The fantasy football playoffs are here in virtually every league, and start ’em, sit ’em decisions are getting more agonizing than ever. SN NFL writer Vinnie Iyer is here to help with lineup advice on who to start ahead of Week 14’s slate of must-win matchups. He also offers up DFS picks and potential busts to avoid.
As always injuries are a big worry this time of year, and heading into Week 14, here are the key players to keep tabs on: Dalvin Cook (chest/shoulder), Adam Thielen (hamstring), T.Y. Hilton (calf), Marlon Mack (hand), Matt Breida (ankle), James Conner (shoulder), JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), Damien Williams (ribs), Darrel Williams (hamstring), Jordan Howard (shoulder), Julio Jones (shoulder), Austin Hooper (knee), Evan Engram (foot), Golden Tate (concussion), Gerald Everett (knee), David Njoku (wrist), Greg Olsen (concussion), and Kalen Ballage (leg).
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start ‘Em: Quarterbacks
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (at NE), Lamar Jackson, Ravens (at BUF), Deshaun Watson, Texans (vs. DEN), Russell Wilson, Seahawks (at LAR), Dak Prescott, Cowboys (at CHI)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (vs. NYG). Philadelphia’s offense returned to effective pass-happy ways against the Dolphins, and it can continue against the Giants at home on Monday night.
Tom Brady, Patriots (vs. KC). They will try to run on the Chiefs at home, but with Patrick Mahomes on the other side, Brady will need to chuck more and can easily get to 300 yards and two TDs with his short-to-intermediate passing volume.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. DET). They can run well on the Lions, but that should open him up for an efficient, semi-prolific day with multiple red-zone scoring throws.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (vs. IND). The TD-less, INT-less, 268-yard day against the Jaguars was an anomaly based on goal-line punch-ins and a rare big lead. He’ll go back to tossing it around well against the Colts with more receivers involved.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (vs. CIN). He’s done well in these favorable matchups, especially at home, so he’ll rebound nicely with about 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacoby Brissett, Colts (vs. TB). The Buccaneers have looked like a good matchup for Matt Ryan and Nick Foles, but neither took advantage. Brissett will be helped by a strong offensive line and needing to throw to diverse weapons who can get open everywhere.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (at NO). You can’t run well on the Saints, so expect the 49ers to need to throw more to win a big game for their playoff implications. They will scheme to get Garoppolo to take advantage of the best matchups.
Sam Darnold, Jets (vs. MIA). Here we go again. The Dolphins were bad enough to end a much longer slump for Wentz, and the Jets do play much better at home.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (at OAK, $5,800 on DraftKings, $7,300 on FanDuel). He keeps on doing the multiple-TD thing, and he should have no problems making big pass plays here playing off the run and also doing some good running himself on the road.
Devlin Hodges, Steelers (at ARI, $5,900 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel). When Duck meets the Cardinals, he will be aggressive and throw downfield against a terrible pass defense off play-action, giving you about 250 yards and two touchdowns and allowing you to stack your lineup elsewhere.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (at NYJ), Andy Dalton, Bengals (at CLE), Kyle Allen, Panthers (at ATL)
Fantasy Football Week 14 Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks
Drew Brees, Saints (vs. SF). He can struggle here after not putting up pleasing-enough digits against the Falcons on the road against a much better pass defense at home.
Josh Allen, Bills (vs. BAL). He needs to rely on a lot on his legs to produce anything of note here, as the Ravens’ secondary can make this an ugly offensive game for the Bills.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (vs. PIT). The Steelers’ defense is on fire, and he went cold at home after the bye.
Jared Goff, Rams (vs. SEA). That was a nice get-well game against the Cardinals, but the Seahawks’ pass defense can be trickier than you think on Sunday night.
Matt Ryan, Falcons (vs. CAR). He’s got a limited ceiling with or without Julio Jones, and the Falcons might be more about trying to exploit the Panthers’ run defense.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (vs. LAC). Minshew Magic might help them get a real win, but it’s been hard to get anything done through the air on the Chargers all season.
Philip Rivers, Chargers (at JAX). You can’t go here to trust him on a long road trip, as this should be more about the running backs and defense.
Derek Carr, Raiders (vs. TEN), Daniel Jones, Giants (at PHI)
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start ‘Em: Running backs
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (at ATL), Dalvin Cook, Vikings (if he plays, or Alexander Mattison, vs. DET), Saquon Barkley, Giants (at PHI), Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (vs. BUF), Aaron Jones, Packers (vs. WAS), Derrick Henry, Titans (at OAK), Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (vs. LAC), Alvin Kamara, Saints (vs. SF), Nick Chubb, Browns (vs. CIN), Le’Veon Bell, Jets (vs. MIA), Mark Ingram, Ravens (at BUF), Josh Jacobs, Raiders (vs. TEN), Todd Gurley, Rams (vs. SEA), Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, Chargers (at JAX), Chris Carson, Seahawks (at LAR), Joe Mixon, Bengals (at CLE), Devin Singletary, Bills (vs. BAL)
Miles Sanders, Eagles (vs. NYG). We’ll see about Jordan Howard (shoulder) returning finally, but Sanders should still get plenty of key touches regardless in a very favorable home prime-time spot.
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos (at HOU). They should run a lot on a Texans’ run defense that has been exposed of late.
Sony Michel and James White, Patriots (at KC). Michel looked good against the Texans until game script let him down, but New England should feed him more at home. White was revved up as a vital receiver in the offense last week and we should see more of the same against a Kansas City defense that’s very giving to running and receiving backs.
David Montgomery, Bears (vs. DAL). He was trusted as a feature back in Week 13, and the Cowboys are having all kinds of trouble with backs here of late without Leighton Vander Esch.
Benny Snell Jr., Steelers (at ARI). He’s looked awesome as their power back and James Conner (shoulder) is, at best, questionable to return. With 20 more carries, Snell can eat up the Cardinals’ defense.
Kareem Hunt, Browns (vs. CIN). He got more snaps than Chubb because of game script last week, and he should see plenty of work here against a bad run defense as the Browns simplify their offense to get a home win.
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks (at LAR). This is looking like the best-case rotation with him and Carson, and the Rams are nothing special vs. the run.
Patrick Laird, Dolphins (at NYJ). The Jets are good against the run, but he’s Miami’s best healhty option and New York does give up a ton of receiving production to the position.
Derrius Guice, Redskins (at GB, $4,900 on DraftKings, $6,300 on FanDuel). He’s become game-script proof with his explosive running and receiving, not needing many touches or snaps to produce, and he should be busy here in some form against the weak Packers front seven.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons (vs. CAR, $5,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel). Start your backs against the Panthers. Freeman looked good in his return on Thanksgiving and should be full speed ahead with featured volume in a great matchup at home.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Sit ‘Em: Running backs
Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida (if he plays), 49ers (at NO). Coleman has done almost nothing since the Panthers explosion. Mostert has looked the best, but Breida could come back from his ankle injury this week. All that said, this is an unpredictable committee, and the Saints’ run defense is very tough.
Kenyan Drake and David Johnson, Cardinals (vs. PIT). They have been Kliff Kingsburied in terms of fantasy value, and the Steelers’ run defense won’t help one lick.
LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson, Chiefs (at NE). Darrel Williams (hamstring) is joining Damien Williams (ribs) on the shelf, leaving the veteran-rookie committee to work against a tough Patriots defense. We’ll pass on both as KC will go pass-happy with its QB here.
Bo Scarbrough, Lions (at MIN). The Vikings’ run defense that showed up in Seattle won’t be the one they field again back home.
Jamaal Williams, Packers (vs. WAS). The Redskins did a number on Christian McCaffrey, and it’s tough to trust either Packers’ back in any given week, especially Williams because of limited TD opportunities.
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. Texans (vs. DEN). The usage here is weird from week to week, making both backs unusable in a tough spot against the Broncos front.
All Colts (at TB) and all Buccaneers (vs. IND). Your guess is as bad as ours in where Frank Reich and Bruce Arians will go with their backfield committees with the dreaded “cold-hand” approach.
Latavius Murray, Saints (vs. SF). It seems to be suddenly Taysom Hill SZN, and that kills his value of red-zone pop behind Alvin Kamara, especially in a bad matchup.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start ‘Em: Wide receivers
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (vs. DEN), Michael Thomas, Saints (vs. SF), Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (at NE), Davante Adams, Packers (vs. WAS), Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (vs. IND), Julio Jones (if he plays) and Calvin Ridley, Falcons (vs. CAR), Keenan Allen, Chargers (at JAX), Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Vikings (if he plays), Vikings (vs. DET), Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (at LAR), Kenny Golladay, Lions (at MIN), Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Cowboys (at CHI), Jarvis Landry, Browns (vs. CIN), Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, Rams (vs. SEA), Allen Robinson, Bears (vs. DAL), D.J. Moore, Panthers (at ATL), Julian Edelman, Patriots (vs. KC), D.J. Chark, Jaguars (vs. LAC), DeVante Parker, Dolphins (at NYJ), Courtland Sutton, Broncos (vs. LAC), T.Y. Hilton, Colts (if he plays, at TB), John Brown, Bills (at DAL), Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (vs. NYG)
Marvin Jones Jr., Lions (at MIN). The Vikings are still giving up plenty to wide receivers, and there’s a good chance he scores again in garbage time.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (at ATL). He got hot with Kyle Allen in a favorable spot and should keep it going here on the fast track of Atlanta in very favorable downfield coverage.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals (at CLE). Boyd is back in business the past two weeks, and Andy Dalton’s return helps him against an underachieving secondary.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks (at LAR). He has been solid when not fumbling, and he should avoid the Jalen Ramsey shadow away from Lockett.
Mike Williams, Chargers (vs. JAX). He’s been relying on big plays, but he came through against the Broncos and Jacksonville’s secondary isn’t scary anymore.
Zach Pascal, Colts (at TB). He’s the best option in a great matchup should T.Y. Hilton (calf) need to miss another game.
Robby Anderson, Jets (vs. MIA). He’s suddenly red hot with Sam Darnold like it was late 2018, and the Dolphins cannot contain him anywhere.
Allen Lazard, Packers (vs. WAS). He’s emerged as Rodgers’ top No. 2 receiver after Davante Adams.
Sterling Shepard, Giants (vs. PHI). He’s the best bet to do damage on them outside for Daniel Jones.
Odell Beckham Jr., Browns (vs. CIN, $6,300 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel). This is where we’re at with him. You are forced to start him in seasonal, but he’s optional in DFS. His value has gone way down, but the Bengals give up a ton of big plays to speedy, outside No. 1s.
James Washington, Steelers (at ARI, $6,000 on DraftKings, $6,700 on FanDuel). Washington has a great connection with Devlin Hodges and is a sneaky tournament stack with his rookie QB after two big games. The Cardinals can’t keep up with him, regardless of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s iffy status.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers (at NO, $5,600 on DraftKings, $6,00 on FanDuel). They do a great job to scheme the rookie open all over the field, and he should avoid a Marshon Lattimore shadow. He’s been very good, and the passing volume says he will be produce.
Anthony Miller, Bears (vs. DAL), A.J. Brown, Titans (at OAK)
Fantasy Football Week 14 Sit ‘Em: Wide receivers
Emmanuel Sanders, 49ers (at NO). He doesn’t look to be at full speed, and he may get the Lattimore treatment.
Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (vs. PIT). This defense is very good, from the pass rush to the coverage.
Brandin Cooks, Rams (vs. SEA). He’s likely to be bottled up downfield like Stefon Diggs was.
Dede Westbrook, Jaguars (vs. LAC). They have the secondary to slow him down in the slot.
Will Fuller, Texans (vs. DEN). The Broncos gave up a deep shot to Mike Williams, but they will contain Fuller here.
Jamison Crowder, Jets (vs. MIA). He’s suddenly fallen out of target favor with so many weapons being used around Sam Darnold.
Tyrell Williams, Raiders (vs. OAK). We think Derek Carr forgot about him, and this matchup isn’t great.
Terry McLaurin, Redskins (at GB). He’ll probably get Jaire Alexander in coverage, and the chemistry isn’t there with Dwayne Haskins, shockingly.
Cole Beasley, Bills (vs. BAL). He’ll be erased by Marlon Humphrey the way Cooper Kupp was.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start ‘Em: Tight ends
George Kittle, 49ers (at NO), Travis Kelce, Chiefs (at NE), Darren Waller, Raiders (vs. TEN), Zach Ertz, Eagles (vs. NYG), Jared Cook, Saints (vs. SF), Hunter Henry, Chargers (at JAX), Austin Hooper, Falcons (if he returns, vs. CAR)
Jack Doyle, Colts (at TB). Doyle is living large again with no Eric Ebron (ankle) and maybe more of no T.Y. Hilton (calf). The matchup is smashable, too.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (vs. DET). We’ll see about Adam Thielen (hamstring), but he’s been a red-zone machine again for Kirk Cousins, and the Lions can’t cover him near the goal line.
Tyler Higbee, Rams (vs. SEA). We’ll see about Gerald Everett (knee), but if Higbee is flying solo again here he will remain third in the pecking order behind Robert Woods and Coopeor Kupp in a very beatable matchup.
Greg Olsen or Ian Thomas, Panthers (at ATL). Olsen is battling a concussion and may not go here, so Thomas would be a sneaky plug-and-play.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (at NYJ). This matchup on paper is bad, but there’s a good chance the Jets won’t have Jamal Adams (foot), creating a huge coverage hole in the middle of the field.
Vance McDonald, Steelers (at ARI, $4,300 on DraftKings, $5,800 on FanDuel). Higbee proved that any tight end of note can burn the Cardinals for fantasy production, even when they haven’t done much before. McDonald should be the latest visitor to the end zone against a historical bad defense vs. the position.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Sit ‘Em: Tight ends
Mark Andrews, Ravens (at BUF). He got his TD against the 49ers in a tough spot, but the Bills might be tougher here on the road.
Dallas Goedert, Eagles (vs. NYG). The Giants are better than you think against the tight end, and Zach Ertz should be healthier to do more here.
Jacob Hollister, Seahawks (at LAR). The Rams’ linebackers and safeties are decent in coverage, so they can contain him.
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (vs. IND). He did something of note against the Jaguars, but you absolutely cannot trust him here.
Kaden Smith, Giants (at PHI). He’s been a fine rookie supersub, but the the Eagles typically give up more production on the outside to wideouts.
Fantasy Football Week 14 Start ‘Em: Defenses
Vikings (vs. DET), Packers (vs. WAS), Steelers (at ARI), Ravens (at BUF), Texans (vs. DEN), Eagles (vs. NYG), Browns (vs. CIN), Panthers (at ATL), Falcons (vs. CAR)
Titans (at OAK, $2,600 on DraftKings, $4,400 on FanDuel)
Fantasy Football Week 14 Sit ‘Em: Defenses
49ers (at NO), Saints (vs. SF), Patriots (vs. KC), Bills (vs. BAL), Cowboys (at CHI), Bears (vs. DAL), Chiefs (vs. NE), Rams (vs. SEA), Chargers (at JAX), Colts (at TB), Jets (vs. MIA), Dolphins (at NYJ)