Week 14 represents the first week of Fantasy Football playoffs for the majority of leagues. This week I’m switching things up a tad and giving what I consider the three safest plays followed by the three best waiver wire pickups. So if you’re in between with a team like Seattle against a good Green Bay offense carefully consider your options and make sure you have sound reasoning before benching them for a team like Tampa Bay, who I have ranked third on my waiver wire list here. I wouldn’t bench Seattle in this case, but I may for Detroit or Cincinnati.
How did I do last week? Three of my top four teams actually finished in the top 3, but everyone else was awful. The Eagles and Saints were handled easily by their opponents, and while San Diego looked promising early unfortunately they played beyond halftime.
Denver Broncos (@ Tennessee) – The Denver defense is one of the most consistent Fantasy Defenses and is on the road this week in Tennessee. Denver has had trouble against the run and Tennessee is a good running team. But Denver should score points in other facets of the game: sacks and turnovers. They most likely will not add to their point total by keeping the Titans score low, but they remain a safe start.
Arizona Cardinals (@ Miami) – Miami is at home this week, and I expect defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph to make some adjustments to their scheme so the middle of the field is not so open. However, I expect the Cardinals defense to have results similar to those the Ravens against the Dolphins running game, and to put even more pressure on Ryan Tannehill. A defensive touch down is a strong possibility and the Cardinals are my favorite Fantasy Defense this week.
Minnesota Vikings (@ Jacksonville) – While the Cardinals are my favorite D/ST for the week, Minnesota is not far behind for obvious reasons. They are the top D/ST for the year, though they have slowed down in the 2nd half of the season, and are coming off of a good game against the Cowboys. This week they have a plus matchup against a beat up Jaguars’ team and are facing the struggling Blake Bortles. I’d expect double digit points from the Vikings this week.
Detroit Lions (waiver play) – The Lions were my first option on D/ST waivers this week. Though Matt Barkley has exceeded my expectations at quarterback for the Bears, the Lions have scored well over the last three weeks against teams far superior to Chicago. Their best pass rusher from last season, Ansah, is getting healthier and could break out any game now.
Cincinnati Bengals (waiver play) – The Bengals surprised me last week against Philadelphia intercepting Carson Wentz three times, but only getting one sack. This week they have a divisional game at home against Cleveland. RG3 has been named the starter this week, but I’m not sure that helps Cleveland, mainly because of the state of their offensive line. The Bengals should get several sacks in this contest and possibly create some turnovers if Griffin is at all rusty.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (waiver play) – The Buccaneers would be my third ranked waiver option this week. The team has played well of late and the Defense has scored 12 (SD), 18 (SEA) and 5 (KC) over its last three games. This week they get New Orleans at home, so this is a risky play if New Orleans lights up the scoreboard. But some teams have been able to control them a bit and have scored well against them recently (Detroit, Carolina, etc.). The Saints do most of their damage against losing teams with a couple of exceptions, so I’d start Tampa if I couldn’t get one of the other options.
Safety and Corner Starts
Now for the Safety and Corner plays for IDP leagues. Below are picks for Week 14, focusing primarily on players who are not currently top five at their position in Fantasy Points. The current Top 5 Safeties (using Major League Fantasy Sports scoring) are: Landon Collins, Tony Jefferson, T.J. Ward, Bradley McDougald, and Rodney McLeod (Mark Barron is 3rd on this list if he qualifies as a Safety). The Top 5 Corners are: Casey Hayward, Byron Maxwell, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins and Malcolm Butler.
Barry Church (DAL) – Church stepped in last week after returning from an injury and had a great game. He should again this week, Sunday night, against the Giants who like to work the middle of the field.
Keanu Neal (ATL) – The Rams should be playing from behind this week as they do in most weeks. Neal is perhaps the best tackler on the team.
Morgan Burnett (GB) – Burnett has a good match-up this week against the Seahawks. Seattle’s ability to move the ball should present numerous opportunities.
Isa Abdul-Quddus (MIA) – Kiko Alonso has surgery on a broken thumb this week and may miss this weekend’s game. This could inflate Isa’s tackle numbers that have recently been on the rise. Also, expect the safeties to help the linebackers more in coverage this week after the success Dennis Pitta and the Ravens receivers had over the middle of the field last week.
Kurt Coleman/Michael Griffin (CAR) – If Coleman is active he is the start. But if he misses another week, start Griffin. This safety position has produced over 30 tackles for the Panthers over the last three weeks.
Xavier Rhodes (MIN) – Someone will benefit from Blake Bortles being under pressure and poor decision making. Rhodes is one of the best young corners in the league.
Jason McCourty (TEN) – McCourty is a tackle heavy corner who was among the top five (Fantasy) at the position until an injury a few weeks ago. He appears to be healthy and has a good match-up against Denver this week.
Bradley Roby (DEN) – Roby has made some big plays of late, including two 51 yard interception returns for touchdowns. Even without a defensive touchdown, he will have opportunities against the Titans offense that has regularly shown the ability to move the ball.
Byron Jones (DAL) – Jones’ tackles have increased of late–25 over his last three games. This Sunday night should be no exception as the Giants and Cowboys have not played many low scoring games against each other over the last few years.
Malcolm Butler (NE) – Butler is my best bet on Monday night. Baltimore has not stuck with the running game in many contests of late, so Butler should be active and is the best of the Patriots corners.
How Did I Do Last Week?
Last week was another decent week, hitting on 7 of 10 picks. There were three injuries, and Clayton Geathers did not play after practicing on Thursday. However, several of the picks were on the low end of the spectrum and barely made it out of the “Failed” category.
|Chris Harris Jr. – 3 Solo Tackles, 1 INT, 2 Passes Defended|
|Marcus Cooper – 5 Solo Tackles, 1 Assist|
|Daryl Worley – 4 Solo Tackles, 2 Assists / Left game early with a “concussion”|
|Keanu Neal – 3 Solo Tackles, 4 Assists|
|Kenny Vaccaro – 6 Solo Tackles, 1 TFL|
|Tyrann Mathieu (Out)/Tyvon Branch – 3 Solo Tackles, 1 Assist, 1 Pass Defended|
|Tavon Wilson – 4 Solo Tackles, 1 INT, 1 Pass Defended|
|E.J. Gaines – 1 Solo Tackles, 2 Assists / Left game early with a “Quad” injury|
|A.J. Bouye – 3 Solo Tackles, 1 Assist|
|Clayton Geathers – DNP / Concussion|
Check back each week for D/ST starts and streaming options, along with IDP secondary picks.
Find me on Twitter @JamesWilk2
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Major League Fantasy Football Show: Join Ej Garr, Corey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Sunday December 11th, 2016 from 11am-12:30pm EST for episode #79 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. We will be breaking down key matchups, discussing fantasy start/sit, some DFS, and handicapping as well.
Jeff is the defensive coach for Freedom H.S. in PA, an 8 year veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports, and 3 time champion.
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.