is for our sakes, as it’s a pretty great matchup. He’ll get to face a Washington defense that ranks as the 30th-best defense against the run, giving up 99.5 yards per game to opposing backs, and makes a nice RB2/FLEX option this week.
Carlos Hyde (vs. NYJ)
Like I have stated numerous times over the course of the year, the Jets are the prime example of a funnel defense, and with a so-so secondary, yet pretty solid rush D, I’ve been preaching to avoid using opposing backs. This week is no exception, and with Blaine Gabbert likely getting the call to be under center come Sunday, the Jets can largely ignore the passing attack and focus all their might on the SF rushing attack. I would look somewhere else.
All New England and Baltimore Running Backs
Both defenses on Monday Night this week have average secondaries with really solid rush defenses, specifically the Ravens, who have the best per Football Outsiders. The Patriots, on the other hand, rank as Football Outsiders’ 4th-best team against the run. I think both offenses come Monday lean towards more of a passing-based offensive attack, and I don’t feel comfortable enough using any backs in this situation.
All Green Bay Running Backs (vs. SEA)
They’ve been up and down throughout the entire year, but we can pretty much sit any and all of them this week against Seattle. Although they will be on the road and without Earl Thomas, this is still a very solid front seven and linebacking core group of players, and in the quarterfinals for a whole lot of folks out there, it’s best to play it safe and give them all a rest.
DeAndre Hopkins (@ IND)
Yes, he might face CB Vontae Davis, but it won’t matter, because we’ve seen time and time again that that is what Indy only has, and I’d take my chances by starting a man who is still, even if it is deep, deep inside of him, still DeAndre Hopkins, against a secondary that gives up close to 174 yards and 1.5 TD’s per game to Wide Receivers, ranking as Football Outsiders’ 29th-best defense versus the pass.
Golden Tate (vs. CHI)
Yeah, it may have taken me a while, but now I have finally come to the conclusion that Marvin Jones is no longer the number 1 receiver in Detroit, it is now our boy Golden Tate. And good thing for us to, as he’ll face a nice Chicago Bears team that ranks as a middle-of-the-road defense, but has been tore up time and time again by Matthew Stafford and Co. Tate will get a first-hand chance to bring a lot of folks to the next round next week.
Cameron Meredith (@ DET)
Kind of a sleeper/high risk-high reward FLEX play if you need one, as he’ll face a juicy Detroit secondary that ranks as the 30th-best defense against the pass per Football Outsiders, giving up close to 160 yards per game through the air to WR’s.
Allen Robinson (vs. MIN)
Like I have mentioned before, the Eagles are almost impossible to beat at home, and still, with a strong secondary I don’t trust any Washington receivers in the quarterfinals at this stage.
Randall Cobb/Devante Adams (vs. SEA)
Yes, Earl Thomas won’t play, but this is still a very solid secondary and linebacking core group of players, and I’d find better options. These guys are both FLEX plays only, and low-end ones at that as well.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (@ IND)
Per Football Outsiders, Indianapolis has the worst defense when it comes to TE’s, and as one of the primary reads for Osweiler, we can plug in C.J. as a replacement for an injured player, 0r at this point, just as a player.
Dwayne Allen (vs. HOU)
They are one of the best, if not the best defensive units when it comes to covering TE’s, and this week is no different. Don’t let last week get to you.
Wil Lutz (@ TB)
There will be many points to be had on both sides of the ball come Sunday in what is marked as the highest O/U of the week by Vegas, and is also listed as a “Pick ‘Em” game, with no clear favorite.
Jason Myers (vs. MIN)
Yes, they are at home, but in what has been listed as the game with the lowest O/U on the week by Vegas, I have a hard time seeing the Jags offense being productive at all against this tough Minnesota D. Is there a prop bet somewhere of the odds that Bortles can pass the 50 yard line Sunday?
Defense & Special Teams
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
Have I mentioned that the Eagles are pretty hard to beat at home, and all-around, have a pretty solid defensive unit? I think I have.
*Note* – If you are feeling a little risky, and want to roster a Defense that could potentially bring you to the next round of the playoffs, give a nod to Tampa Bay. Not only have they looked very solid this year under DC Mike Smith (compared to the beginning where they suffered quite a bit), and although he’s still Drew Brees, he’s struggled quite a bit on the road throughout his entire career.
Denver Broncos (@ TEN)
Their rush defense hasn’t been the same since last year, and against DeMarco Murray right now, I wouldn’t want to start them in Week 14.
Thanks for sticking around to the end for what is shaping up to be a great ninth week of the NFL season. As always, if you agree or disagree with a player above, or have a general question or comment about your team, please do not hesitate to leave one below.
Best of luck, and I’ll talk to you guys next week as we try to get your team to 10-0 on the season.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.