Fantasy Sports

2012 Fantasy Football Playoffs: Week 14 Start ‘Em

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

 

In my best Jim Mora voice….Playoffs! You wanna talk about playoffs!?! This is it folks, fantasy football Week 14 is upon us as the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders kicked it off last night. Not to toot my own horn, but I participated in 15 fantasy football leagues this year. That’s right, 15. I successfully earned a playoff berth in all 15 leagues, so I must be doing something right. As most know by now, I do not try to state the obvious, and I always look for the value in players that others cannot see. To those with bye weeks to start round 1 of the playoffs, congrats and enjoy the week off. Good luck to everyone else who will be involved in heated battles this weekend.

 

START ‘EM: 

QUARTERBACKS:

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco 

Flacco is very shaky on the road, but the Washington Redskins secondary is bad no matter where they play. Skins currently allowing the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Washington also allowing, on average, 280 passing yards per game in the last four contests. Flacco will have the short game available via RB Ray Rice, and he will certainly have the chance to connect on a home run ball because Redskins are vulnerable to the big play. I find it hard to believe you made the playoffs with Flacco as your starting QB, but if that’s the case, or you need QB help, Flacco is a very solid option in Week 14.

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck

Favorable match-up against the Tennessee Titans and their 26th ranked passing defense. Past two weeks Titans allowed Jacksonville Jaguars QB Chad Henne and Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub amass 468 yards and four touchdowns. Luck has been terrific in dome games, and he threw for almost 300 yards and recorded a touchdown in Week 8 against this same weak secondary. Let the good times roll for the rookie.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman 

Freeman has been average at best the past two games, but he holds value against a soft Philadelphia Eagles defense. Eagles currently allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs the past five weeks, and 4th-most for the season. Eagles are dreadful….plus they have failed to hold a QB to one touchdown or less in every game since their Week 6 bye. Paging all Josh Freeman owners….

RUNNING BACKS:

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard

Donald Brown has already been ruled out for this weeks match-up against the Titans. This bodes well for the rookie Ballard who should see 20+ touches in this contest. Titans currently allowing the most fantasy points to opposing backs this season, and allowed 208 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns these past two weeks. Ballard should score in this one. If you need flex help, Ballard is the solution.

New York Jets RB Bilal Powell

Really like Powell as a sleeper heading into the playoffs as noted in my Top 15 Fantasy Football Playoff Sleepers piece. Shonn Greene is the starter, but it’s Powell who is the more valuable fantasy back in New York. Powell is getting roughly half the workload in this offense and usually receives all those coveted goal-line carries the Jets get…If you couldn’t notice, I typed that with the sarcasm. The scoring chances in this offense come at a premium, but when they do arrive, Powell is usually the one to benefit. The Jaguars are lousy at stopping the run as they have surrendered the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The probability of a vulture touchdown is very high. If you need him, start him.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon might be heating up again and I don’t want to miss out on the fun. Owned in 35% of leagues, I highly suggest you at least find a roster spot for him if you need WR help. Brandon Weeden has been throwing better as of late, and Gordon is clearly the receiver with the most upside in Cleveland. The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed 81 fantasy points to opposing receivers in the past three weeks. Not too mention 5 receiving touchdowns and 511 total yards. The opportunity for the big play will present itself in this game. In the words of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”…..PICK ‘EM UP!

St. Louis Rams WR Chris Givens

Sleeper action right here with Danny Amendola out with a heel injury. Givens will take over slot duties and saw 14 targets from QB Sam Bradford last week. The Buffalo Bills have allowed the 8th-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and have surrendered three receiving touchdowns in three consecutive weeks. Owned in only 15% of all leagues, Givens is there if you need/want him.

Baltimore Ravens WR Torrey Smith

Joe Flacco is shaky on the road, but a match-up against the Redskins should bode well for not only Flacco, but also Torrey Smith. Washington is vulnerable to the big play, and they currently allow the 2nd-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Ravens receiving core is thin, and all it takes is one big play to hit paydirt with Smith. My gut tells me the home run is coming this weekend. Start him.

Green Bay Packers WR Greg Jennings

Ughh what a pain it has been for Greg Jennings owners this season. Bothered by a groin tear, Jennings has been nothing but an overpaid Old Spice spokesman, who has cost his owners early round draft picks that did not pay off. I’m one of those owners, and instead of just dropping or trying to trade Jennings for next to nothing, I held onto him. It’s about to pay off, folks. Jordy Nelson has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions with a hamstring injury. This only helps Jennings cause with one less mouth to feed in Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal. Lions have allowed the 9th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, and Jennings put up 5-74-1 against them last season. It’s time for Jennings to repay his patient owners, get him in those lineups.

TIGHT ENDS:

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis

If the Jaguars endure anymore injuries they will be pulling guys off the North Florida streets to come play for them. The running game is absolutely in shambles as the team is down to Montell Owens as the starter. WR Cecil Shorts, who could be considered the team’s best receiver, has already been ruled out of Jacksonville’s Week 14 match-up against the Jets. Lewis and Henne have developed some chemistry these past few weeks, and with no rushing threat, Lewis may be looking at a lot of targets in the flat come Sunday. If any red zone chances should arise, Lewis will absolutely be in the mix. Jets pass defense is solid, but they are vulnerable to the tight end, as they have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends. If you need help at this position, Lewis is only owned in 20% of leagues.

Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew 

Another team riddled with injuries, the Lions have lost wide receivers Nate Burleson, Ryan Broyles, and Titus Young. That leaves Mike Thomas and Pettigrew as the only other viable options in a pass-heavy offense. The Packers have kept tight ends in check this season, but with Calvin Johnson getting all the attention, Pettigrew will certainly have his chances to produce in this one.

*** Notable D/ST to consider in Week 14: St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets ***

*** Notable Kickers to consider in Week 14: Connor Barth, Shayne Graham, Kai Forbath ***

Related Fantasy Football Playoff Articles:

Top 15 Sleepers for 2012 Fantasy Football Playoffs

Fantasy Football Week 14 Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Michael J. Igyarto is a featured columnist and fantasy football expert at Rant Sports

Follow Michael on twitter: @windycityiggy