Polak’s Picks: NFL Week 14 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
In his first start of the season, Taysom Hill had 20.66 fantasy points against the Dallas Cowboys. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.
They did it. The Detroit Lions are no longer winless. NFL fans rejoice as every team has had a time to celebrate.
While one win is great, from fantasy football, nothing compares to the significance of this week. This is the final week before the playoffs, so fantasy managers will be either filled with triumph or grief by Monday as teams are officially eliminated.
For those still grasping at the smallest of chances of sneaking in, I’m here to let you know that there is still hope. Here are the key players to start and sit for Week 14 of the NFL season.
Teams on a bye week: Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots
Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints. The swiss army knife quarterback returns as the starter for the New Orleans Saints once again. Fantasy managers know Hill all too well as last year he was the cheat code of a tight end and quarterback mix. While he may no longer hold the benefit of a tight end, Hill still has the potential for another breakout game against the New York Jets defense that has allowed the most yards per game in the league. Hill will be lined up for a big day against a wimpy Jets defense.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Why won’t he go away? Every time you blink, Brady finds another way to get better. Last week, Brady finished with another performance of 350 or more passing yards and four touchdowns. Whatever fountain of youth he has been drinking from will not help him this week though against the Buffalo Bills defense that has allowed the least passing yards per game in the league. While the Bills have to travel down south to face the “Goat”, it is time for Brady to have an underwhelming game against an elite defense.
D’Onta Foreman, Tennessee Titans. Since tragedy struck Nashville when their king Derrick Henry went down with a season-ending ankle injury, the Titans have been in search of a new running back. While they have mostly been splitting the carries, there has been one name that has stood out through Henry’s absence — D’Onta Foreman. In his last game against the Patriots, Foreman finished with 19 carries for 109 rushing yards. That is big production out of a backup running back and should only get greater this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards per game. Foreman is a sneaky waiver wire pick-up for fantasy managers in desperate need of a last-minute replacement.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals sit atop the NFL looking down at the other 31 teams and are only getting better. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins returned from injuries last week, and Edmonds will likely be joining them this week. With all the starters back for a team that already holds the best record in the league, this team looks downright unstoppable. However, from a fantasy perspective, Edmonds’ first game back might be underwhelming against a Los Angeles Rams defense that has allowed the seventh least rushing yards per game in the league. In such an important week in fantasy football, it is not worth the risk to start Edmonds.
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns. The Juice might need a refill. Ever since embarrassing the Bengals in Cincinnati, Cleveland has fallen off a cliff almost losing to the Detroit Lions two weeks prior. Still, Landry’s production has been on the rise at the perfect time. In their last game against the Baltimore Ravens, Landry finished with 111 receiving yards. Jarvis has been the only reliable receiver and ironically he will get another shot against the same Ravens defense this week. The Ravens may try and scheme against Landry, but there is no stopping the Juice once he gets loose.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons. Is hope in a Falcons fan vocabulary anymore? After all the pain and suffering this team has endured, NFL fans can do nothing but feel bad for them. When their top wide receiver in Calvin Ridley takes a mental health leave, it is obvious that there is something wrong. Even with Gage stepping up as the replacement, the Falcons will find a way to create disappointment. NFL analysts have been all over picking up Gage this week, but against the Panthers secondary that ranks second in least yards allowed per game, is it really worth it? This is a formal warning to think twice before jumping on the Gage hype train.
Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks. This season might be one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history. The Seahawks found a way to turn what was supposed to be another playoff year into tanking for a higher draft pick. Still, the Seahawks had a crazy upset against the San Francisco 49ers, so it is time to inject more false hope into the 12th man. Everett hasn’t played the best ball of his career either as he played a large part in all three of the Seahawks turnovers last week. Although, he will have a shot to bounce back this week against the Houston Texans defense that has allowed the fifth most total yards per game in the league. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Everett should be on all fantasy football managers’ radars.
Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay Packers. Wait, the Packers have a tight end? For the average football fan, ever since Robert Tonyan was placed on the injured reserve, the Packers’ tight ends have not made a name for themselves. Neither Lewis nor Josiah Deguara have caught more than three passes this season. This week, the Packers will face the Chicago Bears defense that has jumped to sixth in least receiving yards allowed per game. If a fantasy manager has a Packers tight end on their roster, just know that they will not be making the playoffs this year.
Brian Johnson, Washington, Football Team. Even on their third kicker of the season, the Footballs are finding a way to sneak away with more wins. After being picked up off the Chicago Bears practice squad, Johnson stepped up last week and drilled the game-winning field goal. Washington has flipped their entire season around and now holds a legitimate chance to make the playoffs once again. The one team standing in their way will be the Dallas Cowboys, but this week they won’t be under the roof of Jerry’s World. No matter who is kicking the ball for Washington, they have shown to contain some solid fantasy value.
Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals. Just when you want to give them hope and start believing in them, the Bengals find a way to flush it all away. The game went as badly as Joe Burrow’s finger looked after he dislocated it and still decided to keep playing. With the momentum all but gone for the Bengals, it is hard to trust them when the San Francisco 49ers come rolling into town. If Cincinnati continues to keep getting banged up, McPherson will have a harder time finding any opportunities to get on the field.
Dallas Cowboys Defense. For a Cowboys team that is usually the most hated upon, they are beginning to gain more respect this season than they have in a long time. While many may blame their offense for the recent success, it has been their sudden rise in individual performance out of their defense that has helped excel them to the next level. Trevon Diggs and rookie Micah Parson have had breakout seasons with Diggs leading the league with nine interceptions and Parsons leading all rookies with 10 sacks. Between the two young studs, the Cowboys defense is worth picking up against a Washington Football Team’s offense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in points per game.
New York Giants Defense. Following the theme of NFC East teams, the New York Giants are open the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Sitting at 4-8, the Giants focus on winning has gone out the window. When Mike Glennon is starting at quarterback in 2021, that is the Giants waving the white flag. The entire Giants roster has just looked ugly with not many bright spots. This week, life will only get worse for Giants fans as they face Justin Herbert and the high-flying Chargers offense fresh off a win where they scored 41 points. There is no reason the Giants defense should be rostered in any fantasy football leagues.