Dalton or Roethlisberger in the fantasy playoffs?

Unfamiliar with the SAP Player Comparison Tool? Well it's about time you get acquainted! The tool can be a great asset for those tough roster decisions, whether you're dealing with start/sit conundrums, trade comparisons, or decisions on which players to pick up on the waiver wire, you can benefit by learning the ins and outs of the customizable tool. This week in what we like to call Fantasy Football Audibles, we take a look at three player comparisons to help you take some of the guesswork out of those mind-boggling roster determinations.

Here's a quick primer in the factors that the SAP Player Comparison Tool takes into consideration when analyzing players:

»Performance:player performance (NFL statistics and Fantasy points) from the current season
»Matchup:opponent-specific fantasy points against (FPA) data and matchup analysis
»Consistency:stability of historical player fantasy point production
»Upside:potential for significant fantasy point performance
»Intangibles:additional factors including injury status, weather, game location, team support and player rest

Who should I start at QB: Andy Dalton or Ben Roethlisberger?

The Steelers will play the Bengals in an important AFC North battle this Sunday. That means two of fantasy's hottest quarterbacks will be going head-to-head in what could be one for the history books. Well, maybe that's a stretch. When these two teams faced each other back in Week 8, I was saying the same kind of thing but the game ended up being a disappointment for fantasy owners. Andy Dalton finished the game with 9.64 fantasy points and Ben Roethlisberger finished with an even lower 8.48 points with a combined five interceptions and only two touchdown passes between the two quarterbacks. But more recently, both signal callers are on fire for fantasy owners.

In his last three games, including two tough matchups against the Cardinals and Rams, Dalton posted fantasy totals of 22, 19 and 23 points. The Red Rifle is also first in the NFL in passer rating this season and has 25 touchdown passes with just six interceptions. Dalton managed to find ways to score touchdowns (two passing to A.J. Green, one rushing) last week without the presence of red zone monster Tyler Eifert, so it's not out of the question for him to post a solid line against a suspect Steelers secondary. But when the question involves Roethlisberger or Dalton, well ...

Big Ben is the leading man for the Steelers offense on a historic run over the last month in terms of offensive production. In his last four games, Roethlisberger posted fantasy totals of 21, 26, 22 and 33 points and is the QB2 over the last two weeks with 820 pass yards (most in the NFL), five touchdown passes and two interceptions in that span. His current rate of 338.4 pass yards per game would be the third highest mark in any season in NFL history. Roethlisberger obviously had some help along the way. His receiving corps of Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton is one of the most unstoppable trios in the league, and when you add DeAngelo Williams as a threat out of the backfield -- both running and catching the ball -- defenses have a difficult time figuring out how to cover all of Pittsburgh's playmakers. That gives Big Ben the upper hand in this comparison for Week 14.

Who should I start at RB: Todd Gurley or David Johnson?

I wrote in my streaming defenses article from earlier in the week that if there was ever a week to bench Todd Gurley in fantasy, it's his game against the Lions in Week 14. Detroit's defense allowed fewer than 70 rush yards in four straight games. Opposing teams held Gurley under 100 yards in each of his last five games and he did not score in two straight contests after scoring in five in a row. This week, the Rams fired their offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, but I'm not completely buying that he was the problem. The team just has little to no talent on offense other than their rookie running back. St. Louis lost their last two games by scores of 31-7 and 27-3 so the fact that Gurley only had nine rush attempts each in those games makes sense.

Opposing teams learned how to game plan around stopping the Rams' only offensive threat in Gurley, stacking the box and leaving him nowhere to run. In fact, he has just one run of 10 or more yards in his last four games. With the Lions run defense playing as well as it has, I just don't see a way you can start Gurley in fantasy this week, especially if you have a guy like David Johnson on your bench.

In his first career start last week, Johnson made the most of his time in the spotlight. He was the Cardinals feature back with playing time on 70 percent of the team's offensive snaps and collected 24 touches for 120 yards and a receiving touchdown in the game against the Rams. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said before the game that he wanted to get the rookie 25 touches, and that promise held true. Arians said basically the same thing this week ahead of Arizona's Thursday night matchup against the Vikings.

Minnesota's defense will be without three of its top playmakers, and some of the best players at their respective positions this season. According to ProFootballFocus, Linval Joseph (foot) is the No. 3 rated defensive tackle in the league this season, Harrison Smith (knee, hamstring) is the No. 3 rated safety in the league and Anthony Barr (groin, hand) is the No. 2 rated linebacker. All three were ruled out against the Cardinals, which bodes well for Johnson's chances of having a huge game here. Even if he only sees 15 touches, we know what this guy can do with limited opportunities. His ceiling for this game is virtually infinite and he's a much better play than Gurley for Week 14.

Who should I start at D/ST: Denver Broncos or Kansas City Chiefs?

If you own two of the season's best fantasy defenses it makes sense if you're stressing about which one to start in Week 14. Denver's defense is the NFL's No. 1 total defense (284.7 total ypg), lead the league in sacks (41), are the only team in the NFL to hold all of its opponents to under 30 points in every game this season and lead the league with five defensive touchdowns. The unit is also the only team in the league to not allow a 300-yard passer this season. So the Broncos seem like a no brainer for fantasy this week, right? Consider the opposing team, the Oakland Raiders. The last time these two teams met back in Week 5, Denver posted 20 fantasy points with four sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. Since then though, the Raiders offense has been firing thanks to the strong play from Derek Carr (although he threw three interceptions against the Chiefs last week).

If you own the Broncos defense, you're starting them this week. They're the best D/ST in fantasy by a wide 24-point margin. But if you happen to have the Chiefs defense on your bench, consider the following.

No defense scored more fantasy points over the last four weeks than the Chiefs (61 total, 15.25 average per game). In its last eight games, Kansas City allowed just 14.4 points per game to opposing teams, limited opponents to 307.8 total yards per game, has collected 25 sacks and has piled up 20 takeaways. They're the hottest defense in the league right now and a matchup against a Chargers offense that's in shambles couldn't be better.

San Diego's run game is virtually non-existent behind poor offensive line play, and the team's receiving corps is down to a one-armed Malcom Floyd, tight end Antonio Gates and rookie wideout Javontee Herndon as Philip Rivers' top targets. So while there's nothing wrong with starting the Broncos defense this week, if you also own the Chiefs D/ST they are the better matchup-based play.

Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. Check out the song "Stranger In A Room" by Jamie xx. You won't be disappointed. Hit Matt up on Twitter @MattFranchise for music recommendations and fantasy advice.

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