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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 14

Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 14 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Packers Browns
Quarterback 14th 7th
Running Back 10th 23rd
Wide Receiver 4th 21st
Tight End 32nd 3rd
Defense/Special Teams 11th 1st
Vegas Line: Packers -3
Vegas Over/Under: 40
I have no say, as a Josh Gordon doubter, I was forced to eat my words when the talented-but-troubled wideout cruised to a 4-85 line on a whopping 11 targets last Sunday. The Browns clearly meant it when they said there were no plans to ease Gordon into their game plans, and his performance passed the eye test.
Jamaal Williams‘ workload last Sunday was more or less unaffected by the return of fellow Packers RB Aaron Jones, as Williams racked up 123 total yards and a rushing score on 23 offensive touches. The Browns are allowing just the 11th-fewest rushing yards per game to opposing backfields, but few backs won’t thrive when getting the type of usage has over the past three weeks (23.3 touches per game). Davante Adams‘ low floor reared it’s ugly head last Sunday, as his 4-42 performance was Adams’ worst since going 2-12 in Week 7. The Browns allow just the 9th-fewest receiving yards per game to opposing wideouts, so even though the targets may be there for Adams, the production may not be. Isaiah Crowell should be able to find some running room against a Green Bay defense allowing the 11th-most rushing yards to opposing backfields. Green Bay’s D/ST is streamable against a Cleveland offense that has committed the most turnovers and is tied for the third-most QB sacks allowed this season. David Njoku has 8 catches for 121 yards an a score over his past two contests, and could be useful for TE needy fantasy owners against a Green Bay defense that has given up three tight end scores since the start of Week 12.
Brett Hundley was a colossal disappointment in a sweet matchup last week, completing just 13 of 22 passes for 84 yards with 0 passing touchdowns and one interception. With Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers‘ (collarbone) potential return just around the corner, look for the Packers to keep Hundley reigned in and not give him the opportunity to make mistakes. Josh Gordon‘s triumphant return appears to be bad news for Corey Coleman, as the second-year wideout posted a goose egg last Sunday on a measly four targets after seeing a combined 19 in his prior two games. Another Brown trending down is Duke Johnson, whose 12 total yards last Sunday represented a season low. With both Coleman and Gordon on the field, the Browns need to utilize Johnson as a key cog in their pass game just isn’t there anymore. With no more than 35 receiving yards in any game since the start of Week 7, all Jordy Nelson owners can do is hope/pray that Aaron Rodgers gets back on the field next week.

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Lions Buccaneers
Quarterback 19th 12th
Running Back 4th 7th
Wide Receiver 19th 1st
Tight End 8th 31st
Defense/Special Teams 10th 18th (tied)
Vegas Line: N/A
Vegas Over/Under:
 N/A
On paper, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate be able to host a dinner party against the Buccaneers league worst defense in terms of receiving yards allowed to wideouts. Jones in particular has been a fantasy stud since the Lions’ Week 8 bye, averaging 90.2 receiving yards per game and scoring five times during that span. Looking to be all systems go for Week 14, Matthew Stafford (hand) should have his way with a Buccaneers secondary allowing the second-most passing yards per contest.
Jameis Winston appeared healthy in last week’s return from a shoulder injury, though he still displayed his trademark penchant for turning the ball over and taking bad sacks. Winston should be able to post decent numbers against a slumping Detroit defense that has allowed 551 passing yards and five touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks over their past two contests. Mike Evans‘ 33 receiving yards last Sunday represented a season low in contests that he’s started and finished (Evans went 1-13 before getting ejected against the Saints in Week 7). While Evans is always a threat to go off any week, his repeated mediocre performances have dropped him out of the circle of trust, and the matchup against the Lions isn’t favorable. Peyton Barber responded to being granted the starting RB role last week by posing 143 total yards. Should the Bucs stick with the hot-hand in Barber, he could produce similar numbers against a Lions defense that has allowed at least 106 rush yards to opposing backfields since the start of Week 10. Cameron Brate has clearly been missing a healthy Jameis Winston, as the young tight end caught two Winston touchdown passes last Sunday after going scoreless in 6 straight contests where Winston was either hobbled or sidelined. The prevailing thought was that DeSean Jackson could get going again with Winston back as well, which didn’t exactly happen last week as Jackson finished the Green Bay contest with a paltry 2-24. The Lions defense has allowed at least 188 receiving yards to opposing wideouts the past two weeks, so it’s possible Jackson could get loose while the Evans focus much of their attention on containing Mike Evans.
Doug Martin (concussion) returned to practice this week, but it’s hard to see him being completely re-installed as the Bucs starting RB given he has yet to surpass the 74 rushing yards he posted back in his Week 5 season debut. If Martin does indeed suit up and start, he would most likely form a committee with Peyton Barber, thus dropping Barber from a yellow-light to red. Ameer Abdullah (neck) was close to suiting up last Sunday before ultimately being ruled out. Even if Abdullah is able to return, it’s hard to have much confidence in a back that hasn’t surpassed 54 rushing yards since Week 4. Theo Riddick got the start last Sunday in place of Abdullah, and managed 62 total yards and a score. Riddick will never be a full-time player though, so if Abdullah is out again, expect a repeat of last Sunday’s committee consisting of Riddick and rookie Tion Green. Eric Ebron remains involved in the Lions offense, but not so much that he warrants fantasy attention, having not surpassed 50 receiving yards since Week 8.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Raiders Chiefs
Quarterback 10th 5th
Running Back 14th 15th
Wide Receiver 16th 2nd
Tight End 9th 26th
Defense/Special Teams 20th 27th
Vegas Line: Chiefs -4
Vegas Over/Under:
 48.5
Michael Crabtree returns from suspension to face a Chiefs defense that has surrendered the second-most receiving yardage and touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season, and will be without top CB Marcus Peters (suspension). As if he’s dialed the clock back to 2014, Marshawn Lynch has put up at least 57 rushing yards and scored four times over his last four contests, and the struggling Chiefs have quietly allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to opposing backfields this season. The last time these two teams met back in Week 7, Alex Smith and Derek Carr combined for 759 passing yards and six touchdowns. A similar outcome could be in store for both QBs given the sorry state of both team’s respective pass defenses. Tyreek Hill will also look to get in on the potential bonanza this week after putting up a career high 6-185-2 last Sunday against the Jets (Hill also went for 7-125-1 in Week 7 against the Raiders). Travis Kelce is your current leader for tight end receiving yards, and in a three-way tie for second in receiving touchdowns at the position.
Kareem Hunt‘s numbers over his past four contest (56.8 total yards per game) have rendered him barely playable, but the fact remains he is a starting RB in a contest with a moderately high over/under, and we all know what Hunt’s ceiling can be.
Amari Cooper (ankle) looks to be on the wrong side of questionable, and will likely miss another week. Neither Seth Roberts nor Cordarrelle Patterson did enough last Sunday to warrant consideration in Cooper’s stead. As has been the the case for most of his career, Jared Cook cannot enjoy sustained success, posting just four catches for 47 yards over his last three contests after he was starting to look like one of QB Derek Carr‘s favorite targets.

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Vikings Panthers
Quarterback 27th 23rd
Running Back 32nd 28th
Wide Receiver 20th 12th
Tight End 27th 29th
Defense/Special Teams 32nd 18th
Vegas Line: Vikings -2.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 40.5
The Panthers have allowed enemy WR corps to average 201.8 receiving yards along with 6 end zone visits over their last four contests, so Adam Thielen should get back to undressing the opposition after a quiet Week 13.
Devin Funchess has failed to disappoint since becoming the Panthers no. 1 wideout (346 receiving yards and three touchdowns over his last four contests), but faces a stiff test in the Vikings and CB Xavier RhodesChristian McCaffrey, as usual, should be an ideal dump-off option for Cam Newton while Funchess is contending with the Vikings’ secondary. Jerick McKinnon is averaging just 53.3 total yards per contest over his past four, though could also be set up for some pass catching volume against a Panthers defense allowing just the 5th-fewest rushing yards per game to opposing backfields. Outside of a solid Week 10 (4-78-1), Stefon Diggs has been near invisible in his other four contests since returning from a groin injury, averaging just 39.3 yards per game. As the big play threat in the Vikings offense, however, all Diggs needs are a couple long catches to reward your faith.
Cam Newton is averaging a paltry 178.2 passing yards over his last five contests, and will be hosting a standout Vikings defense that allows the second-fewest points per game. Jonathan Stewart is on a two game scoring streak, but is currently battling a foot injury, and would need to extend that streak to three games in order to maintain any fantasy value against a Vikings defense that has allowed the fewest touchdowns to opposing backfields. Greg Olsen (foot) will make his second re-appearance of the season, and while the Panthers’ coaching staff doesn’t intend to limit the veteran tight end, he’s not exactly set up for success as the Vikings allow just the 8th-fewest receiving yards to the position.  As mentioned above, the Panthers play shut-down run defense as well as anyone in the NFL, which sets Latavius Murray up for a letdown performance. Kyle Rudolph‘s fantasy value is mostly derived from scoring, as he doesn’t put up a whole lot of yardage on a weekly basis, and faces a Carolina defense that gives up the fewest receiving yards per game to opposing right ends.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.