By Ted Rossman
In this section, we examine five strong but unheralded performances from the previous week and determine whether these players are likely to remain hot.
- Roderick Hood (CB, ARZ): Hood intercepted Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson twice in Week 13 and returned one of the picks for a 71-yard touchdown. He is a risky fantasy play, with no sacks all season, no interceptions in 10 of his 12 games and two or fewer tackles in half of his 12 contests.
- Larry Foote (LB, PIT): Foote made six tackles (two solo), forced a fumble and recorded a sack in Sunday's win over the Bengals. Two and a half of his three sacks have come in the last three weeks. Foote has seven or more tackles in each of his last four games and is coming on strong as IDP leagues near playoff time.
- Haloti Ngata (DT, BAL): He recorded a sack and tied his season-high with seven tackles in Monday's near upset of the Patriots. As defensive tackles go, Ngata's 52 tackles (34 solo) are solid. Give him a look if you need to boost your stats in that category, but remember that he has only two sacks all season.
- Josh Bullocks (S, NO): Bullocks made a career-high 12 tackles (10 solo) in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers. However, he is averaging only four tackles per game in his career during Weeks 14-17 -- perhaps he runs out of gas late in the season. Take that into account when considering Bullocks for a roster spot down the stretch.
- Stephen Cooper (LB, SD): He led the Chargers with 10 tackles (seven solo) in Week 13 and also contributed a sack. Don't overreact to this resurgence; Cooper's lowest three tackling totals of the season came in Weeks 9-12.
Here, we look at trends and matchups that savvy owners can exploit in the upcoming week.
- The Falcons (vs. New Orleans), Rams (at Cincinnati), Panthers (at Jacksonville), Buccaneers (at Houston), Texans (vs. Tampa Bay), 49ers (vs. Minnesota) and Chiefs (at Denver) face uncertain or undesirable quarterback situations in Week 14 because of injuries, ineffectiveness or both. All of those opposing defenses warrant an upgrade in Week 14.
- The league's worst offenses (in terms of points per game) are San Francisco, Atlanta and Kansas City. Those teams, respectively, play host to Minnesota, play host to New Orleans and play at Denver in Week 14.
- Earlier in the season, we told you teams often fare better following a bye week. Now that bye weeks have concluded for the season and Thursday games have begun, it's time to point out the teams that have unusually short weeks. This week, those teams are Chicago and Washington. It will be a particularly tough task for the Redskins, who flew to Miami on Monday to mourn their late teammate, Sean Taylor, just hours after losing an excruciating one-point decision to Buffalo.
- Looking for sacks in Week 14? Try the Cowboys (at Detroit, which allows a league-high 4.2 sacks per game), Vikings (at San Francisco, which allows 3.6 sacks per game) and Broncos (vs. Kansas City, which allows 3.5 sacks per contest). A team to avoid is Atlanta (vs. New Orleans, the toughest team to sack).
- Wondering who is toughest to intercept? Tampa Bay (at Houston) has only been intercepted five times, while New England (vs. Pittsburgh) and Jacksonville (vs. Carolina) have thrown six picks apiece. The easiest teams to pick off? St. Louis (at Cincinnati), Chicago (at Washington) and the N.Y. Giants (at Philadelphia).
- Slippery fingers, anyone? The Ravens (vs. Indianapolis) lead the league with 20 fumbles lost. Houston (15, vs. Tampa Bay) and Washington (15, vs. Chicago) have also had trouble holding onto the football. The Colts (at Baltimore) have lost three fumbles, the fewest in the NFL. The Patriots (four lost, vs. Pittsburgh) and Cowboys (four lost, at Detroit) are tied for the second-fewest fumbles lost.
WHITHER THE WEATHER
Because bad weather usually means fewer points and more turnovers, you need to know where IDPs should benefit from the elements. Here are some sites where the weather could be a significant factor. Keep in mind that the forecasts can change leading up to game day.
The second Sunday of December, predictably, will bring winter weather to several NFL cities. Snow showers are expected for the Miami-Buffalo, Oakland-Green Bay and Kansas City-Denver games. Rain showers are forecast in Cincinnati for the Rams-Bengals contest. Only three Week 14 games will be played in climate-controlled venues: Tampa Bay at Houston, Dallas at Detroit and New Orleans at Atlanta.