NFL Fantasy: Week 14 start ‘em, sit ‘em D/STs

Miami and Dallas came out of nowhere to take the top spots on last week’s D/ST leaderboard; but will we start ‘em or sit ‘em in Week 14?

If any of you thought the Dolphins or Cowboys would shut down the Trevor Siemian-led Broncos or the Washington Redskins to the tune of 26 and 19 NFL fantasy points, more power to you. But I don’t believe you, just like I couldn’t believe Kirk Cousins gave up that third turnover. 

But that’s why we have articles like this, so prognosticators like me can tell you to play pretty much any defense other than those guys. In response to this week’s surprise, there are some crazy recommendations for Week 14 making the rounds. For instance, there are folks advocating the Indianapolis Colts as a viable streamer if Nathan Peterman starts. Not only will Peterman not throw five more interceptions, the Colts’ fifth-worst rush defense won’t stop LeSean McCoy from taking over the game. 

If you’re looking for even better advice, here are my D/ST start ‘em and sit ‘ems for Week 14. 

Start these guys: Los Angeles Chargers vs WAS

Dallas made short work of the Washington Redskins last week and Kirk Cousins will not have a better time of things against the Chargers. Washington has given up the ninth-most points to opposing D/STs over the last four games. Meanwhile, the Chargers have risen from the depths of D/ST rankings into the fourth slot by leading all defenses over the past four weeks. Their pass defense, in particular, is a strength, which bodes poorly for Washington. 

Sit these guys: Minnesota Vikings AND Carolina Panthers

These teams go at each other this week in Carolina. Although they are highly owned based on reputation, they are only ranked #11 (Carolina) and #20 (Minnesota) on the season. The Panthers have been even worse recently, ranking as the 18th D/ST in November. This is a good example of how a defense strong against segments doesn’t always translate to points. Carolina is a top-five defense against running backs and top-ten against quarterbacks. Minnesota is number one against the run and ranks fifth against fantasy quarterbacks. That doesn’t mean they rack up fumbles, interceptions, and sacks. They also give up fewer NFL fantasy points than most other teams, combining to average less than two points per game over the past four weeks. Don’t bother with them. 

Start these guys: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs DET

Detroit produces a lot of offense. But they also give up sacks and enough turnovers to be the 12th most generous team in giving up D/ST points to the other team. If Matt Stafford’s hand is bothering him, or if Jake Rudock gets the start, those numbers will only go up. 

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay quietly accrued the fifth most D/ST points in November, despite the fact that every fantasy owner plays as many position players as possible against them. Unless Stafford miraculously recovers 100% before game time, play the Buccaneers. 

Sit these guys: Denver Broncos vs NYJ

Another team living off a reputation, Denver’s defense is not the shutdown unit it once was. They will get a boost with the return of Aqib Talib, but I do not think he will cover more than one receiver at a time. Meanwhile, the Jets have had two wide receivers gain over 100 yards in each of the last two games. Josh McCown’s surprising season continues, throwing six touchdowns without an interception over the last two weeks. Matt Forte leads a solid running option and Austin Seferian-Jenkins will probably take advantage of the Broncos’ awful defense against tight ends. It adds up to a dud for the Broncos D/ST. Accept that the Jets are not a team to stream against and avoid Denver. 

Start these guys: New England Patriots at MIA 

After their 13-point D/ST-7 effort against the Bills in Week 13, the New England Patriots are officially a D/ST-1 team, ranking #12 for the season. When you remember where they were after five weeks, you realize what an effort Matt Patricia’s unit put in to make it this far. They could jump into the top ten after their game against the generous Miami Dolphins. 

Miami has given up the fourth-most NFL fantasy points to D/STs all season, averaging 11 points per game on the year and 12.5 over the past four games. Look for New England to stymie Jay Cutler and force him to make errors that will lead to another solid Patriots point total in Week 14. 

Sit these guys: Pittsburgh Steelers vs BAL

Pittsburgh has a leading NFL fantasy defense and they face an offense not known for being the most explosive. While it is true that the Ravens are vanilla and don’t normally score many points, their conservative approach also serves to limit D/ST scoring chances against them. Low point totals allowed defenses to average just over 5 points against them on the season, but as they moved the ball better with Alex Collins and a healthy receiving corps this past month, their points allowed has dipped to a league-best 0.67 points per game. Don’t count on the vaunted Steelers’ defense to put up many points for you this week. 

Week 14 flash in the pan prediction:

Kansas City’s offense re-ignited last week against the Jets. This week, their defense will finally resemble their strong units of years past. Oakland doesn’t know what hit them in a 35-3 Chief’s victory that puts KC atop the Week 14 leaderboard. 

About last week: I did it again!

This is getting to be a pattern. In Week 13, I correctly cited two of three start ‘ems and two of three sit ‘ems. Green Bay tacked on yards and a score in overtime to knock my Tampa Bay start out and I really didn’t see Miami coming. 

We’ll go for perfection in Week 14. Meanwhile, be sure to check in with RealSport every day for all the NFL fantasy news and updates you need to have. 

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