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Nick Mensio

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 14 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Thursday, December 6, 2018


This is my “flu game,” as I’ve been battling the flu the past couple days. Sorry for the delay. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK

Start of the Week: Deshaun Watson vs. Colts: Watson attempted more than 25 passes in a game last week for the first time since Week 5. He went 22-of-31 for 224 yards and one touchdown in the Texans’ ninth-straight win, adding 30 rushing yards. Watson has just three multi-TD passing games in those nine wins, but has two scores via the ground in that span and has been running a bit more of late, averaging 6.25 attempts for 36.25 yards over the last four games. That raises his floor significantly, keeping Watson in the QB1 discussion despite lower volume as a passer. The Colts have a below-average defense, checking in at No. 21 in pass-defense DVOA, 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and 24th in adjusted sack rate. Since facing Tom Brady in Week 5, these are the quarterbacks Indy has squared off with — Sam Darnold, Derek Anderson, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota/Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill, and Cody Kessler. Not exactly a murderers’ row. Watson is easily the top talent this defense will have seen in about two months. Both the Colts and Texans are top-eight in offensive pace and in the bottom half of the league in opponent plays per game. This game has a solid 49.5-point total, the sixth-highest of the week and will be played in a comfortable dome environment. These clubs went to overtime in Week 4, when Watson went 29-of-42 for 375 yards, two touchdowns, one pick and a third score on the ground to go with 40 rush yards. The Texans’ offensive philosophy has shifted to more of a run-centric game plan since then, but Watson has a good shot to again eclipse 30 attempts, especially if Andrew Luck keeps it close.

Starts

Philip Rivers vs. Bengals: Rivers brings a 12-game multi-touchdown streak into this one against a Bengals team that has simply given up on its season. Rivers is right up near the top of most statistical categories alongside Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, and Drew Brees. He’s having arguably the best season of his career at 37 years old (on Saturday). Rivers is the overall QB10 in fantasy points per game. Even though he’s not throwing a ton of passes, Rivers’ completion rate and touchdown percentage are out of this world. He now gets a Cincinnati defense that is getting shredded in every which way. The Bengals are 27th in pass-defense DVOA, 30th in pass touchdowns allowed, 32nd in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks, and 25th in sacks. The only real concern here for Rivers is if he will get enough volume with the Chargers as heavy 14-point home favorites. But last time this was a concern for Rivers was two weeks ago against Arizona and he set a record by going 28-of-29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns as the overall QB11. He was also rested in the fourth quarter. The Chargers’ implied team total of 30.75 points is the week’s third-highest.

Lamar Jackson at Chiefs: Since taking over as the Ravens’ starter three weeks ago, Jackson has been good but not great. He’s the overall QB15 in fantasy points per game with one top-12 finish, which came last week in Atlanta as the QB11, even with Jackson missing 15 snaps to get checked for a concussion. The Ravens have averaged 76.7 plays per game with Jackson under center, and Baltimore is No. 1 in the league in that category at 71.7 for the season. Baltimore operates at the fourth-fastest offensive pace, and Kansas City checks in at No. 7, so this game will very likely see plenty of action. More plays mean more opportunities for fantasy production. Joe Flacco (hip) has been practicing more this week, but the expectation is Jackson will get another start after the Ravens have gone 3-0 since he took over under center. The Chiefs have faced the most pass attempts in the league and are 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks due to that high volume. They’ve also surrendered the most rushing touchdowns to the position. After averaging just under 22 pass attempts per game in his three starts, there’s a high probability Jackson will have to flirt with 25-30 in this one with the Ravens going on the road as 6.5-point underdogs likely playing catchup. Obviously, Jackson’s bread and butter is the use of his legs. His rushing floor has been 71 yards with touchdown runs in back-to-back games. If Flacco ends up being active as the backup, there is some concern that if the Ravens fall behind, perhaps coach John Harbaugh could turn to Flacco if Jackson is struggling. For now, though, the upside is there for Jackson to have his best statistical game to date.

Dak Prescott vs. Eagles: Since the arrival of Amari Cooper, Prescott is the overall QB14 in fantasy points per game and is averaging 31.6 pass attempts after topping 30 attempts in a game just twice the first seven weeks. This offense still revolves around Ezekiel Elliott, but Prescott’s game has elevated as well with Cooper winning his routes and the quarterback scoring more as a runner. He has three rushing touchdowns over the last four weeks and is averaging 5.25 carries in that span. Back in Week 10 when these two teams squared off in Philly, Prescott fired off a season-high 36 passes for 270 yards, his third-most on the year, and had a touchdown each as a passer and runner. Prescott was the QB6 that week. The Eagles are now even more banged up defensively on the back end, and this one will be played in the comfy dome at JerryWorld. The Eagles are 19th in pass-defense DVOA and 19th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Only four teams have faced more pass attempts. The Eagles have had the luxury of facing Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez the last two weeks after getting throttled by Drew Brees in Week 11 after Prescott’s QB6 day in Week 10. This game has a low 44-point total, but the Dallas triumvirate of Prescott, Elliott, and Cooper remains in play.

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Sits

Kirk Cousins at Seahawks: It’s been an up and down first year in Minnesota for Cousins. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the league Weeks 1-4 with a 10:2 TD:INT mark, but he has just four one-touchdown passing games over his last eight games with a 7:5 TD:INT ratio since Week 9. Over the last five weeks, Cousins is the QB23 in fantasy points per game. That’s just not going to get it done, and we need to be aiming higher in the first week of the fantasy playoffs, especially with the Vikings heading out on the road to play in one of the toughest environments. Seattle’s pass defense has been average at best at 16th in DVOA and 13th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but the Seahawks offense runs the ball and controls clock so well that it limits the opposition’s volume. Nick Mullens threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle last week only because the Niners were getting smashed from the opening snap. The Vikings are a much better team. Minnesota’s implied team total of 21 points is 23rd of all 32 teams in play this week. He’s a low-upside QB2.

Carson Wentz at Cowboys: Since the Eagles’ Week 9 bye, Wentz is the QB27 in fantasy points per game. That includes his miserable 156 yards and three interceptions day in New Orleans. Wentz also did very little in the Week 12 win against the Giants, throwing for just 236 yards and one score despite playing from behind most of the day. Wentz torched the Redskins this past Monday night and had a fine night against these same Cowboys in Week 10, throwing for 360 yards and three scores. But since that game, the Eagles have found a running back in Josh Adams. Adams carried the ball just seven times in Week 10, but he has back-to-back high-volume outings with rushing lines of 22-84-1 and 20-85 to help mask an offensive line that has struggled to pass protect. Wentz very likely isn’t going to have to throw it 44 times this week like he did back in Week 10 vs. Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense is no cake walk, either. Dallas is No. 7 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 10th in pass-defense DVOA. They’ve faced the eighth-fewest pass attempts because Dallas is able to control the ball so well on offense. The Eagles also play at the seventh-slowest offensive pace. Their 62 offensive plays against the Cowboys in Week 10 were the Eagles’ third-fewest since Wentz returned from injury in Week 3. The 44-point total is the fifth-lowest of Week 14, and the Eagles’ implied team total of 20.25 points is the seventh-lowest of 32 teams.

Tom Brady at Dolphins: Brady was listed in the sits portion of this piece last week, and he answered with the QB16 day, throwing for 311 yards and just one touchdown. It was Brady’s fourth 0-1 TD game over his last five and fifth in the last seven. The upside in Brady’s game has been sapped with the return of Sony Michel in the backfield. Brady is on pace for just 26 passing touchdowns, which would be his fewest since 25 in 2013, and second-fewest since 2006. Playing in hot and humid Miami has been the one source of kryptonite for Brady in his career. Last Week 14, Brady threw for just 233 yards, one score, and two picks in a Patriots loss at the Dolphins. New England is 1-4 in Miami since 2013. The Dolphins are average at best against the pass, checking in at 24th in DVOA and 21st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but they’re No. 2 in interceptions. The Patriots are also 7.5-point favorites. There’s no doubt New England can win this game, especially with Dolphins top CB Xavien Howard (knee) expected to sit out. But their path to success has been riding Sony Michel of late and working the short area of the field. Brady has truly shown zero upside and isn’t providing any week-winner games for fantasy footballers. Over his last five games, Brady has finishes as QB20 — QB16 — QB23 — QB16 — QB16. He’s again ideally just a two-QB league play.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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