NFC South Fantasy Football Tips - Week 14 (SNN/NFL Huddle)
Kyle T. Mosley
For most leagues, Week 14 is the start of the playoffs. Congrats if you are in because you cannot win it unless you are in it! With that said, every decision is critical and you can stick with the player that got you there or decide to get too cute; go with your gut; or step out on a limb. Regardless to what you decide, win or it is WTNY (Wait Till Next Year)!
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday 1:00 PM EST)
Start: QB Drew Brees, WRs Michael Thomas, RB Alex Kamara, TE Jared Cook, K Will Lutz
Flex: QB Taysom Hill, RB Latavius Murray
Sit: WR's Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith
Significant injuries: RB Zach Line (knee), OT Tyron Armstead (Ankle). LB A.J. Klein and Kiko Alonso
Start Drew with caution. The 49ers give up 143 passing yards per game and have allowed only 12 passing touchdowns all season. If you have a better option, this is a week where you can go with your gut and sit Drew without any second-guessing.
A slow day for Drew could also mean limited fantasy value for Michael Thomas. The 49ers corner backs do not travel with WRs. This could mean Michael getting favorable match ups depending on where he lines up on the line of scrimmage. Look for Sean Payton to get creative and exploit the 49ers' aggressive defense with a lot of short passes for WRs and an occasional double move to stretch the field. The 49ers pass rush coupled with injuries to the left side of the Saints offensive line will dictate that Drew must throw the football out even faster than last week.
Alvin Kamara has not scored a touchdown since week 3. However, you can expect Sean to have a heavy dose of running in the game plan to neutralize the 49ers pass rush. I do not expect Murray’s role to change much. You can expect 7 to 10 touches.
This week is a matchup of two NFC titans and I do not mean Tennessee. The under for this game is 44 with the over being 46. Lean toward the under. Both teams want to run the ball and control the clock. This could lead to fewer possessions and fewer points. However, on the flip side, this could mean a lot of carriers for Kamara and Murray. Whichever team wins in the trenches will win on the field and parlay a great day for your fantasy team.
Carolina Panthers at Falcons (Sunday 1:00 PM EST)
Start: QB Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley
Flex: RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones
Sit: RB's Qadree Ollison and Brian Hill, and WR Russell Gage
Significant injuries: WRs Julio Jones (Shoulder) TE Austin Hooper (MCL)
Look for the Falcons to exploit a week Carolina rushing defense. For the year, the Panthers defense has allowed 19 rushing touchdowns. Having both defensive tackles out will not make it easier this week. The Panthers gave up 242 yards to the Redskins last week and have given up 22 touchdowns to running backs through 12 games. Despite these facts, starting Devonta Freeman only rises to a flex play for the week. I expect him to score, but his volume will be limited as he continues to share snaps with Ollison and Hill.
Ryan’s numbers have been good, but not good enough to start in the fantasy playoffs. The lingering injury to Julio makes starting Matt Ryan a start only if you do not have any better options. Expect Julio to play, but pay attention to any breaking news and be ready with an option if he is ruled out. I recommend him as a flex option solely because he has not scored a touchdown in the last eight games and have put up pedestrian numbers against the Panthers over the last two years (5 catches and 61 yards).
If you have to start a Falcons receiver, go with Calvin Ridley. Having Julio back will make his value even greater this week. He has scored in his last three games against the Panthers.
Start: RB Christian McCaffrey, WR DJ Moore
Flex: Leave everybody else on the bench
Sit: QB Kyle Allen, WR Curtis Samuel
Significant injuries: DT Dontari Poe and Kawann Short, TE Greg Olson (Concussion protocol)
The last time these two teams lined up against one another, Kyle Allen had probably the worst game of his short career as a starter for the Panthers (no touchdowns and four interceptions). It has not gotten better the last few weeks.
Christian McCaffrey is a must start every week. In his last match up against the Falcons, he did not score a touchdown, but finished with 191 yards of total offense. You expect him to do all the heavy lifting with a rushing and receiving touchdown this week.
DJ Moore ranks 5th in the league, having 115 targets. I do not expect his volume to decrease this week despite playing against the improved play of Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver. I also expect DJ to get a couple of runs off jet sweeps. It is just a matter of time before he breaks a run for a long touchdown. Curtis Samuel has tremendous potential, but is being smothered out by catches from Moore and McCaffrey. Six targets in 10 of the last 11 games are good for the regular season, but not good enough for a playoff start.
The firing of Coach Rivera this week may motivate the Panthers to play hard. This is a divisional game with both teams are playing for pride. I expect both teams to be aggressive offensively.
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday 1:00 PM EST)
Start: QB Jameis Winston, WRs Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin
Flex: Cameron Brate
Sit: RB Payton Barber, RB Ronald Jones and TE OJ Howard
Significant injuries: None
Jameis did not throw for at least 300 yards for the first time last week and did not throw a TD for the first time all season. The odds favor him exceeding 300 yards and throwing at least 1 TD Sunday despite going up against the Colts 12 ranked pass defense.
If Jameis is on point, you cannot go wrong with starting Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. Someone has to catch the ball and the Colts give up almost 8 receptions and 1.5 TDs to WR1s. The Colts play a lot of zone coverage that bodes well for Godwin. Over the last three weeks, Godwin has 14 catches on 20 targets with 2 touchdowns.
The Colts have the ninth ranked rushing defense. This could make it tough going for both Payton Barber and Ronald Jones. Your guess is good as mine who gets the nod this week. Most likely, we will see a continued running back by committee approach. If you start either, expect less than 50 yards each and a TD dependent week with the potential for a short run.