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Week 14 fantasy football matchups preview

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New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Jets


Sam Darnold: Sit
Elijah McGuire: Sleeper
Isaiah Crowell: Sit
Jermaine Kearse: Sleeper
Quincy Enunwa: Beware
Robby Anderson: Beware
Chris Herndon: Sleeper
Jets DST: Sleeper

It appears that Sam Darnold is back on track to regain the starting job for the Jets but his previous body of work isn't enough to propel him back into your lineup. The player who could benefit from Darnold's return is slot receiver Jermaine Kearse. That's where a plurality of the throws in this passing game go. All other pass-catchers are dart throws, at best, against the Bills defense. Elijah McGuire is Gang Green's lead back and has a good matchup but he should be no more than a flex option in most situations. Despite Josh Allen's recent hot streak, the Bills still sport one of the league's worst offenses which makes the Jets a streaming option.

Bills


Josh Allen: Beware
LeSean McCoy: Flex
Robert Foster: Deep sleeper
Zay Jones: Sleeper
Charles Clay: Sit
Bills DST: Stream

Josh Allen has had consecutive big games but he also seems primed for major regression in the rushing totals that have made him relevant. Unless he makes a sudden, major upgrade as a passer, he continues to more risk than reward. Similarly, Buffalo's receivers have been equally hard to pinpoint -- maybe because the quarterback situation has been such a mess. Both Foster and Jones are huge dart throws. The Bills defense has had some nice weeks and have a plus matchup with the turnover-prone Darnold under center.

New York Giants at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Giants


Eli Manning: Sleeper
Saquon Barkley: Start
Odell Beckham, Jr.: Start
Sterling Shepard: Sleeper
Evan Engram: Start
Giants DST: Stream

Washington's defense has become a fairly sound fantasy foil in the latter half of the season. That doesn't mean you have to rush Eli Manning into your lineup if there are better options (and there probably are). Odell Beckham has stayed afloat despite Eli's struggles. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram haven't been so fortunate but the Washington secondary could help them out. With Mark Sanchez set to start at quarterback this week and Washington still dealing with injuries, this is a good week to stream the Giants defense.

Redskins


Mark Sanchez: Sit
Adrian Peterson: Beware
Chris Thompson: Sleeper
Josh Doctson: Sleeper
Jamison Crowder: Deep sleeper
Jordan Reed: Start
Redskins DST: Sit

The Washington offense seems to deteriorate by the week, sped along by injuries at key positions. The team is now on its third quarterback after Colt McCoy suffered a broken fibula and is dealing with a patchwork offensive line. That will make the sledding tough for Adrian Peterson, who, outside of his 90-yard TD run last week, had eight carries for eight yards. The Washington pass-catchers become untrustworthy with such an inconsistent signal-caller at the helm. It could, however, have a positive impact on the recently-returned Chris Thompson, who could serve as a valuable outlet when Sanchez faces pressure. Washington's defense has been poor and could only get worse if the offense can't sustain drives.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Saints


Drew Brees: Start
Alvin Kamara: Start
Mark Ingram: Start
Michael Thomas: Start
Tre'Quan Smith: Flex
Keith Kirkwood: Sleeper
Benjamin Watson: Start
Saints DST: Beware

After last week's fantasy flop against a tough Cowboys defense, this looks like a "get-right" game for the Saints. The Bucs have offered little resistance to opposing offenses in 2018, which is good news for Drew Brees and his merry band of playmakers. It's unlikely that you needed any real encouragement to start the likes of Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas but here we are. The only real concern would be starting the New Orleans defense against a top 10 scoring offense -- especially with Jameis Winston suddenly forgetting how to throw interceptions (one in his last three games).

Buccaneers


Jameis Winston: Stream
Peyton Barber: Sit
Mike Evans: Start
Chris Godwin: Flex
Adam Humphries: Flex
Cameron Brate: Start
Buccaneers DST: Sit

Few expected that the Buccaneers offense would be a fount of fantasy production this late in the season but Jameis Winston and a trio of pass-catchers have grabbed plenty of positive attention. In a game that should feature plenty of scoring, members of that Tampa quintet should again be a popular starting lineup additions. The enlarging of Cameron Brate's role has returned him to the fringes of the TE1 conversation at a time when added depth at the position is sorely needed. You can avoid Peyton Barber versus one of the top run defenses in the league. You can avoid the Bucs defense against everyone.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Patriots


Tom Brady: Start
Sony Michel: Start
James White: Start
Julian Edelman: Start
Josh Gordon: Flex
Chris Hogan: Sleeper
Rob Gronkowski: Start
Patriots DST: Stream

Starting Tom Brady recently has been no sure thing. The Patriots star is barely inside the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks and hasn't touched 20 points since Week 7. This week's matchup against a struggling Dolphins secondary could be what gets him back on track. Julian Edelman should continue to be a PPR maven while Josh Gordon oozes ceiling potential against a secondary likely missing Xavien Howard. New England's duo of backs should still be productive, even if the specter of Rex Burkhead looms. Gronk has still been inconsistent but his weekly potential at a thin position makes him difficult to sit. New England's defense is a streaming option versus a Dolphins offense that doesn't scare anyone.

Dolphins


Ryan Tannehill: Sit
Kenyan Drake: Flex
Frank Gore: Sleeper
DeVante Parker: Deep sleeper
Danny Amendola: Beware
Dolphins DST: Sit

Ryan Tannehill has been average at best in his return from injury ... although the same thing could be said of the Dolphins offense as a whole. The ever-frustrating Kenyan Drake always has a chance to be productive but we never know if Adam Gase will give him the requisite number of touches. As such, it's hard to project either of the Miami running backs. DeVante Parker seems to make one play every week that rekindles the idea that a breakout is coming but one play is not enough to warrant a fantasy playoff start. Besides that, there aren't any other Teal Warriors one should consider this week.

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Ravens


Lamar Jackson: Start
Gus Edwards: Flex
Ty Montgomery: Deep sleeper
Kenneth Dixon: Sit
John Brown: Beware
Michael Crabtree: Beware
Mark Andrews: Stream
Ravens DST: Sit

Starting offensive players against the Kansas City Chiefs has generally been a winning strategy. It's definitely good news for Lamar Jackson although it might not translate to his pass-catchers. John Brown has faded to irrelevance since Jackson took over, taking Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead with him. Jackson has had a propensity to throw to his tight ends with Mark Andrews leading the way in a very muddled tight end group. The Chiefs offense hasn't been kind to many fantasy defenses. Do you want to test them in a win-or-go home situation?

Chiefs


Patrick Mahomes: Start
Spencer Ware: Beware
Tyreek Hill: Start
Chris Conley: Deep sleeper
Travis Kelce: Start
Chiefs DST: Beware

This isn't a great matchup on paper for Mahomes and company but the Chiefs offense has found ways to produce against tough defenses before. If you're sitting the top scoring QB, WR, or TE in fantasy football, you'd better have a darn good line of reasoning. Chris Conley isn't going to find his way into a lot of lineups but could offer some production for those with stronger constitutions. One could make a case for tempering expectations for Spencer Ware against one of the tougher defenses in the league. Kansas City's defense had become a popular pick for a couple of weeks but fantasy managers should approach with caution in Week 14.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS


Colts


Andrew Luck: Start
Marlon Mack: Flex
T.Y. Hilton: Start
Chester Rogers: Sit
Eric Ebron: Start
Colts DST: Sit

The Colts are looking for a bounce back after being shut down by the Jaguars defense in Week 13. On paper, this matchup doesn't do them any favors. Andrew Luck should be considered a cautious start after seeing his hot streak end last week. That caution should extend to his top targets -- T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Marlon Mack is a flex option at best against a defense clamping down on running backs. Stay away from Indy's defense against an offense that is rolling right now.

Texans


Deshaun Watson: Start
Lamar Miller: Start
DeAndre Hopkins: Start
Keke Coutee: Flex
Demaryius Thomas: Beware
Ryan Griffin: Deep sleeper
Jordan Thomas: Deep sleeper
Texans DST: Beware

Deshaun Watson has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride lately but should get consideration against a middling Colts defense. Lamar Miller has become a solid RB2 during Houston's hot streak. We all know DeAndre Hopkins will be in your lineup but Keke Coutee should get a flex look. Demaryius Thomas, on the other hand, has been too inconsistent to trust in an important week. If you can correctly pick which Texans tight end will pop this week, kudos to you. Houston's defense has been outstanding this year but Indy's offense has the ability to wreck a defense at a moment's notice. Approach with caution.

Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Falcons


Matt Ryan: Beware
Tevin Coleman: Sit
Ito Smith: Sit
Julio Jones: Start
Calvin Ridley: Flex
Mohamed Sanu: Flex
Austin Hooper: Sit
Falcons DST: Sit

It might not officially be winter yet, but the Falcons offense has flown south. Matt Ryan is a terrifying start on the road at Lambeau Field. Atlanta's running game has been on a milk carton for weeks and can't be trusted any longer. Julio Jones is the only Falcon one can start with confidence ... even if he disappointed you last week. Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu are flex starts for the bold while Austin Hooper is far more floor than ceiling -- and the floor is scary low. Keep avoiding the Atlanta defense.

Packers


Aaron Rodgers: Start
Aaron Jones: Start
Davante Adams: Start
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Flex
Equanimeous St. Brown: Sleeper
Jimmy Graham: Beware
Packers DST: Stream

It's Game 1 A.M. (After McCarthy) and we'll see what the Packers offer. The good news is that they won't get a stout defensive challenge from the Falcons. This means Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams should eat with one of the secondary receivers -- likely MVS -- finding room to operate as well. Aaron Jones should see a course correction after being limited to just 11 carries last week versus a bad Cardinals run defense. Jimmy Graham remains a perilous start, even in a positive matchup. Green Bay's defense is worth a streaming look versus a struggling Falcons attack.

Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX


Panthers


Cam Newton: Start
Christian McCaffrey: Start
Devin Funchess: Flex
D.J. Moore: Flex
Curtis Samuel: Sleeper
Ian Thomas: Deep sleeper
Panthers DST: Sit

It's fair if you're concerned about Cam Newton's shoulder injury heading into Week 14 and the ripple effects it could have on the Panthers offense. But the matchup against the Browns defense is too good to completely avoid. Nonetheless, it's best to temper your expectations for the trio of Funchess, Moore, and Samuel. You should have no such concerns with Christian McCaffrey, who has become the focal point of the Carolina attack. With Greg Olsen gone for the season, Ian Thomas becomes an interesting sleeper play but only in deep leagues. The Panthers defense hasn't been worthy of starting for most of the season.

Browns


Baker Mayfield: Start
Nick Chubb: Start
Jarvis Landry: Flex
Rashard Higgins: Beware
Antonio Callway: Beware
David Njoku: Start
Browns DST: Sit

Baker Mayfield is likely to wake up feeling dangerous against a passing defense that has lost its way in the past six weeks. Hopefully it means Jarvis Landry can repeat his nice Week 13 outing. It's also means plenty of good opportunity for David Njoku. Freddie Kitchens was the best thing that happened to Nick Chubb this year. Hopefully that can counteract a Carolina defense that has been pretty good against running backs. The days of us believing in the Browns defense have passed. At least until next season.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS


Broncos


Case Keenum: Sleeper
Philip Lindsay: Start
Royce Freeman: Sleeper
Courtland Sutton: Start
DaeSean Hamilton: Sleeper
Tim Patrick: Deep sleeper
Matt LaCosse: Deep sleeper
Broncos DST: Start

The 49ers defense offers a world of possibilities for Broncos players to take advantage of. Philip Lindsay has become a weekly must-start while Courtland Sutton should have an expanded role in the wake of Emmanuel Sanders' season-ending injury. Nearly every other Denver skill position player comes with some amount of caution whether due to usage rates or underwhelming past performances. Denver's defense has been a solid unit all season long and has a very favorable matchup against a sputtering 49ers offense.

49ers


Nick Mullens: Sit
Jeff Wilson, Jr: Flex
Marquise Goodwin: Flex
Dante Pettis: Sleeper
George Kittle: Start
49ers DST: Sit

Last week, Mullens threw for more than 400 yards but much of that came in garbage time. Maybe it happens again this week but that's a difficult thing to bank on. With Matt Breida ruled out, Jeff Wilson is the undisputed starter in Week 14 and his ability as a pass-catcher will make it hard for game script to seriously impact his snaps. Dante Pettis had been a popular sleeper pick this week but Marquise Goodwin's return could tamp down some of that excitement. George Kittle's production has been diminished recently but his target share makes him tough to sit. The Niners defense, however, is pretty easy to sit.

Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS


Bengals


Jeff Driskel: Sit
Joe Mixon: Start
Tyler Boyd: Beware
John Ross: Sit
Cody Core: Sit
C.J. Uzomah: Sit
Bengals DST: Sit

Injuries have taken a toll on this offense to the point where it's hard to recommend starting anyone. Joe Mixon still gets a nod as the player who will dominate touches and Tyler Boyd will likely be flexed in plenty of leagues. The combination of a backup quarterback and a tough Chargers secondary makes the latter a difficult start. Putting any other Bengals in your fantasy lineup is either an act of desperation or bravery. Good luck.

Chargers


Philip Rivers: Start
Austin Ekeler: Start
Justin Jackson: Flex
Keenan Allen: Start
Mike Williams: Start
Tyrell Williams: Sleeper
Antonio Gates: Sit
Chargers DST: Start

The Bengals defense has offered little resistance this season and facing a quality offense like the Chargers won't make them any better. Philip Rivers has done a good job of spreading the ball around to a variety of pass-catchers, making secondary receivers like Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams viable options. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson should both see plenty of touches but occupy different roles and could both eat in the context of the scheme. Antonio Gates might be the only Chargers offensive player to be concerned about simply because his target share has been inconsistent. Against a patchwork offense, it would be malpractice to sit the Chargers defense.

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX


Lions


Matthew Stafford: Beware
LeGarrette Blount: Start
Theo Riddick: Sleeper
Kenny Golladay: Beware
T.J. Jones: Deep sleeper
Michael Roberts: Deep sleeper
Lions DST: Stream

Detroit's offense has underwhelmed but has produced some occasional fantasy gems. This week's shining star could be LeGarrette Blount, who will get a shot at one of the league's worst run defenses. Things might not be as sparkling for the Detroit passing game. Matthew Stafford has been a disappointment and a matchup against the Cardinals secondary could make he and his pass-catchers into duds for the week. The only exception might be Theo Riddick, who could be a safety valve. The Lions defense might get some streaming consideration against the league's worst-ranked offense.

Cardinals


Josh Rosen: Sit
David Johnson: Start
Larry Fitzgerald: Flex
J.J. Nelson: Deep sleeper
Ricky Seals-Jones: Deep sleeper
Cardinals DST: Stream

David Johnson has been the only consistently startable option in this offense. That will remain the same against a bad Lions run defense. There is some hope that Larry Fitzgerald will see a large target share now that Christian Kirk is on injured reserve. Beware anyone associated with an Arizona passing game that can't protect the quarterback and struggles to generate an aerial attack. The Cardinals defense isn't the worst option this week ... but it's also far from the best.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX


Steelers


Ben Roethlisberger: Start
Jaylen Samuels: Start
Stevan Ridley: Flex
Antonio Brown: Start
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Start
Vance McDonald: Start
Steelers DST: Start

The Steelers might be on a losing streak but their offense isn't to blame. This week's matchup with the Raiders figures to give Big Ben and company another opportunity to show out. There's little to fear by starting the pass-catching trio of Brown, Smith-Schuster, and McDonald. The intrigue is what the split will be between Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley but both players are expected to see a significant amount of work. Against the Raiders, both should get starting consideration. So should the Steelers defense against a Raiders offensive line giving up lots of sacks.

Raiders


Derek Carr: Sit
Doug Martin: Sleeper
Jalen Richard: Sleeper
Jordy Nelson: Sit
Seth Roberts: Sit
Marcell Ateman: Sit
Jared Cook: Start
Raiders DST: Sit

Several Raiders put up nice fantasy performances last week against Kansas City but this Steelers defense is a different animal. It's a strange world we live in when Jared Cook is the most trustworthy option on the roster. But here we are. Doug Martin has sleeper appeal that increases if Oakland can keep the game within a score later in the second half. None of the receivers have done enough to give fantasy managers confidence about starting them in the playoffs. The Raiders defense is not good and should not be on anyone's fantasy roster.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX


Eagles


Carson Wentz: Beware
Josh Adams: Beware
Golden Tate: Flex
Alshon Jeffery: Sit
Zach Ertz: Start
Eagles DST: Beware

Philly's offense has hit a rough patch and facing a good Dallas defense won't help things. Carson Wentz is a very cautious start, though you can likely find a better option on the wavier wire this week. Josh Adams has been a popular option but he's hardly trustworthy against a defense that shut down Alvin Kamara a week ago. Golden Tate seems to have found something in the offense and has some PPR appeal but the rest of the Eagles receivers are best left on the sideline. Then there's Zach Ertz. You're starting him, of course. Dallas' recent offensive upgrade makes the Eagles' defense a less-than-solid Week 14 option.

Cowboys


Dak Prescott: Start
Ezekiel Elliott: Start
Amari Cooper: Start
Cole Beasley: Flex
Michael Gallup: Sleeper
Blake Jarwin: Sit
Cowboys DST: Start

Dak Prescott has been a different quarterback ever since Amari Cooper arrived on the scene and both players are eminently startable every week -- especially against a Philly defense that is dealing with injuries in the secondary. Zeke? Yeah, you're starting him. But you could think about dropping Cole Beasley or Michael Gallup into your flex spot. The Dallas defense has been good all year but has really turned things up a notch during this recent winning streak.

Los Angeles Rams at Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC


Rams


Jared Goff: Beware
Todd Gurley: Start
Robert Woods: Start
Brandin Cooks: Start
Josh Reynolds: Beware
Gerald Everett: Beware
Tyler Higbee: Beware
Rams DST: Start

One of the league's best offenses faces a tough matchup against one of the league's best defenses. This could be a case of a quarterback not having a great week but the rest of his main playmakers turning out okay. Nevertheless, it would be wise to temper expectations on what could be a very cold night at Soldier Field. Mitchell Trubisky might be returning for the Bears ... but Aaron Donald still exists on this Earth and is still awesome. That should be all you need to know.

Bears


Mitchell Trubisky: Start
Tarik Cohen: Start
Jordan Howard: Beware
Allen Robinson: Beware
Anthony Miller: Sleeper
Taylor Gabriel: Sit
Trey Burton: Sleeper
Bears DST: Start

Mitchell Trubisky's return should add some value to the rest of Chicago's pass-catchers but they've been too untrustworthy overall to rely on in a big fantasy week -- especially with the Rams secondary fully intact thanks to Aqib Talib's return. Tarik Cohen has been maybe the only Bear you can start with any confidence. Jordan Howard has sleeper potential against a run defense that has struggled but you'd like to know he can score a touchdown before committing to him in your lineup. That's a tough draw. Speaking of tough draws, Trey Burton hasn't quite been the player we wanted him to be but maybe Trubisky can elevate him. The Bears defense doesn't need any more elevation to get a spot in your lineup.

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks, 8:15 p.m. ET (Mon.), ESPN


Vikings


Kirk Cousins: Start
Dalvin Cook: Start
Latavius Murray: Sleeper
Adam Thielen: Start
Stefon Diggs: Start
Kyle Rudolph: Deep sleeper
Vikings DST: Beware

Kirk Cousins will be the source of much fantasy consternation this weekend but Seattle's recent work against quarterbacks should give you confidence. Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs will continue to see plenty of work and will be key in plenty of lineups this week. Latavius Murray is a sleeper if he can get goal line carries. We've had one good week of Kyle Rudolph but that might not be enough for you to feel confident rolling with him. The Vikings defense hasn't been decent but a trip to visit a hot Seahawks offense could make for nervous times.

Seahawks


Russell Wilson: Start
Chris Carson: Beware
Rashaad Penny: Beware
Tyler Lockett: Start
Doug Baldwin: Flex
David Moore: Sleeper
Nick Vannett: Sleeper
Seahawks DST: Sit

Russell Wilson and the Seattle passing game have kicked things up a notch since the start of November and facing a beat-up Vikings secondary isn't likely to slow that roll. Minnesota, however, has been tough on running backs and that doesn't bode well for the rotation of running backs Pete Carroll's team has employed. The Seahawks defense has had a few nice weeks but this isn't a matchup that is worth exploring.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is thinking about taking the bus. Send him your tales of public transportation use via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook, and Instagram.

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