2013 Fantasy Football Week 14 Dark Horse Sleeper: New England Patriots D/ST

New England Patriots

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In my Early Week Injury Woes column that posted on Monday, I mentioned how beat up the Cleveland Browns have become. Quarterbacks Jason Campbell was lost the previous week to a concussion and and Brandon Weeden was diagnosed with one following Sunday’s game. As of when this article was published, both have been cleared for activity, but not practice. This essentially puts their availability for a week 14 date with the New England Patriots in a very doubtful area.

As a precaution, the Browns signed former Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie, who hasn’t thrown a pass in the league since 2011. Hanie was splitting reps with the first team offense with Alex Tanney, who has yet to even play a single NFL snap. Regardless of if Campbell or Weeden get cleared to play, or if either of the other two get the start, the Patriots are surely going to be one of the top D/ST’s to play in fantasy football in week 14.

Even with budding superstar Josh Gordon, the Browns have one of the worst offenses in football. I touched on it more in depth here, but the main point you need for this column is that Gordon is the only reliable offensive threat on the team. Coincidentally, the Patriots passing defense is currently ranked 10th in the league. Defensive back Aqib Talib has negated some of the top pass catchers in football, and will have a tough matchup with Gordon, but Talib is capable of negating the sophomore receiver. If Hanie or Tanney get the start, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots secondary came down with multiple interceptions on Sunday.

While the New England run defense is actually second worst in football, the Browns hold the fifth worse rushing attack. Cleveland is averaging just over 80 yards of rushing offense per game. There are currently five running backs who average more rushing yards per game than the entire Browns team. New England got gashed on the ground against the Denver Broncos for 5.83 yards per attempt, but brought that number down to only 3.25 last week. The league average is 4.1.

Since their week 11 clunker against the Carolina Panthers, the Patriots D/ST has gone on a tear. They posted 19 fantasy points against the best offense in the league (Denver) and followed that up with an 18 point performance last week. Coach Bill Belichick typically has his teams really start to turn it up around this time every year and this week will be no exception.

With all the turmoil at quarterback for the Browns, plus having to travel to Foxborough, where the Patriots are riding an eight game winning streak is going to be a daunting task. Don’t be surprised if New England finishes week 14 as one of the top D/ST plays in fantasy football.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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