Fantasy football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: 15 players to start or sit in Week 14

It all comes down to this.

Week 14 marks the final week of the regular season in most fantasy football leagues, putting many fantasy managers in must-win situations in their efforts to make the playoffs. Make the wrong call on a particular lineup spot this week and you could be regretting it all offseason.

Even if you’re already comfortably in the postseason and just playing for seeding, it always helps to know how the matchups impact what we can expect to see happen on the field.

Here's who to start (and who to sit) for Week 14 NFL fantasy football.

Fantasy football quarterbacks to start in Week 14

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been much more willing to pull the ball down and run the past two weeks, with 21 total carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been much more willing to pull the ball down and run the past two weeks, with 21 total carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Wilson is coming off one of his worst passing days of the season, after throwing for just 186 years with three interceptions against the Texans. However, there’s a silver lining in his recent run of subpar performances: his rushing totals.

Wilson has had double-digit rushing attempts in back-to-back games – and has run for a touchdown in both. That can help him salvage a marginal day through the air, though he should be able to exploit a Los Angeles Chargers defense that’s yielded the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Going back to the well with Fields here, despite the Bears’ overall struggles on offense. Hopefully, he used the bye week to work on ball security so he doesn’t repeat the two lost fumbles he had in Week 12 against the Vikings.

The once-suffocating Lions defense has been more forgiving in recent weeks, yielding an average of more than 30 points per game since their Week 9 bye. That includes a game against the Lions in which Fields rushed for a season-high 104 yards. Look for him to have an even better day playing on his own home turf.

Fantasy football quarterbacks to sit in Week 14

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Against a tough Browns defense, Stafford threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns last week. One of the main reasons was the excellent protection he received from his offensive line, which did not allow a single sack

He’ll go up against another stout unit this Sunday, but it will be on the road in Baltimore – against a Ravens defense that’s the best in the NFL in getting to the quarterback (47 sacks). The Ravens allow the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs and will be fully rested after their bye week.

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

OK, actually benching the reigning NFL MVP is not something for the faint of heart. But it’s definitely time to start worrying about Mahomes’ ability to carry fantasy teams on his back. After another mediocre performance on Sunday night (210 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Mahomes just barely ranks inside the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks on the season.

A lack of quality receiving options beyond tight end Travis Kelce may finally be catching up with the superstar signal-caller, who will have to deal with a solid Buffalo Bills defense that’s also had a much-needed week off to prepare.

Fantasy football running backs to start in Week 14

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Regardless of the Giants’ offensive inconsistencies this season, Barkley has been extremely consistent in one regard: He’s been good against bad defenses and bad against good defenses. How stark is the difference? In three games against teams in the top 15 vs. running backs, he’s been held to an average of 7.5 fantasy points per game. In the other six games against bottom 15 teams, he’s averaging 20.3.

Coming off a bye, this looks like a boom week for Barkley against the Green Bay Packers, who rank 23rd against fantasy running backs and were just gouged for 123 total yards and a touchdown by the Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

For someone who was a first-round lock in drafts this summer, Ekeler has been a massive disappointment – ranking 27th among running backs in fantasy points through the first 13 weeks. Granted, he did miss three games due to injury but finding the end zone just five times all season is not what fantasy managers were expecting.

This past week, he rushed for a season-low 18 yards on 14 carries. So why the optimism? Last week’s debacle came in wet and rainy conditions at New England, when the Chargers only needed a pair of field goals to win. Look for Ekeler to rebound at home in a much more offensively minded game against the Broncos, who’ve given up the most fantasy points per game to running backs this season.

Fantasy football running backs to sit in Week 14

D’Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

Swift left last week’s game against San Francisco after taking a hard hit, so we’ll have to keep an eye on his status leading up to Sunday’s NFC East showdown in Dallas. However, even before he exited, Swift wasn’t really a factor in the Eagles game plan. He had just six carries for 13 yards and a pair of receptions for 7 yards.

The Cowboys are one of the most difficult matchups for running backs, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

Edwards’ 10 rushing touchdowns tie him for the third-most among running backs on the season. Nine of those have come in his last six games. However, he’s not touching the ball as much as he did earlier due to the emergence of rookie Keaton Mitchell.

Edwards had his five-game TD streak snapped in Week 12 when he only had eight carries – and was outsnapped by both Mitchell and Justice Hill for the first time all season. The Rams provide a tough matchup for running backs, especially when there are three of them (plus QB Lamar Jackson) in the mix.

Fantasy football wide receivers to start in Week 14

The Vikings will get star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, right, back this week. But that could open things up even more on the other side for rookie Jordan Addison.
The Vikings will get star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, right, back this week. But that could open things up even more on the other side for rookie Jordan Addison.

Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings

Star receiver Justin Jefferson returns this week after missing seven games with a strained hamstring. During the time he was out, Addison was able to gain some valuable experience and develop a solid rapport with new quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

As great as he is, Jefferson may need a bit of an adjustment period since Kirk Cousins was still starting when he was put on injured reserve. In addition, the Vikings may not push the envelope with Jefferson in his first game back. All that leaves an opening for Addison to thrive as the Las Vegas Raiders defense focuses its attention on Jefferson.

Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers

The rookie has shown flashes on several occasions this season, although he was mostly silent last week against Kansas City. However, fellow wideout Christian Watson left that game with a hamstring injury and will most likely be limited if he plays at all this week against the Giants.

With QB Jordan Love throwing multiple touchdown passes in each of his last four games, the Packers offense seems to be hitting its stride. Look for Reed to see more targets, and possibly get a couple rushing attempts as well.

Fantasy football wide receivers to sit in Week 14

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Keep an eye on QB Trevor Lawrence’s ankle this week in practice after he left Monday night’s game early. Even if the Jaguars don’t need to call on backup C.J. Beathard, it may be tough for Ridley to have success this week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have yielded the fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season – and with Jags WR Christian Kirk also expected to be questionable for Sunday’s game, they’ll be even more focused on keeping Ridley from making big plays.

Adam Thielen, Carolina Panthers

Thielen has been one of the best fantasy bargains this season, ranking among the top 15 wide receivers in PPR scoring. However, he’s been missing in action the past two weeks as the Panthers have undergone major changes in their coaching staff. The veteran has totaled a mere four catches for 27 yards over that span – and he faces another difficult matchup Sunday at New Orleans.

With rookie wideout Jonathan Mingo leading the team in Week 13 with 10 targets, it makes sense for the Panthers to look at their younger players down the stretch. That would relegate Thielen to a lesser role going forward.

Fantasy football tight ends to start in Week 14

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

With injury concerns all around, Hill remains a constant presence in the Saints offense. (Along with Alvin Kamara, of course.) Adding QB Derek Carr to the list of this week’s question marks only opens up more possibilities for the multifaceted Hill.

After rushing 13 times for 59 yards and a touchdown (and catching two passes for 15 yards) in Week 13, he could see a few more snaps at quarterback against the Panthers. More touches mean more opportunities to score against the team with the NFL’s worst record.

Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Call this one a hunch after Otton was held without a catch a week ago against the Panthers. Things should be different this time around against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has done a good job of shutting down wide receivers, but has been vulnerable to the tight end this season.

The Falcons have given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position and the second-most targets. It’s Otton’s best matchup since Week 9, when he caught a pair of touchdown passes against the Texans.

Fantasy football tight end to sit in Week 14

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week’s matchup vs. Arizona looked extremely appealing, but Freiermuth was held to three receptions for 29 yards. A quarterback change due to an injury to starting quarterback Kenny Pickett may have been partly to blame, but the Steelers won’t have much time to adjust with a short week on tap.

Despite their record, the Patriots have played surprisingly tough on defense, and they give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Look for Freiermuth to once again play a minor role.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fantasy football Week 14: NFL players to start or sit