Fantasy Football Week 14: The case for and against trusting studs like Russell Wilson, Mike Evans, and Cam Newton in the playoffs
Heath Cummings looks at six Fantasy Football stars and discusses whether you should trust them with your season on the line.
More Week 14:— — — — — — Sleepers — DFS Values
You've heard all of the cliches. Start your studs. Don't change horses midstream. Dance with who you came to the dance with.
The point? You made it to the Fantasy playoffs on the back of some of these guys below. You can't possibly leave them on your bench when one loss ends your season.
Or can you? Let's take a look at some of the toughest calls of Week 14.
The case for: Are you kidding me? Wilson is the No. 1 quarterback in Fantasy. He is the Seahawks offense. He leads them in passing and rushing. If anyone else could throw he'd probably lead them in receiving as well. He just scored 30 Fantasy points against the Eagles. I don't care if he's facing the '85 Bears. You start Russell Wilson.
The case against: Are you kidding me? The Jaguars are the No .1 defense in Fantasy. Quarterbacks are averaging nine (!) Fantasy points per game against them. One quarterback all season has scored 20 Fantasy points against them and that was two time zones away.
The decision: I'm trusting Russell Wilson in most leagues, but this is a terribly difficult spot to be in. Traveling across the country to face the best defense in the NFL is not easy. He's a top-10 quarterback for me this week but I would bench him for Jameis Winston, Alex Smith, Jared Goff and Ben Roethlisberger.
The case for: Newton hasn't been Russell Wilson, but after a slow start he's scored at least 19 Fantasy points in six of his last nine. That includes three games of 32 Fantasy points or more. How are you going to feel if Cam has another of his monster performances on your bench?
The case against: This is an awful matchup against the Vikings. It is expected to be a low scoring game with a Vegas over/under of just 41 points. Also, you can spin Cam's numbers a different direction. Newton has scored less than 20 Fantasy points in four of his last six games. That includes outputs of 16, 14 and 7. How are you going to feel with that in your starting lineup?
The decision: In a standard league I'm probably benching him. The Vikings have held Matt Ryan and Jared Goff to single digits in the last three weeks. Only one quarterback has scored more than 18 Fantasy points against them since Week 3. I'd rather start all the quarterbacks I mentioned above plus Dak Prescott, Case Keenum and Josh McCown. I would even start Brett Hundley over him this week, but I understand if that's a bridge too far for some.
The case for: Hunt has been a top-five back this season and a touchdown drought shouldn't scare you away. He faces an average Raiders run defense that he put up 113 yards against in Oakland. At home in a must-win game, he should be even better.
The case against: That game in Oakland was in Week 7. It was also the last last time Hunt topped 100 yards. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3. Going 10 weeks without a touchdown is not a drought, it's a trend. The Chiefs would rather throw shovel passes and wide receiver screens than run the ball in the red zone.
The decision: It's a mixed one, for sure. I have Hunt as a top-10 back, and do expect he'll get you 80-90 yards with about a 50-50 shot at scoring a touchdown. I know that probably seems optimistic, but it doesn't mean I'm blindly trusting him. I would rather start Jamaal Williams, Alex Collins, Marshawn Lynch and a host of other running backs. In fact, if Joe Mixon is ruled out I would rather start Giovani Bernard.
The case for: Murray had a little more pep in his step last week, averaging six yards per carry against a tough Texans run defense. He doesn't have a great matchup this week, but the line suggests he at least has a good game script. He has at least 79 yards or a touchdown in three of his last four games.
The case against: Murray hasn't had more than 14 carries since Week 7. And game script doesn't help him like it does a traditional running back, because Derrick Henry is quite clearly the closer — as we saw again last week. If they have the lead in the 4th quarter it will be Henry, not Murray, icing the game.
The decision: I am trying to get as far away as possible, though I may flex him in PPR. Assuming they start this week I would start any of this week's waiver wire darlings (Bernard, Peyton Barber, Kerwynn Williams, Mike Davis) over Murray. I would also rather start Jay Ajayi, Frank Gore and Isaiah Crowell.
The case for: Evans is still one of the best receivers in football, and has a very good matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Lions give up 245 yards per game through the air, the sixth highest mark in the league. Sure, Evans has had some rough touchdown luck this season, but that's no reason to bench a star wide receiver in a good matchup.
The case against: This is a little more than bad touchdown luck. Evans hasn't scored since Week 7. And while the Lions do allow a lot of passing yards, they've only given up one touchdown to a wide receiver since Week 8. Evans had a good matchup last week against the Packers too, and caught just two passes for 33 yards.
The decision: I'm largely sticking with Evans. I believe in his upside and I'm not sure the Lions recent success keeping receivers out of the end zone really tells us much. I would bench him for guys like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and Adam Thielen but I'm not actively looking to sit him. Sterling Shepard is another guy I would start over Evans if he gets in a full practice by the end of the week.
The case for: Funchess has been a legitimate No. 1 Fantasy receiver since Kelvin Benjamin was traded. He's scored no fewer than eight Fantasy points in the last four games and has double digits in three straight. The Panthers are underdogs so the game script is in his favor as well.
The case against: Did you see what happened to Julio Jones last week? I know Marvin Jones put a dent in the legend of Xavier Rhodes, but that was one of the few times a receiver have gotten the best of him. No. 1 receivers have really struggled to get to even eight Fantasy points against this defense.
The decision: I'm trying to avoid Funchess, though I acknowledge he may be your best option in a three-receiver league. I see this as a low-scoring game with neither team being very pass-heavy. I would rather start Marquise Goodwin, Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor than Funchess against this very difficult matchup.
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