by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:
Start – Eli Manning – New York Giants – vs. Dallas
Keep in mind that he comes in at #10 on our quarterback rankings, so we don’t want to dub him a must start option. The negative surrounding him is going to be his recent yardage, being under 200 yards in back-to-back games and having not topped 260 since the middle of October (10/16 against the Ravens, to be exact). That said he has thrown 2+ TD in five straight games (14 TD vs. 6 INT) and draws a Dallas defense that has allowed a league high 1,379 yards over the past four weeks (overall 20 TD vs. 4 INT). With Odell Beckham Jr. at his disposal we all know that Manning and the Giants offense can explode at any time, and given the matchup there’s reason to believe that they will in this one. As a low-end QB1 he’s well worth utilizing.
Sit – Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions – vs. Chicago
It would be easy to try and use a similar rationale to justify using Stafford, but it’s not quite that simple. Sure he faces the Bears, but Chicago has allowed just 804 passing yards over the past four weeks (and the sixth fewest overall this season, with an average of 236 per game). Stafford was terrible against them earlier in the season (213 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT) and he also hasn’t been throwing many TD, with 7 TD over his past six games. In single-quarterback formats there is definitely ample risk in utilizing him.
Start – Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
It would easy to be discouraged, after Hill averaged 1.8 and 1.4 yards/carry in his past two games. At the same time he draws as easy of a matchup as there is, with the Browns continuously being torched by opposing running backs (1,521 yards, the second most in the league). There’s little doubt that Hill is going to handle the early down opportunities and he did a lot of damage in limited opportunities against them earlier this season (168 yards and 1 TD on 9 carries). Feel comfortable firing him up as a RB2.
Start – Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Atlanta
It’s easy to be frustrated with Gurley, as he’s been one of 2016’s biggest disappointments. That said the potential is still there and the matchup against Atlanta could prove to be a positive one. They’ve actually allowed the most points per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks, and even if Gurley were to struggle running the football his ability to catch it should help him continue to produce (Atlanta has allowed 23 catches for 232 yards and 2 TD over the past four weeks and a league high 779 receiving yards to opposing RB on the season).
Sit – Tim Hightower – New Orleans Saints – at Tampa Bay
You would think that he had earned a steady role in the offense, but Hightower is coming off a game where he was given just 2 carries and caught 1 pass (9 total yards). Who knows if his role will grow again this week, as the team could easily lean on Mark Ingram, and it’s also a tough matchup (Tampa Bay has allowed the second fewest points per week to opposing running backs over the past four weeks). There’s simply too much risk involved.
Sit – Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
In PPR formats you can make the argument to utilize him (11 catches for 83 yards over the past two weeks), though Washington hasn’t been particularly prone to giving up big numbers to catching backs (437 yards, 2 TD on the season). The fact is it’s impossible to know how much run Sproles will actually get in any given week, regardless of the status of the rest of the backfield.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans – at Indianapolis
There is no question that Hopkins has been a significant disappointment this season, but he still gets opportunities and has a favorable matchup in what could be a high scoring affair. Also, don’t overlook the fact that Hopkins’ season high in catches (9) came against the Colts earlier this season. In fact, look at the numbers he’s hung on them since last season:
- 10/08/15 – 11 receptions for 169 yards
- 12/20/15 – 8 receptions for 94 yards
- 10/16/16 – 9 receptions for 71 yards
He finally found the end zone this past week and given the matchup and his history against them, this isn’t the time to get cute (depending on your alternatives).
Sit – Sammy Watkins – Buffalo Bills – vs. Pittsburgh
Sure he had 9 targets last week, but he managed just 3 catches for 38 yards against the Raiders and the matchup is certainly not the friendliest. You also have to wonder if he’s going to be back at full strength, or if the team could limit his snaps (and thus limiting his opportunities to produce).
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Malcolm Mitchell – New England Patriots – vs. Baltimore
While he didn’t find the end zone in Week 13, Mitchell caught 8 of 10 targets for 82 yards as he continues to grow in the offense. With Rob Gronkowski out and with New England taking on one of the premier run defenses in the league, there’s every reason to believe that Mitchell’s role is going to continue. While you can never really predict what New England is going to do, in deeper formats Mitchell is going to be a solid play.
Sit – Taylor Gabriel – Atlanta Falcons – at Los Angeles
He’s been relatively productive for five straight weeks, including 5+ targets in four straight. That said he hasn’t eclipsed 75 yards in any of these games and if he’s held out of the end zone he’s going to be a drag on your team. There’s simply too much boom or bust to trust him.
Start – Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
Over the past three weeks Ertz has seen targets of 11, 6 and 15. Sure we’d like to see a little bit more production with those opportunities, and Jordan Matthews could return, but it’s become obvious that Ertz has finally carved out a significant role in the offense. Over the past four weeks the Redskins have allowed the sixth most yards to opposing tight ends (304), making Ertz a good bet to produce once again.
Sit – Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots – vs. Baltimore
He’s banged up, which hurts his value alone, and even if healthy how do we trust him? Just look at what he’s done over the past three weeks:
- 1 reception for 14 yards
- 3 receptions for 22 yards
- 2 receptions for 4 yards
While he’s had a few big games, he’s been a disappointment far more often.
Sources – NFL.com, Yahoo!, ESPN
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 14 rankings: