by Phong Ta
For most fantasy owners, Week 14 is a crucial time of year. It’s the final week to try to secure a playoff spot as most Fantasy Leagues traditionally have their 2 Week Playoffs in Weeks 15 and 16 as a means to avoid potentially having starting players out of lineups because, in reality, their teams are resting them up for the actual Playoffs. As such, we most certainly cannot afford to not put forth the best lineup our rosters are capable of. So with that in mind, onto the list:
RBs to Start in Week 14:
Anybody who owns Mark Ingram this season can tell you he has been a HEADACHE. In 12 games, he’s failed to reach double digits in Standard Leagues in 7 different games, and he even included a game where he had NEGATIVE points scored against Seattle.
The problem with simply benching him though is that in 4 of the 5 games where he reached the double digit mark in points scored, he had at least 16 points, including performances of 29.1 and 28.7 points scored. The upside is most certainly there with Ingram, and against Tampa Bay, it would be wise to gamble on it.
The Bucs showed some dents in their defensive armor against a Top offensive outfit in the Chargers last week, and also allowed Melvin Gordon to score 19.8 Fantasy points off of them. With the Saints having just been shut down offensively last week, I think Sean Payton, Drew Brees, and the Saints offense will be looking to score a 50 burger, just to show everyone it was a fluke. Bet high on Saints players this week in Fantasy, and that includes Ingram.
Yeah, I know, those of us who believed Hill would bounce back have been only half-right. Despite ranking as the RB17 in Standard Leagues, he’s rushed for over 100 yards just once this year, and it’s clear he’s still not back to the level of play he showed as a rookie. However, if there’s any week that he’s gonna rush for 100 yards yet again, it’s this week against the Browns.
As one would probably expect, the Browns aren’t exactly very good on defense. They are especially poor against the run, giving up the 2nd most Rushing YPG while also giving up the 2nd most Fantasy points to opposing RBs as well.
This is a great recipe for Hill to finally crack that 100 yard barrier for just the 2nd time this season, particularly with A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard out. Hill is going to see plenty of work against Cleveland. Also worth noting is that the Browns are also the team he rushed for over 100 yards against earlier this season (he ran for 168 yards), so he knows how to attack that defense. If Hill can’t make it work against the Browns, I’m out of things to say.
I’ll admit that this is the pick I’m least confident in. Michael has not looked anywhere near as good over the past 2 months as he did early on, but revenge is a powerful motivator in the NFL, and Michael will be looking to show the Seahawks what they’re missing out on this weekend.
It doesn’t hurt that Earl Thomas will be out for the Seahawks, and Michael Bennett, while expected to play, will in all likelihood either be worked in slowly and/or be rusty. The Packers’ offense also seems to have finally found its groove thanks in part to the return of Jordy Nelson to near top form, which will give Michael further room to work with out of the backfield.
Christine Michael is certainly a gamble this week, but if you’re looking for a more unconventional pick due to a lack of RB depth on your roster, Michael is your guy.
RBs to Avoid in Week 14:
Yeah, I know, I probably sound like a crazy person for suggesting you bench the 6th ranked RB in Standard Scoring Leagues, but hear me out for a second before you start laughing (assuming you aren’t already).
1) Blount is playing against the Ravens this week, who have given up the fewest Fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. And that’s not just from getting lucky either, their run defense is no joke, with a separation in Rush YPG against between the 1st Place Ravens and 2nd place of 8.4 YPG being even larger than the separation 2nd and 3rd place of 6.9. The Ravens are not a favorable matchup and should be avoided if you have the RB depth to do so.
2) The Pats have traditionally struggle against the Ravens the past few years. Not struggle as in they always lose to them (the series is split 3-3 since 2012), but moreso in that the offense has had its difficulties. In 3 of 6 games against the Ravens since 2012, the Pats offense has scored just 23 or fewer points, and considering that they are also working without the services of Gronk this time around, a low scoring affair on the part of the Patriots seems likely. Not to mention Blount has scored just once the past 3 games, and that score was quite lucky on his part, coming from 43 Yards out.
Yet another solidly producing RB I’m advising you stay from, and for good reason. Ever heard of Khalil Mack? Yeah, well, that guy has been a on a tear of late, taking down QBs for Sacks and RBs behind the line of scrimmage like a hungry bear would go after fish in a river.
Not to mention Spencer Ware is a relatively TD dependent player. In Standard Scoring Leagues, when Ware has scored a TD he has reached 10+ Fantasy points in all 4 games. The other 7? He failed to reach the 10 point barrier even once.
Much like with Blount, I can understand if you decide to take the risk and play him anyway, but if you have the RB depth, consider sitting him this week.
And yet again another Top 15 RB I’m suggesting you avoid this week. Much like with Blount though, this has a lot more to do with the matchup than anything else.
The Ravens are giving up the fewest Fantasy points to RBs this season. The team giving up the 2nd least? The Cardinals, who Ajayi happens to be facing this week.
After a blistering 3 week showcase where Ajayi averaged 176 Rushing YPG and put up 4 TDs, he has slowed considerably over the past month, dropping down all the way to just 66 Rushing YPG and scoring just once over his past 4 games. I find it hard to believe that he’ll be doing any better this week against a stingy Cardinals’ run defense.