Week 14: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em – Hot Pickups – and Other Advice for the Playoffs

There’s no going wrong with either top rookie QB

If you’re still reading this, it most likely means you are one of the playoff contenders in your league. Congratulations, yet very few leagues involving payouts will offer one for simply making the playoffs alone. You’re going to need to keep making moves in order to stay on top, as the fantasy playoffs can be a cruel mistress. With the NFL playoff picture shaping up the way it has, there is a very likely chance that owners whose teams have been driven by studs like Arian Foster, or Tom Brady will have to ready replacements for these stars, as they almost inevitably will be rested for the playoffs. Here we go.

Start ‘Em

  • Josh Freeman (vs Phi): The Eagles season is over; they have nothing left to play for. Their pass defense ranks 31st in the league, and they have not limited an offense to less than 28 points since former defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, was fired.  Similarly, they recently cut their best pass rusher, and to put it simply, they can’t generate pressure, sacks, or turnovers. In the meantime, the Bucs have been pushing for the playoffs, and Josh Freeman has multiple touchdown passes in seven of his last eight games. In the words of Dave Hester, YUUUUUUUUUP!
  • Robert Griffin III (vs Bal): The readdition of Ray Lewis is not going to make up for a  hobbled Terrell Suggs. After Suggs tore his bicep against Pittsburgh this past weekend, the Ravens were incapable of generating any sort of pass rush whatsoever on Charlie Batch, who is obviously slow as hell. RG3 and the playoff surging Redskins should have plenty of time to work this injury crippled defense on Sunday.
  • Andrew Luck (vs Ten): Luck has looked downright incredible this season, and has only gotten better. The Colts are obviously looking to pass first in the redzone, offering up lots of scoring opportunities for the rookie. Similarly, the Titans’ pass defense ranks in the bottom third of the league, and Luck should have no problem putting up top numbers again this week.


  • Trent Richardson (vs KC): Has gotten 20+ carries in each of his last five games, and continues to produce. He has emerged as one of the few true “workhorses” left in the league, and this shows no signs of letting up against a poor KC team.
  • Doug Martin (vs Phi): Its tough not to bet against the Eagles right now. Especially with a new defensive line coach shaking things up. With the way the Juan Castillo replacement went for Philly’s defense, I’d consider Doug Martin a must start this week.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw (vs NO): There are few things better in fantasy football than when your runningback’s goal line TD poacher goes down with injury. This should be a high scoring game, and the backfield is Bradshaw’s. The only competition is going to come from the shaky David Wilson, who has had a rocky first season in the NFL, and doesn’t offer enough physicality to take goal line work away from Bradshaw. The Saints present a highly favorable matchup for the Giants’ ground attack this week.
  • Steven Jackson (@ Buf): Disappointed against the 49′ers, but not much else is to be expected there. Despite this, the aging veteran has managed to put up over 100 yards in two of his last four games, and should be in for solid points here against a very mediocre Buffalo defense. The cold weather up in Buffalo should only get him more touches.

Wide Receiver

  • Josh Gordon (vs KC): I’ve been big on him all season, and those who trusted me last week on this pick learned why. Gordon has all the tools to succeed in this league, and has clearly cemented himself as the Browns #1, and Weeden’s favorite target. Continue to roll with him heading into another favorable matchup against KC this week.
  • TY Hilton (vs Ten): Hopefully you picked him up last week, as Hilton continues to impress. He on a playoff pushing team with a guy who is quickly making himself known as an “elite” QB. This week, he has another favorable matchup against a mediocre pass defense, and is riding a streak that has seen him put up three 100+ yard games, and four TD’s in his past five games.
  • Greg Jennings (vs Det): The Lions have given up 30+ points in three of their last four games. We all know what Greg Jennings is capable of, and he should be back in full force this weekend.

Tight End

  • Bradon Myers (@ Den) – Another guy I’ve been harping on for a few weeks now. Posted absolutely insane numbers last weekend for a tight end, totaling 14 catches for 130 yards and a TD. Similarly, despite Denver’s solid defense, they are  right behind the Patriots when looking at points given up to opposing TE’s. Additionally, he should have plenty of time to rack up garbage points when the Raiders find themselves in a hole midway through this game.
  • Owen Daniels (@ NE) – Despite improvements on the run defense, the Patriots are one of the worst teams in the league against the tight end. The Texans are going to have to pass in this game if they want to win, and Daniels is arguably Schaub’s favorite target in the redzone.
Team Defense
  • Seattle (vs Ari): The Cardinals can’t do anything on offense. Their offense line is bad. Ryan Lindley looks worse.
  • San Francisco (vs Mia): Expect the 49′ers to make quick work of Tannehill and co. this weekend.

Sit ‘Em


  • Phillip Rivers (@ Pit): Rivers has been shaky as of late, and the Steelers are offering up the best pass defense in the league, allowing under 175 yards per game. With Polamalu now back in action, there is no way they’re regressing.
  • Carson Palmer (vs Den): The only chance the Raiders, and Palmer have of putting up solid fantasy points is if they are chasing a blowout, racking up garbage points in the second half. Granted, situations like those are where Palmer has made his keep this year, but Oakland failed to even do that the first time these two teams met, getting blown out 37-6


  • Reggie Bush (@ SF): This is virtually a no-brainer.
  • Ryan Mathews (@ Pit): The Steelers defense is still incredible, and Ryan Mathews is still a shaky fantasy back. In spite of the Chargers backfield becoming much less crowded in the offseason, with the departure of Tolbert, Mathews has only managed to score ONCE since coming back from injury. Hardly a solid return on what had to have been a high pick on draft day.

Wide Receiver

  • Larry Fitzgerald (@ Sea): I will not be starting, or drafting Larry Fitzgerald at any point when Ryan Lindley is quarterbacking for him. Five catches for 65 yards in three weeks? No thanks. Don’t forget the tough matchup at Seattle…
  • Dwayne Bowe (@ Cle): I don’t like Brady Quinn either. However, I do love Joe Haden, the DB that will almost certainly be covering Bowe this weekend. Only three TD’s on the year for Bowe, and ZERO were thrown by Quinn, indicating that they have not yet developed a solid working relationship.
  • Denarius Moore (vs Den): Champ Bailey continues to defy age, and will most likely be plastered on Moore all day. It’s worth noting that Moore had some behavioral issues in the loss to Cleveland last week, but regardless of the effect that has on him, I don’t like him as anything besides a desperate man’s flex play this week.

Tight End

  • Dennis Pitta (@ Was): Has been to inconsistent to be a solid play this year, and that is without even delving into the aspect of Joe Flacco’s apparent collapse whenever the Ravens play away from home.
  • Antonio Gates (@ Pit): For the same reasons I wouldn’t start Rivers this week.

Team Defense

  • Baltimore (@ Was): With Suggs having a torn bicep, Ray Lewis not 100% (IF he returns), and Ladarius Webb out for the season, Baltimore’s defense is truly crippled by injury. RG3 shouldn’t have much of a problem here, as the Ravens could get nothing resembling a pass rush against Charlie Batch last weekend. With the way RG3 handled the Giants’ explosive pass rush, there is a good chance he could downright embarrass the Baltimore front seven this week.
  • New York Giants (@ NO): It’s still tough to bet against Drew Brees in the Superdome.

Pickups to Bolster your Playoff Squad

Brandon Lloyd (WR – NE): I’m still kicking myself over how poorly Lloyd’s season has turned out (and possibly holding unjustifiable hope that he can turn it around.) Despite this, if you have roster space, and Lloyd is available on the cheap/waiver wire, I wouldn’t be hesitant about taking a shot on him at this point.  Julian Edelman had been emerging as one of Brady’s surer targets right in time for him to hit the season long IR. The mentality behind this move is that the Patriots simply can’t throw to Wes Welker every down. Could end up (remaining) a bust, but the guy should be available for free, or dirt cheap in leagues where roster moves can still be made.

Justin Forsett (RB – Hou): Anyone who watched the Houston game last week could tell that they are already starting to take a cautious approach with their star RB. Expect Foster’s carries and points to decline steady the closer it gets to the playoffs, and the further the Texans build their divisional lead.

Jonathan Dwyer (RB – Pit): Dwyer has officially been named the starter for the remainder of the season, and should put up solid points throughout. In the three games where Dwyer has been the official “starter” he has put up 278 yards and a TD. With Big Ben returning to take pressure off the run, that should only improve.

About John Warmkessel

Operator & head writer for 1UP Fantasy Sports. Contact me at the email provided, or via the contact form on the home page of the website. Follow on twitter @1UPfantasy for up to date player advice, gameday Q & A, and more.
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