It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not Christmas — although it’s that time of year too. I know because in addition to the giant pile of work I have to do every week (ruining seasons across the land isn’t as easy as it looks) I know have to add decorating, gift-buying and cookie-baking to the list.
Actually, I rather enjoy this time of year. It’s hectic, but it’s great too.
No. it’s the fantasy football playoffs — at least in the majority of leagues. And unless you’re playing out the string in a league with a 14-week season or taking the week off with a Round 1 bye (kudos), then this week is as must-win as must-win gets.
Every lineup decision is more important than ever. Every call, and every fantasy point that call brings, could be the difference between moving on or going home.
With that in mind, here’s a piece of advice before we get started …
Don’t let anyone (me included) tell you what to do this week.
If you think a player listed under “Sit Them Down” this week is going to buck a bad matchup and have a big game, start them. If you think one of the “Roll Them Out” players is a disappointment waiting to happen, don’t start them.
It’s that simple.
My job with this article is to offer you information that you can use to make an educated opinion about lineup decisions — whether it’s Week 1 or Week 16.
Making the calls themselves falls to you. It’s your team. The only person who has to live with your choices this week is you.
You got this far.
Now bring that title home.
- Tom Brady, New England (at Miami)
- Drew Brees, New Orleans (at Tampa Bay)
- Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at Chicago)
- Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (at Houston)
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Baltimore)
- Cam Newton, Carolina (at Cleveland)
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Atlanta)
- Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Cleveland)
OFF THE LIST: Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at Green Bay): Atlanta hasn’t scored even 20 points in a game since blowing out Washington in Week 9 (38-14). That doesn’t seem especially studly.
SPOT-START OF THE WEEK
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (vs. Carolina)
Mayfield had a shaky first half last week in Houston, but Houston star JJ Watt told reporters (via John Newby of 247 Sports) that he was impressed by Mayfield’s resilience in the game.
“We made a lot of plays in the first half, a couple huge plays, and he came out and made a few plays in the second half,” Watt said. “You gotta give him a lot of credit for that. He bounced back as a rookie quarterback. Probably would have been easy to go into a hole there, but he fought through it, and worked his way through it, and played good football in the second half … I think he does a good job moving around. He obviously has a quickness to him and can find his way through the holes, and he can get the ball out quick, so it’s a combination of both of those things.”
That willingness and ability to shake off a bad play/half/game is going to serve Mayfield well over his NFL career. It could also serve fantasy owners well in Week 14, when everyone’s favorite spot-starter is back at home playing against a reeling Carolina team that lost four straight and risen all the way to sixth in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks.
ROLL THEM OUT
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at Kansas City)
Over the last three weeks, Jackson is fantasy is fantasy football’s fourth-ranked quarterback in Sharks League Scoring. There’s little reason to think he can’t keep that rolling. Kansas City does many things well. Defense is not one of those things.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Cincinnati)
Rivers hasn’t quite been able to hit the “Studs” list in 2018, but he’s been a decent weekly starter — 10th in fantasy points among quarterbacks after 13 weeks. He should be able to do a fair bit better than that in Week 14 — the Cincinnati defense is non-existent.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (vs. New Orleans)
Winston’s making quite the bid to remain Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback of late, with six touchdown passes to one interception over his last three games and a passer rating of better than 110 in all three contests. This game has shootout written all over it.
SIT THEM DOWN
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at Chicago)
Week 14 sets up as a seismic week at the quarterback position. Two of the NFL’s most prolific and productive young quarterbacks both have rotten matchups that could have a massive impact on this week’s fantasy playoff games.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Baltimore)
This isn’t a recommendation to sit Mahomes. That’s all but impossible to do given how well he’s played. What it is is a warning that if ever there was a time for a down week from the second-year pro, this is it. Baltimore is 31st in fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks so far this season.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at Arizona)
Given how the 2018 season has gone for Stafford and Detroit, fantasy owners don’t really need additional reasons to sit Stafford. Here’s one anyway — Arizona has surprisingly given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2018.