Week 14 appears likely to avoid the major weather concerns that often come in December. But the matchups are more important this week than they have been all season as many leagues start their fantasy playoffs. Fantasy stars such as Dalvin Cook are too productive to bench against even their best opponents. But there are a number of less valuable players who may spark a decision, and I'll try to help you make those with consideration of their venue and opponent tendencies.
The following tables feature the players with the best and worst matchups of the week. Each listed player shows a true-talent (TT) ranking that represents how I would rank him with a perfectly neutral game context. Then, that ranking is adjusted by adding the context of the venue (Ven) -- home and road and dome and outside -- the forecasted weather (Wea), and opponent tendencies (Opp). The line beneath those rankings shows how much those contextual factors move projected PPR fantasy points. That total (Tot) number gives you a comprehensive estimate of how many fantasy points the player will score this week more or less than his typical total.
You can see our full weekly projections with projected stats, matchup adjustments and fantasy points by subscribing to FO+.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
Russell Wilson has seen his fantasy MVP chances fade along with his real MVP chances over the last month when he has averaged just 235 yards and one touchdown per game. Some of that is simple regression from an unsustainably hot start to the year. But some of it too has been the Seahawks opponents. In particular, the Rams and Cardinals cut passing yards by 14% and 5% per attempt, respectively. And each of Wilson's last four opponents -- those two plus the Eagles and Giants -- cut passing touchdowns per attempt relative to an average defense. Expect Wilson to bounce back this week against a Jets team that boosts yards and touchdowns per pass by 7% and 9%. And with a much better run defense (-21.1% DVOA, seventh) than pass defense (28.1%, 32nd), the Jets even promote pass plays by 2%, an unusual trait for a team that spends most of its time trailing.
Justin Herbert underwhelmed in what on paper seemed like a good matchup against the Patriots last week. I suspect that the stats misjudged the current quality of the Patriots defense, which has seen some of its recent draft picks such as Josh Uche and most important players such as Stephon Gilmore make it on the field in recent weeks after not playing in parts of October and November. In fact, the Patriots saw their pass defense DVOA jump from 30th to 21st on the strength of its Week 12 shutout. But also, good players have bad weeks sometimes. Just ask Wilson. This one dropped Herbert to 10th in my true-talent quarterback rankings, but that is not enough to make me shy away from him at home against the Falcons this week. Atlanta's defense has enjoyed a similar midseason renaissance as New England's, but the former's improvements has come predominantly against the run. The Falcons are now the No. 3 cutter of run plays at 19%, but they are neutral for pass plays and continue to promote passing yards and touchdowns by 8% and 6%, respectively. It isn't a slam-dunk matchup, but it's enough to bump Herbert to eighth at the position this week.
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Quarterbacks|
The Steelers may have lost their undefeated record, but they remain No. 1 in total, weighted, and pass defense DVOA. Josh Allen is too good to sit in typical formats, but he falls from third to seventh at the position this week facing a defense that cuts passing yards and touchdowns by 9% and 15% and promotes interceptions by 66% per attempt. As difficult as that will be for him, the quarterback across the field has it worse. Yes, the Bills defense is less of a challenge -- even if recent improved play has improved them to 14th in DVOA pass defense. But Ben Roethlisberger has averaged 1.9 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road since 2017. That isn't the close to 10-point home-field advantage he flashed several seasons ago, but it's enough to drop him to a back-end QB2 this week as he travels to Buffalo, where he'll contend with cold temperatures and some of the heaviest winds on the schedule this week at about 12 mph.
Week 12 may have proven that Deshaun Watson can succeed no matter who he has at wide receiver. And so a new top trio of Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, and Chad Hansen won't on their own drop Watson from my top five quarterbacks, but his trip to Chicago does. With a home dome, Watson has enjoyed a significant split of 1.8 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road in his career. That will make it difficult for him to produce to his excellent standard, especially with similarly cold and windy weather as Roethlisberger will face and against an even better Bears defense that is a top-10 cutter of passing yards and touchdowns per attempt.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Running Backs|
David Montgomery's near 100% running back target share since Tarik Cohen's injury in September has landed him his current top-three PPR true-talent ranking. I'm not sure I buy him in the company of the elite fantasy options at the position, but you can't deny that he has taken tremendous advantage of plus matchups with 254 total yards and three touchdowns against the Packers and Lions the last two weeks. The Texans can keep that streak alive. With a tendency to trail and with the No. 26 DVOA run defense, they are a top-five booster of run plays (16%), yards per carry (22%), and touchdowns per carry (41%).
Jonathan Taylor and Chris Carson had some workload concerns tied to their respective ankle and foot injuries, but I think they erased those with 13-carry games in Week 13 on 45% and 59% carry shares. For fantasy, that timing is perfect since both players have plus matchups this weekend. The former faces off against a Raiders team that is the No. 1 booster of rushing touchdown rate at 66%. The latter enjoys the Jets matchup I mentioned for Wilson. His boost there comes more from the likelihood of a lead and extra carries than it does the actual quality of the Jets defense. But Carson also catches passes, which should make it easier for him to contribute if the Seahawks focus their attack on the Jets' predominant defensive weakness. Both Taylor and Carson are back-end RB1s for me the week.
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Running Backs|
I had teased it before, but Dalvin Cook enters his nightmare fantasy playoffs this week with the first of three straight matchups against top-five DVOA run defenses in the Bucs, Bears, and Saints. The Bucs are the No. 2 cutter of run plays at 20%. Cook has been tremendous this season and sees such a heavy touch volume that he can survive the matchup and remains my No. 1 option at the position. But he seems unlikely to return value on his bank-breaking DFS prices these next few weeks.
The Saints have softened in their cutting of run plays to just 11%, fifth-most in football. And so that wouldn't be a death knell for Miles Sanders' fantasy value if not for the fact that Sanders faces sudden workload questions with the promotion of new quarterback starter Jalen Hurts and reunited backfield mate Jordan Howard. Hurts was a heavy runner in college, and I have projected him to take 9.0 carries this week. And that coupled with a smaller share of the running back touches lands Sanders with a projection of fewer than 15 touches, which leaves him outside of the top 20 at the position this week.
Speaking of workload questions, Devin Singletary reached 20 touches for the first time in two months on Monday. But his spike in Week 13 snap and carry share seemed to follow his rookie teammate Zach Moss' fumble. I have never understood why coaches bench backs who fumble, but they often do, and those often last for just the one game. I expect the Bills to return to their frustrating-for-fantasy time share in Week 14. And that plus the Pittsburgh matchup makes Singletary a poor option in shallow formats as just my 36th back in fantasy this week.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
In a flip from last week's slate, many of the best wide receivers for fantasy are poised for even bigger days than usual this weekend. DK Metcalf, Mike Evans, Davante Adams, and Keenan Allen all enjoy plus matchups, three of which are at home and the other of which is in the dome in Detroit. Evans may be the biggest surprise there since he has talented receiver teammates and since his opposing Vikings are up to ninth in DVOA pass defense. But the Vikings also promote touchdowns to No. 1 receivers by 115% per target, the third-highest rate in football. Evans may be the likeliest player at any skill position to score a touchdown on Sunday.
Among the players that might actually require a decision, I continue to be bullish on Deebo Samuel despite his lesser production of 73 yards and no touchdowns versus 95 yards and one touchdown from his teammate Brandon Aiyuk last week. Samuel still matched the rookie with nine targets and has a top-eight 30.1% target rate since his return to the lineup in Week 12. Meanwhile, Samuel's Washington opponent owes its excellent pass defense DVOA to a front seven that is top-five with an 8.5% adjusted sack rate. That should hurt Nick Mullens by creating sacks and turnovers, but that won't necessarily diminish Samuel's production on the passes that get out. In fact, Washington promotes No. 1 receiver yards by 4% per target.
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Wide Receivers|
Tyreek Hill torched standout cornerback Carlton Davis for 269 yards and three touchdowns in Week 12, and the only reason Hill isn't sporting a six-game touchdown streak is the fact that he, head coach Andy Reid, and the referees all failed to recognize that Hill trapped a deep pass to his side as he came down in the end zone last week. He's the No. 1 fantasy scorer at his position this season, and you would never bench him in a traditional format. That said, Hill could face a stiffer test than usual on the road in Miami. Cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones have motivated the Dolphins' defensive renaissance that has them ranked sixth in DVOA pass defense. As such, they are a top-six cutter of catch rate (23%), yards per target (19%), and touchdowns per target (49%) to No. 1 receivers.
The Steelers lost excellent coverage linebacker Devin Bush back in Week 6, but that hasn't lessened the quality of their pass defense (first in DVOA) or their defense of slot receivers. They are the No. 2 cutter of catch rate (47%), yards per target (64%), and touchdowns per target (127%) to slot receivers. This probably isn't the week to chase Cole Beasley's best game of the season with 130 yards and a touchdown from Monday against the Bills.
Robby Anderson is still fifth among wide receivers with a 26.4% target rate this season. But his touchdown in the Panthers' most recent game in Week 12 was his first since Week 1, and so he has slipped to WR2 status even in PPR formats. On paper, his Broncos matchup this week threatens even that ranking. Denver cuts No. 1 receiver yards by 19% per target, and with a tendency to trail in games and a much better pass defense (seventh in DVOA) than run defense (22nd), they motivate their opponents to increase their run plays by 14%. The question will be which Panthers fantasy players will be available in this game. Receivers DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel are two of the many Panthers on the COVID reserve list, and Christian McCaffrey suffered a quad injury that could delay his return. Follow their availability over the weekend because, if they can't play, Anderson may volume his way to a productive fantasy day whatever the matchup suggests.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Tight Ends|
No one would mistake Jordan Reed -- now 30 years old and slowed by a history of leg, foot, and head injuries -- for George Kittle. But in a thin year for the position, Reed's 15.4% target share in weeks that Kittle has missed is 13th-highest at the position. That makes Reed one of the better true-talent TE2s, and I rank him 14th this week facing his former team. That's mostly about the 49ers' "home" game, which at least is in a dome even if it isn't in San Francisco. But Washington also boosts tight end touchdown rate by 8%.
A breakaway 72-yard touchdown made Tyler Boyd's ejection-shorted fantasy day on Sunday, but after two Brandon Allen starts, the writing is on the wall. The Bengals receivers are going to lose a lot of value with their new quarterback, who has fallen short of 30 pass attempts in both starts after Joe Burrow threw at least 36 passes in all but one of his healthy weeks. Weirdly, the one exception may be tight end Drew Sample. Allen has targeted his tight ends on 25.0% of his passes, more than double Burrow's rate of 11.1%. Even with the fewer total passes, that makes Sample a borderline weekly TE2/TE3, and he jumps to 22nd for me this week facing a Cowboys defense that is a top-five booster of tight end catch rate (17%) and touchdown rate (58%).
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Tight Ends|
Logan Thomas is the Cole Beasley of tight ends this week. His 98-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Steelers upset was a definitive career best. But even those nine targets couldn't pull Alex Smith's tight end target rate (15.9%) up to Dwayne Haskins levels (19.9%). When he is in trouble, Smith targets his running backs, not his tight ends. For me, that leaves Thomas as a typical back-end TE1, and he falls outside of my top 10 this week on the road in
San Francisco Arizona. The 49ers generally cut pass plays by 3%, and they are particularly hard on tight ends. They reduce their yards and touchdowns per target by 15% and 33%, respectively.
I'm not sure that Zach Ertz's 44% snap share in his return from an ankle injury is a reason for pessimism. But I am confident that Dallas Goedert's maintenance of an 84% snap share can keep him in the top five at the position even with his tight end teammate back on the field. That just may not be the case this week. The Saints defense is probably best known as a run-stopper -- they are No. 2 in DVOA run defense and set a record in Week 9 by allowing only five carries against the Bucs. But the Saints are also the No. 2 DVOA defense versus tight ends, and they cut catch rate and yards per target to the position by 17% and 23%, respectively.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Kickers|
Before their bye, the Bucs lost three of four games to fall to 7-5. But those losses came against three teams -- the Saints, Rams, and Chiefs -- in the top six in overall DVOA. Things should be much easier for the team with a closing stretch of games against the Vikings, Falcons twice, and Lions, and that should help their fantasy players, kicker included. The Vikings are a top-10 booster of opposing short and long field goal attempts, and that plus the home venue with a 75-degree forecast makes Ryan Succop my No. 2 kicker for the week.
Jason Myers won't have the same perfect conditions in Seattle this Sunday. The forecast there is for 44-degree temperatures with some chance of rain. But even if that precipitation materializes and hurts his chances for fantasy points more than his top-five ranking here suggests, Myers should still enjoy the benefit of playing an outmatched Jets team that, among other things, boosts opposing long field goal tries by 23%.
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Kickers|
Justin Tucker and Harrison Butker may be the best kicker talents in football, and on productive offenses, they are tied for second in my true-talent fantasy rankings. But talent alone can't make them every-week standouts in fantasy. They'll need their teams to enter the red zone, and that might be harder -- or at least less easy -- for Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs in particular than it has been in any other week. The ascending Dolphins defense doesn't just limit touchdowns, it cuts opposing short and long field goal tries by 22% and 23%, respectively.
|Best Week 14 Matchups - Defenses|
I have already referenced the Saints defense in multiple fantasy-player paragraphs, so it should be no surprise to find the unit in the top spot of my defensive rankings this week. The Eagles have been a top-two promoter of both sacks per pass attempt and tackles for losses, and maybe Carson Wentz deserves some blame in that. But the Eagles have also been decimated by offensive line injuries and have the highest adjusted sack rate (10.1%) in football. New starter Jalen Hurts may escape some of that, but expect him to turn the ball over against a top-five increaser of interceptions per pass attempt.
The Browns appear to have found their offensive stride under new head coach Kevin Stefanski, but their recent production has been aided by an easy schedule. In particular, Baker Mayfield can credit bottom-three DVOA pass defenses in the Jaguars and Titans for his six touchdowns the last two weeks. The Ravens are in a different class, and they showed it in Week 1 when they limited Mayfield to 189 yards and the Browns to six points. Favor the Ravens in formats that debit defenses for yards and points allowed.
|Worst Week 14 Matchups - Defenses|
I think it's fair to reassess one's opinion of the Patriots defense after they shut out Justin Herbert and the Chargers, who are still in the top 12 pass offenses. But the Chargers are bottom-10 in adjusted line yards, and that likely made the Patriots a bad matchup since their defense is weakest against the run (27th in DVOA). The Rams flip that script with their sixth-best adjusted line yards and best DVOA rushing offense. Darrell Henderson seemed to avoid a knee injury that would limit him tonight, and Cam Akers just enjoyed his best game of the season on Sunday. Assuming the Rams stick to a run-focused game plan, that will make it difficult for the Patriots to benefit from their tendency to boost interceptions by 69%, the most in football.