Fantasy football Bold Strategies: Pick up Streater, start Green
Depending on league settings, this is the last week of your regular season or the first week of your playoffs -- either way, fantasy football owners are dialed in. Even though the point of this weekly feature is to consider the previously unconsidered, owners should play smart too; don't get cute on us, please.
Still, you're going to have to put your blinders on and really focus on what's happening. Have you realized how badly your weekly starter is struggling and how much that benchwarmer (or waiver-wire option) is just begging to leap into your lineup?
No? You should. They count extra from here on out. Onward...
• Need a sleeper wide receiver? Try Rod Streater
The Jets have given up some big receiving games to wide receivers in recent weeks -- and not necessarily some bigger-name players, either. Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham (Week 11), Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith (Week 12) and Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace (Week 13) each totaled at least 74 yards or scored, or did both. The longer that defense has been on the field, the more chance the big plays can open up against a secondary that has its share of coverage issues.
So that's why you have to consider the steadily improving Rod Streater. He has been solid -- four of the past five games with at least 57 yards, and only once fewer than 45 yards receiving since Week 4. The touchdowns total (two this season) leaves something to be desired.
But you could do worse than this matchup for a player who quietly is averaging nearly 55 yards per game and who has averaged a surprising 15.3 yards per catch. He might even be on the waiver wire in your league.
• Ladarius Green can start for you today
How many starting-caliber tight ends are there in the fantasy world? True, every-week starters. Six? Maybe Seven? Only seven tight ends are averaging more than 55 receiving yards per game, and only three have more than six touchdowns.
So with the early-season injury to Rob Gronkowski, the midseason injury to Jermichael Finley and the recent setbacks to Julius Thomas and Jordan Reed, it has been the position most fantasy owners have had to tap dance at, save for a few sure things.
That's why players such as Ladarius Green could end up being key factors down the stretch. He has been a force of late (and against solid defenses, too), tallying 81 and 80 yards in Weeks 11 and 12, respectively, and scoring each of the past two weeks.
This week's opponent, the Giants, have not let tight ends go hog wild against them. But they have been leaky in the red zone in recent weeks, allowing Jason Witten (two touchdowns) and even Logan Paulsen (one touchdown) score the past two games.
Add Green as great tight end insurance and be ready to play him if your starter is hurt, or suddenly in the gutter, a la Jordan Cameron.
• Temper your expectations for LeSean McCoy
The Detroit Lions have been murder on running backs lately. Simply, they have shut them down. Consider this amazing fact: The last running back to score on the ground against the Lions was Matt Forte ... in Week 4. Only one back of any kind -- Steelers fullback Will Johnson, on a one-yard catch -- has scored against them since Week 6.
That's why you have to wonder if LeSean McCoy is going to have a big game in this situation. Do you bench him? That would require quite a healthy running back situation on your team, not to mention some onions. But considering this matchup, McCoy's heavy workload (a career-high 22.6 touches per game) this late in the year and a history of some late-season low-yardage outputs, it wouldn't be the craziest idea ever.
The Lions haven't allowed a back more than 37 yards rushing since Week 5, and though McCoy has a good chance to surpass that, don't be stunned if he's held in check compared to his lofty standards.
• Consider Nick Foles as your starter from here on out
If you drafted Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick, you're likely considering other options for the playoffs. Luck might not kill you, Kaepernick might be on the bounceback with Michael Crabtree, and all of that. But with Foles as hot as he is -- he has outscored Luck, and even Russell Wilson, the past four weeks -- can you not consider him at this point?
Foles had been beating up on a slew of sub-par defenses for most of the season, and his earlier struggles against the Cowboys raised some concerns. But we're way past that now. Dicing up a good Cardinals defense shows that Foles is for real, and he has an even better chance to filet the Lions this Sunday.
It wouldn't be the first time a quarterback who started the season as his team's backup ended up winning fantasy titles for people.
• Should you bench Eric Decker? What about Wes Welker or Demaryius Thomas?
No team has clamped down on wide receivers like the Tennessee Titans this season. DeAndre Hopkins should feel pretty good about himself. The Texans rookie wideout, back in Week 2, is the only wideout to post a 100-yard receiving game against this team. Streater, mentioned above, tallied 93 against them in Week 12.
But other than those two, it has basically been nada. No touchdowns allowed to wideouts since Week 2 (Hopkins) and only six receivers -- including some expected characters -- have put up more than 55 yards against them since Week 2.
Look, we have a pretty good idea that the Broncos will put up some points, and tally some yards, this Sunday. But it's likely that only one of the Big Three -- Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker -- will do something worthy of fantasy praise. But two? Not likely, except in PPR leagues.
Now comes the million-dollar question: Which one? The gut feeling here is that you can't sit Thomas, not with his prolific production since Week 7. Welker has been a quiet producer of late, so he's a candidate to sit, except for perhaps some PPR leagues.
But don't automatically lock Decker into your lineup, either. Oh sure, he had four touchdowns last week, but there's no Marcus Cooper to pick on for the Titans. Decker, how quickly we forget, had a one-catch, five-yard game in Week 11, and he had a mere three scores coming into Week 12.
Don't underestimate the skill of this Titans defense, especially that secondary.
• Start Oakland's defense
We're at the point where whichever defense is playing the Jets instantly gains some serious fantasy cred. Geno Smith is getting another crack, but he has been a turnover fountain lately, with a league-worst 19 interceptions, plus four fumbles lost.
No, the Raiders have not been a great fantasy defense this season, but they have put up some respectable numbers: 31 sacks, 10 fumbles recovered and four defensive scores.
If you're desperate for defensive help, you could do a lot worse.
MORE WEEK 14 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Peterson could struggle against Ravens run defense
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Get an edge in your playoff matchup
SI STAFF: Weekly Roundtable -- Revealing our fantasy MVPs and LVPs
FARRAR: Injury impact -- Packers considering shutting down Aaron Rodgers?
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- Spiller finally comes through for his owners
BELLER: Early Week 14 Fantasy Advice -- Making sense of huge performances
Team Miglio -- 124.7
Team Edholm -- 110.2
On the one hand, I have finally taken a lead on Eric. On the other, I beat a team that laid three goose eggs by just 14 points. That is nothing to be proud of.
Still, with just a few weeks left in the season, things are looking good for Team Miglio. A game up with four to play means I could have a stranglehold on the season title by adding one more win to this improbable streak. Time to go in for the finishing move with Team Edholm reeling.
This week's fates are in the hands -- or more the legs, rather -- of my running backs. Lamar Miller and Chris Johnson are nice options, especially this late in the game. All that conservation was worth it, as I get to start a couple of relatively safe options. Miller has become Miami's lead back, and the Steelers have been pretty generous to opposing running backs. Johnson is quietly the No. 8 fantasy back in the land.
Of course, the rest of my lineup is one big craps shoot. I chose Donnie Avery first overall because there weren't many viable players that Eric hadn't already started, and he has a nice matchup against Washington this week. I am hoping Nate Burleson's goose egg last week means he will bounce back with at least a decent game. As for why I chose the Raiders, of all defenses, well... they play the floundering Jets. What's the worst that could happen?
This survivor format is both fun and harrowing.
This is why the survivor fantasy league we created this season is great: By Week 14 -- heck, earlier than that -- football knowledge and fantasy acumen is truly tested.
We're picking up scraps and pieces as best we can by now, or at least I am. If you've been following our saga, you know that Alex is the Carolina Panthers, and I am the Washington Redskins. Or maybe I am the Houston Texans. Whatever I am, it's in trouble for sure.
This week, I had to get sure points, and Nick Foles is my best chance. I took an upside pick with Montee Ball, and I am praying I don't have three -- THREE! -- receivers gain me a zero, as what happened last week. Even a few catches here and there by each, and I beat him last week.