Saturday December 12th, 2015

Do we still have time for a pithy intro in the playoffs? How about one final piece of advice for those of you beginning a three-week quest for a championship? Now is not the time to get cute. Remember all those important depth players who helped you get through the bye-week portion of the schedule? Guys like Alfred Blue, Travis Benjamin and Antoino Andrews? Forget they ever existed. Your studs are the reason you’re here. I know you’re worried about a questionable designation for Calvin Johnson. I know Chris Ivory’s lack of production over the last few weeks is troubling. Don’t let that make you do something rash. The axiom “dance with who brung you” didn’t originally apply to the fantasy football playoffs, but it may not have a greater partner. Your stars got you to this point. They’ll be the ones to carry you over the next three weeks.

With that, let’s take a look at all the last-minute advice you need in the Week 14 Cheat Sheet.

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Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Redskins

14th

14th

26th

7th

Bears

17th

15th

12th

4th

Vegas lines

Bears -3.5

Over/under 43.5

Redskins o/u 20

Bears o/u 23.5

These teams did a good job of summing up themselves, as well as the huge, soft middle of the NFL. Just when people started getting excited about playoff candidacies in Washington and Chicago, both teams lost games at home in which they were favored. Washington remains in the playoff chase because of the weak NFC East, but Chicago has the better fantasy options with Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery.

Player who could surprise: Matt Jones

Look, I don’t like Jones as a fantasy play. I don’t. At all. I’ve been selling this backfield all season, and that doesn’t change. I can’t ignore the fact, though, that Jones got 18 carries last week, compared with Alfred Morris’ six. The Bears, meanwhile, rank 32nd in rush defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, and 24th against the run in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. If Jones dominates the carries again, he could give you RB2 numbers.

Player who could disappoint: Jay Cutler

Fantasy
Week 14 Waiver Wire: Pick up these two QBs with attractive matchups

There was a Cutler boomlet in the fantasy community last week, thanks in part to a great matchup with the 49ers, and then he threw for 202 yards, 6.52 yards per attempt, zero touchdowns and one interception. Cutler has been mostly steady this season, but it’s hard to believe in him as a fantasy starter in anything other than a two-QB format, and even there he’s at the low end of the spectrum.

Matchup to watch: DeSean Jackson vs. Kyle Fuller

Jackson spent the entire first half of the season injured, while Fuller was mostly getting burned by opposing receivers. In the second half, however, they’ve both turned their seasons around, with Jackson scoring in each of the last three weeks, and Fuller now ranking 37th in coverage. They’ll see a lot of each other at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Injury report

Marquess Wilson (foot): Out

Zach Miller (ribs): Questionable

Eddie Royal (knee): Out

Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Bills

19th

22nd

21st

11th

Eagles

30th

20th

32nd

5th

Vegas lines

Bills -1.5

Over/under 47

Bills o/u 24.5

Eagles o/u 23

The LeSean McCoy—Chip Kelly drama highlights this game, but the fantasy story could be centered on Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins. Taylor has thrown six touchdowns over the last two weeks, with Watkins catching three of them and racking up 267 yards. The over/under here is 47 for a reason. Expect some fireworks in Philadelphia.

Player who could surprise: Ryan Mathews

Mathews is expected to return from a concussion this week after missing the last three games. When we last saw him on the field, he was a secondary back behind DeMarco Murray. This week, he could very well lead the team in carries. The Bills are 30th in rush defense DVOA and have allowed the 11th-most points this season to running backs. Mathews has two games with at least 10 carries this season. In those games, he has 175 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Player who could disappoint: Jordan Matthews

Fantasy
Risers/Sliders: Expect Baldwin to excel during fantasy playoffs

Matthews has found the end zone in both of the Eagles last two games, but don’t let that fool you. He has had a six catches and 11 targets in that time, totaling just 96 yards. Those stats do a much better job of predicting future success, and Matthews is still coming up short on opportunity, as well as catch rate.

Matchup to watch: Bills offensive line vs. Eagles run defense

No matter what McCoy says, we know he has had this game circled on his calendar all season. Rex Ryan is definitely the sort of coach who would indulge a revenge narrative, and the Bills rank seventh in run blocking this season, according to Pro Football Focus. McCoy will have the ball in his hands 25 times in this game.

Injury report

Karlos Williams (shoulder): Out

Charles Clay (knee): Probable

Chris Hogan (knee): Probable

Ryan Mathews (concussion): Probable

Sam Bradford (shoulder): Probable

Kenjon Barner (ankle): Probable

Zach Ertz (hip): Probable

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Falcons

2nd

29th

2nd

23rd

Panthers

6th

11th

7th

17th

Vegas lines

Panthers -7.5

Over/under 46

Falcons o/u 19.5

Panthers o/u 27

Six weeks ago, it looked like this might be a crucial game in the NFC South. Instead, the Panthers are trying to take one more step toward securing the top overall seed in the NFC, while the Falcons are clinging to their slim playoff hopes. It’s a bit of a surprise the Panthers are only favored by 7.5 points, which could give you an indication of which way Vegas is leaning.

Player who could surprise: Devonta Freeman

The Panthers rank third in rush defense DVOA , but they’re 14th by Pro Football Focus metrics and haven’t exactly shut down the run this season. Freeman returned from a concussion last week, totaling 103 yards from scrimmage and catching 10 passes. The Falcons are at their best when the offense is centered around Freeman. You can bet on him getting 25-plus touches on Sunday.

Player who could disappoint: Ted Ginn Jr.

Ginn Jr. has become a popular player in some fantasy circles, especially those involved in deeper leagues, because of his apparent role on top of the receiver depth chart for the Panthers. Remember, though, that his two-touchdown performance last week was against the Saints, and he also had a pair of terrible drops. Ginn Jr. will likely spend a lot of time lined up across form Desmond Trufant on Sunday, which also does not bode well.

Matchup to watch: Julio Jones vs. Josh Norman

Fantasy
Start ’Em, Sit ’Em: How to set your fantasy lineups for Week 14

The names say it all. Jones has actually been just the No. 11 wide receiver in standard-scoring leagues since Week 4, and he draws the toughest matchup on Sunday that he has had all season. The same could be said for Norman. Both Jones and Norman are at or near the top of their respective positions.

Injury report

Matt Bryant (quad): Out

Julio Jones (knee): Probable

Jacob Tamme (shoulder): Probable

Charles Tillman (knee): Doubtful

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Steelers

22nd

3rd

27th

26th

Bengals

5th

8th

10th

13th

Vegas lines

Bengals -3

Over/under 50

Steelers o/u 23.5

Bengals o/u 26.5

The last time these teams played, we expected it to be a first-to-30-wins situation. Then they went out and didn’t even combine for 30 points in the Bengals’ 16-10 win. Expect that to change on Sunday. We’re going to get the scoring bonanza we expected the first time around. Get your Bengals and Steelers active this week.

Player who could surprise: DeAngelo Williams and Jeremy Hill

All the focus in this game is on the passing attacks, and with good reason. When you have Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on one side, and Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert on the other, you’re going to get a lot of aerial attention. Don’t ignore Williams and Hill, though. Any time there’s an over/under of 50 on a game, you want investment. Williams has been a matchup-proof running back without Le’Veon Bell, and Hill is riding his best three-game streak of the season.

Player who could disappoint: No one

It seems that at least one locked-in fantasy starter disappoints in every game, but we’re going to make the argument that this one will buck that trend. These are two of the best offenses in the league, with the Bengals ranking first in DVOA and the Steelers third. The Bengals are first in passing and seventh in rushing, while the Steelers are fifth and third, respectively. Giovani Bernard and Marvin Jones could miss out on the fun, but no one is really leaning on them. The stars will shine bright in Cincinnati.

Matchup to watch: Antonio Brown vs. Dre Kirkpatrick

With Adam Jones (foot) likely out, the first responsibility for covering Brown falls to Kirkpatrick. There’s going to be a trickle-down effect on the defense that Ben Roethilsberger and the entire Pittsburgh offense should be able to exploit.

Injury report

Adam Jones (foot): Doubtful

Tyler Eifert (neck): Probable

San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

49ers

13th

31st

20th

9th

Browns

28th

27th

28th

18th

Vegas lines

Browns -1.5

Over/under 41

49ers o/u 20

Browns o/u 21.5

There’s a legitimate chance your league will have just one starter in this game, that being Gary Barnidge. Shaun Draughn is a solid play in any format, but it’s not like he absolutely has to be started, no matter your roster. After him, who’s the next best fantasy play? Anquan Boldin? Johnny Manziel? This is basically the opposite of Steelers-Bengals.

Player who could surprise: Anquan Boldin

And yet, there’s still room for hope to find it’s way into 49ers-Browns. Boldin hasn’t scored since Week 5 and hasn’t surpassed the 100-yard mark since Week 6, but this is a very good matchup for the 49ers’ top receiver. The Browns are 28th in pass defense DVOA this season and have surrendered the fifth-most points to receivers. In Blaine Gabbert’s four starts, Boldin is averaging 10.5 targets and 5.25 receptions.

Player who could disappoint: Gary Barnidge

He and Draughn are the only players who enter this game with any expectations, so it has to be one of them. He’s not in any jeopardy to miss this game, but he is dealing with a minor ankle injury that could have him at less than 100%. While he and Manziel were on the same page in the quarterback’s last start, there’s no doubt that Josh McCown has been his real benefactor this season.

Matchup to watch: Gary Barnidge vs. Aaron Lynch

Lynch won’t be the only player in coverage on Barnidge, but he’ll definitely be asked to man up with the big tight end a few times in this game. Lynch has played 77 snaps in coverage this season, allowing 10 receptions on the 11 targets for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Injury report

Carlos Hyde (foot): Out

Vance McDonald (concussion): Out

Anquan Boldin (hamstring): Probable

Justin Gilbert (concussion): Out

Joe Haden (concussion): Out

Johnny Manziel (elbow): Probable

Gary Barnidge (ankle): Questionable

Travis Benjamin (shoulder): Questionable

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Colts

26th

24th

30th

20th

Jaguars

31st

19th

16th

31st

Vegas lines

Jaguars -1

Over/under 46

Colts o/u 22.5

Jaguars o/u 23.5

That the Jaguars are favored should tell you about the state of the AFC South. This could actually be a fun game for fantasy purposes, similar to the Jaguars-Titans shootout last week. Neither of these teams is all that interested in playing defense, evidenced by their fantasy points allowed against all positions.

• ​MAYS: Allen Robinson a sign of offensive success to come for Jaguars

Player who could surprise: Matt Hasselbeck

Hasselbeck has been more or less effective for the Colts this season, though his stats don’t exactly jump off the page, especially from a fantasy perspective. Still, he has done enough (15.2 points per game) to be confident in his floor against a Jaguars team that has surrendered the second-most points to quarterbacks this season. As Marcus Mariota displayed last week, there’s a high ceiling against this defense every week, too.

Player who could disappoint: Julius Thomas

Fantasy
Week 14’s most intriguing players: Will McCoy make the Eagles pay?

Fantasy owners should have a ton of confidence in the Jacksonville passing game this week, with Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson leading the way. The problem for Thomas is that Robinson has proved he’s always going to get his. That means Thomas needs to fend off Allen Hurns, who is expected to return from a concussion this week. Thomas had, by far, his best performance of the season in the same game Hurns left with his concussion. With Hurns back, Thomas is no more than a low-end TE1.

Matchup to watch: Allen Robinson vs. Vontae Davis

The last time the Jaguars and Colts played, way back on October 4, was also the last time Robinson was held to fewer than 11 points in standard-scoring leagues. Since then, Robinson has 50 catches for 750 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games. He and Davis will give us one of the best individual matchups of the weekend.

Injury report

Matt Hasselbeck (neck): Probable

Greg Toler (knee): Questionable

Allen Hurns (concussion): Questionable

T.J. Yeldon (groin): Probable

San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Chargers

12th

28th

6th

27th

Chiefs

11th

6th

31st

1st

Vegas lines

Chiefs -10

Over/under 45.5

Chargers o/u 18

Chiefs o/u 28

Guess who has the highest team total this week? It’s not the Bengals or the Steelers. It’s not the Patriots. It’s the Kansas City Chiefs, favored by 10 points and looking at a team total of 28. Who would have thought they could reach these heights without Jamaal Charles? And guess what? Smart money is on the over.

Player who could surprise: Alex Smith

Over the last five weeks, Alex Smith has thrown for 1,019 yards, 7.6 YPA, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions, while running for 202 yards and two scores. That translates to 20.19 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. Now Smith gets a Chargers defense that is 29th in pass DVOA that he just carved up for 10.12 YPA three weeks ago. He’s a borderline QB1 this week.

Player who could disappoint: Antonio Gates

You’ve already lowered your expectations for Philip Rivers and Danny Woodhead. It’s time to do the same for Gates. The Chargers offense is simply in a state of disrepair. Gates should get plenty of targets on Sunday with all the injuries to the team’s receiving corps, but you’re relying entirely on volume with him this week. In a perfect world, you won’t have any investment in the Chargers in Week 14.

Matchup to watch: Chiefs offensive line vs. Chargers run defense

Charcandrick West is another week removed from his hamstring injury, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the committee that we’ve seen in Kansas City went by the boards this week. The Chargers rank 31st in both rush defense DVOA and Pro Football Focus’ run grades. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are 12th in run blocking. West could flourish again behind that line.

Injury report

Steve Johnson (groin): Out

Dontrelle Inman (neck): Out

Corey Liuget (foot): Out

Philip Rivers (foot): Probable

D.J. Fluker (concussion): Questionable

Travis Kelce (groin): Probable

Tennessee Titans at New York Jets

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Titans

27th

4th

22nd

24th

Jets

15th

2nd

24th

2nd

Vegas lines

Jets -7

Over/under 43

Titans o/u 18

Jets o/u 25

The Jets are tied with the Chiefs and Steelers and finish the season with games at home against the Patriots and at the Bills. That means they absolutely need to win this game with the Titans in town on Sunday. That helps to make the Jets’ offense one of my favorite investments of the weekend, but the fact is this group has been bankable all year.

Player who could surprise: Ryan Fitzpatrick

There’s no doubt in my mind that Fitzpatrick is a rock-solid QB1 this week. Everyone loves Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but people seem to overlook Fitzpatrick’s involvement in their stellar seasons. He has been even better of late, throwing for 1,348 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions over his last five games. Blake Bortles just torched the Titans a week ago. Expect Fitzpatrick to follow up in kind.

Player who could disappoint: Marcus Mariota

Mariota is coming off one of the best games of his rookie season after throwing for 268 yards and three touchdowns, and adding 112 yards and a score on the ground, in the win over the Jaguars. Even though the Jets’ defense really hasn’t been any better than league average against the pass for the balance of the season, it’ll present Mariota with a much tougher challenge. Think of him as a mid-tier QB2.

• ​WATCH: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota are both franchise quarterbacks

Matchup to watch: Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker vs. Titans secondary

The Titans are in the middle of the pack in pass defense DVOA and pass coverage, a bad combination when you’re going up against the Jets’ duo of Marshall and Decker. The two are also tied for second in red-zone targets with 21, meaning the Titans corners and safeties won’t get a break all game. Expect both receivers to take advantage.

Injury report

Kendall Wright (ribs): Out

Eric Decker (knee): Probable

Ryan Fitzpatrick (thumb): Probable

Brandon Marshall (ribs): Probable

Detroit Lions at St. Louis Rams

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Lions

25th

21st

15th

28th

Rams

7th

25th

4th

19th

Vegas lines

Lions -1

Over/under 41

Lions o/u 21

Rams o/u 20

The 49ers and Browns are getting all the attention, but don’t sleep on how ugly this game could be. We’ve got a pair of teams that aren’t going anywhere, the No. 32 passing offense on one side, and the No. 31 rushing attack on the other. The Lions are 24th in offensive DVOA, while the Rams are dead last. If you’re looking for a silver lining, we could finally see the re-emergence of Todd Gurley against a Lions defense that has been relatively friendly against running backs this year.

Player who could surprise: Ameer Abdullah

The Lions continue to give Abdullah plenty of run, getting him 13 carries against the Packers last week. He picked up 67 yards, and should be in for at least 15 touches in this game. The Rams are eighth in rush defense DVOA, but they have allowed a back to score at least 10 points in standard-scoring leagues in each of their last five games.

Player who could disappoint: Matthew Stafford

NFL
Breaking down the NFL playoff picture entering Week 14

Stafford’s numbers actually seem rather impressive at face value. He’s the No. 13 quarterback in total points, racking up 3,164 yards, 7.11 YPA, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Outside of two huge games against the Bears and Eagles, however, he has zero—yes, zero—top-12 weeks this season. In other words, he has had two great games, and has otherwise been a dud for his fantasy owners. It’s hard to imagine him adding another one ot the positive side of the ledger against a defense like the Rams’.

Matchup to watch: Calvin Johnson vs. Trumaine Johnson

The Rams rank ninth in pass coverage as a team and sixth in pass defense DVOA, but the first responsibility for covering Megatron will fall to Trumaine Johnson. He’ll have plenty of help over the top, but don’t be surprised if the Rams leave him singled up from time to time, especially with Stafford having issues hooking up deep all season with his No. 1 receiver.

Injury report

Calvin Johnson (ankle): Questionable

Robert Quinn (back): Out

Janoris Jenkins (concussion): Doubtful

Greg Zuerlein (hip): Probable

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Saints

32nd

32nd

25th

32nd

Buccaneers

20th

10th

19th

15th

Vegas lines

Buccaneers -4

Over/under 51

Saints o/u 23.5

Buccaneers o/u 27.5

I can’t remember the last time the Buccaneers had the second-highest team total in a given week, but I’m willing to bet Warrick Dunn was involved. That’s part of the magic of this New Orleans defense in 2015. It turns basically every passing game into the league’s best. Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be started everywhere they’re available.

Player who could surprise: Brandon Coleman

Brandin Cooks should be good to go for Sunday, but Willie Snead will be, at best, playing at less than 100%. That could open the door for Coleman to have a big role in a game that carries an over/under of 51. With Snead out last week, Coleman caught four of his seven targets for 73 yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers have one of the league’s strongest rush defenses, but are 24th in pass DVOA. If the Saints pull the upset, it will be thanks to Drew Brees and the passing game.

Player who could disappoint: Jameis Winston

I’m just going to put this out there as a word of warning. The Saints are nearly as bad against the run as they are against the pass. You don’t need to be a start to tear apart this secondary (Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford), but the biggest games have come from established fantasy quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck. Even Marcus Mariota, who threw for four touchdowns and 371 yards against the Saints, has had a few other huge performances. Winston is a QB1, but he’s still in the middle of the tier in my estimation.

Matchup to watch: Mike Evans vs. Delvin Breaux (hamstring)

Breaux has been as good individually as the Saints passing defense has been bad collectively. He’ll be asked to slow down Evans to help keep Winston and the Buccaneers in check, assuming he’s able to play through a hamstring injury. Get used to seeing these two square off twice per year.

Injury report

Brandin Cooks (concussion): Probable

Willie Snead (calf): Probable

Delvin Breaux (hamstring): Probable

Vincent Jackson (knee): Probable

Lavonte David (ankle): Questionable

Gerald McCoy (hand): Questionable

Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Seahawks

3rd

1st

3rd

25th

Ravens

24th

5th

29th

3rd

Vegas lines

Seahawks -12

Over/under 41

There may not be two more mismatched teams at this stage of the season than the Seahawks and Ravens. Seattle is peaking in the second half, and appears to be on its way to securing the No. 5 seed on the NFC side of the bracket. The Ravens, meanwhile, can’t wait for the season to end. This game isn’t going to change the ethos on either side.

Player who could surprise: Luke Willson

NFL
Wilson's dominance in pocket crucial to Seahawks' offensive resurgence

Russell Wilson, Thomas Rawls and Doug Baldwin have carried the Seahawks offensively over the last month, and all belong in starting lineups this week. Outside of those three, however, Seattle doesn’t offer much fantasy goodness. Willson isn’t a significant pass-catching threat, but he is big and athletic, and can be a red-zone target. He’s a high-end TE2 would could help those of you who might be without Rob Gronkowski and missed out on Scott Chandler and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Player who could disappoint: Buck Allen

Allen has turned into a fantasy mainstay in the wake of Justin Forsett’s season-ending arm injury. Volume won’t be a question for him on Sunday. Production will be. The Seahawks have allowed the fewest points to running backs this year, despite not playing at the same level as the previous two seasons. Allen showed last week, with his 12 receptions on 13 targets, that he’s an asset in the passing game, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a terrible matchup. Consider him a low-end RB2.

Matchup to watch: Seahawks offensive line vs. Ravens run defense

As bad as things have gone in Baltimore this year, the team’s run defense has actually played quite well. It is 14th in DVOA and fourth according to Pro Football Focus. It will have its hands full this week, however, with the surprising Rawls amassing some of the biggest per-game totals at running back this season.

Injury report

Marshawn Lynch (abdomen): Out

Eugene Monroe (shoulder): Out

Matt Schaub (chest): Questionable

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Raiders

23rd

18th

13th

30th

Broncos

1st

17th

1st

21st

Vegas lines

Broncos -7.5

Over/under 43.5

Raiders o/u 18

Broncos o/u 25.5

Few, if anyone, would have believed that the Raiders would have the best passing attack in this game, but Denver’s defense could turn that into a moot point. Do the Broncos still have it in them to score 26-plus points, though? This could be lower-scoring than that team total suggests.

Player who could surprise: Latavius Murray

Murray played very well with a tough assignment against the Chiefs last week, racking up 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He has another brutal test on Sunday, but the Raiders are more likely to count on him than they are Derek Carr and the passing game, given Denver’s top-rated pass defense. Murray should get at least 20 touches, and he could push up to 30 if game script works in his favor.

Player who could disappoint: The Oakland passing game

Fantasy
The 2015 All-Bust Team: Fantasy’s most disappointing players

By now you know the story. The Broncos have allowed the fewest points to quarterbacks and receivers this season. They have the leagues No. 1 pass defense DVOA. The first time these teams met, Carr threw for 249 yards, 6.39 YPA (his third-worst mark of the season), one touchdown and one interception. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree combined for eight catches for 91 yards. History could very well repeat itself.

Matchup to watch: Amari Cooper vs. Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree vs. Chris Harris

The league’s best cornerback pairing against one of its top receiver duos. This will be fun.

Injury report

Amari Cooper (foot): Probable

Emmanuel Sanders (ankle): Probable

DeMarcus Ware (back): Probable

Owen Daniels (knee): Probable

Ronnie Hillman (foot): Questionable

C.J. Anderson (ankle): Questionable

Vernon Davis (concussion): Questionable

3:24 | The MMQB
MMQB Fantasy Check: Week 14

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Cowboys

4th

23rd

5th

8th

Packers

16th

12th

9th

22nd

Vegas lines

Packers -7.5

Over/under 43

Cowboys o/u 18.5

Packers o/u 26

Neither of these teams are as explosive as expected this year, thanks in large part to significant injuries on both sides. The Cowboys are shockingly still alive in the NFC East, but can they really go into Lambeau and keep this within a touchdown? Darren McFadden and Dez Bryant owners can only hope.

Player who could surprise: Eddie Lacy

Fantasy
Don't trust Eddie Lacy; more Fantasy facts to know heading into playoffs

Who’s ready to get back on the horse? Lacy was shockingly absent from Green Bay’s game plan last week, though that owed, at least in part, to game flow. Mike McCarthy said all week that Lacy would be in his familiar role on Sunday, and if we’re willing to take him at face value, there’s plenty of reason to get excited about Lacy. The Cowboys are 26th in rush defense DVOA and 28th against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.

Player who could disappoint: Darren McFadden

Dez Bryant could just as easily be the call here, but labeling him a disappointment because of Matt Cassel is getting old. The Cassel Effect is nearly as dramatic for McFadden. Without a quarterback who can keep the Packers honest, expect Dom Capers to zero in on McFadden and force Cassel to be the reason why the Cowboys stage the upset. If Cassel isn’t up to the task, McFadden will suffer.

Matchup to watch: Packers offensive line vs. Cowboys pass rush

We’re all well aware what happens to defenses that don’t put enough pressure on Aaron Rodgers. The Cowboys have been able to get after quarterbacks this season, ranking 12th in pass rush, while the Packers, for all their relative struggles, rank fourth in pass blocking. Find the winner of this matchup, and you’ve likely found the winner of the game, as well.

Injury report

Dez Braynt (foot): Probable

Corey Linsley (ankle): Doubtful

Bryan Bulaga (ankle): Questionable

New England Patriots at Houston Texans

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Patriots

10th

13th

17th

7th

Texans

18th

16th

11th

12th

Vegas lines

Patriots -3.5

Over/under 45

Patriots o/u 24.5

Texans o/u 21

Who would have thought the phrase “reeling Patriots,” would actually be a thing this season? Losers of two straight, the Patriots head to Houston for a Sunday night showdown with the Texans, a team with one key weapon that could keep the Patriots in third place in the AFC. Hint: He plays defense.

• BURKE: Gronk-less Patriots tumble three spots in Week 14 Power Rankings

Player who could surprise: Alfred Blue

There’s no secret as to how the Texans will try to win this game. Control the clock with the run game, hit a few big plays with DeAndre Hopkins, and ask the defense to play one of its best games of the season. It’s not as unlikely as it might sound, and if it comes to fruition, Blue is going to play a significant role. You can’t think of him as more than an RB3 heading into Sunday, but he has a top-20 ceiling this week.

Player who could disappoint: Scott Chandler

The bet here is that Rob Gronkowski misses one more week before returning. That would again make Chandler a must-start play, but there’s a very real chance he falls short of expectations. New England’s total of 24.5 is one of its lowest of the season, and Chandler is potentially no better than the team’s third option. Don’t forget that he’s dealing with a knee injury of his own that has him carrying a questionable tag. What’s more, if Gronkowski is a game-time decision, you could be taking a major risk by holding out for Chandler. If Gronkowski plays, Chandler would be relegated to the periphery.

Matchup to watch: Marcus Cannon (and whoever helps him) vs. J.J. Watt

Watt has the ability to single-handedly blow up New England’s game plan. He’s up to 13.5 sacks on the season and has to be relishing the chance to go up against the Patriots and their 31st-ranked pass-blocking unit in front of a national audience. He’ll mostly line up on the offense’s left, which means Cannon will have the unenviable task of keeping the league’s best defensive player out of the backfield. The Patriots will undoubtedly send help in his direction, but will it be enough to keep Brady upright?

Injury report

Julian Edelman (foot): Out

Danny Amendola (knee): Questionable

Rob Gronkowski (knee): Questionable

Scott Chandler (knee): Questionable

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Giants

29th

26th

18th

29th

Dolphins

21st

30th

23rd

14th

Vegas lines

Giants -1.5

Over/under 47

Giants o/u 24.5

Dolphins o/u 23

Welcome to another Monday night with a pair of disappointing-yet-entertaining (especially from a fantasy standpoint) teams. The team totals add up to a half-point higher than the total, a sign that this one could get very interesting. Plus, Odell Beckham always seems to come through in prime time.

Player who could surprise: DeVante Parker

The rookie out of Louisville is finally getting his chance with Rishard Matthews on the shelf. Over the last two weeks, Parker has seven catches on 15 targets for 143 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants, meanwhile, are nearly as bad against the pass as the Saints, and are on pace to allow the most passing yards in NFL history. With Eli Manning firing away on the other side, Ryan Tannehill will have to do his best to match him. That is great news for Parker and his fantasy owners.

Player who could disappoint: Ryan Tannehill

Fantasy
Week 14 DFS Picks: Load up on the Bucs against NFL’s worst defense

He has done it all season. Why stop in Week 14? Tannehill keeps on hanging on in fantasy circles thanks go great matchups, but at some point it’s time up to us to throw in the towel. While Parker is a worthy play this week, Tannehill barely shows up on the QB2 radar. This is a case of, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 10 times, it’s high time I find a new hobby.” Even with the great matchup, Tannehill can’t do anything but let you down.

Matchup to watch: Odell Beckham vs. Dolphins secondary

Beckham may not see single man coverage all game, but that doesn’t really matter. You want to keep your eyes on him every time he takes the field. The Dolphins rank 25th in pass defense DVOA and dead last against No. 1 wide receivers. That’s a dangerous mix against a player like Beckham, arguably the most talented receiver in the league. This is the matchup to watch because you don’t want to miss what he might do next.

Injury report

The official injury report for Monday Night Football isn’t available until Sunday, but there are a few potentially relevant injuries on Miami’s side. Rishard Matthews will be out with a chest injury, which keeps the door open for DeVante Parker. Jarvis Landry was limited in Friday’s practice because of a knee injury, but he’s not in any jeopardy for Monday. Center Mike Pouncey (foot) was also limited all week, but the Dolphins expect to have him active.

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