Congrats to those of you who are still playing meaningful games in week 14. That is no small task. For many of you this is either a do or die week to make your playoffs or round one. In either case you’re likely going to have to make some tough decisions about your lineup. Matchups are a great way to help you choose between 2 players at similar tiers.
Remember just because a player has a good matchup on Thursday night doesn’t mean you should start him over someone who plays Sunday or Monday. Start your studs and don’t overthink it. If you lose because Odell Beckham wet the bed you live with that. If you lose because you decided to play Tedd Ginn in a plus matchup over Amari Cooper you will regret it forever. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Alex Smith, KC
Smith has had an up and down year and even in some plus matchups has disappointed. The big difference with Smith this year is his lack of running. Usually his legs would give him a nice safe floor but that hasn’t been the case this year. In week 14 he gets the 19th ranked DVOA and the defense that has given up the 8th most fantasy points to QBs (21.17) in the Raiders. Still in such an important week it would be tough to stomach starting Smith.
Derek Carr, OAK
Kansas City is a defense that gives up tons of yards but has been living off of turnovers. Though they rank 12th in pass DVOA they’ve given up the 7th most fantasy points to QBs (21.33). Carr is looking like a bonafide MVP candidate this year and playing the best ball of his short career. Start him with confidence this week.
Spencer Ware, KC
Ware almost doubled his touchdown output for the season last week by finding pay dirt twice. Unfortunately he is not getting the goal line looks that you’d like for a big running back with just 3 in the last 4 weeks (1 in week 13). Still you’d have to be absolutely loaded at RB to sit him this week against the 28th ranked rush DVOA and a team giving up the 3rd most points to RBs (20.67). LeSean McCoy just torched the raiders for a 17-130-0 rushing line and a 7-61 receiving line. Ware offers a safe floor in week 14.
Latavius Murray, OAK
Since DeAndre Washington was a healthy scratch in week 12 Murray has taken over the backfield. In those 2 weeks he’s seen 66% and 70% of the teams snaps. He’s also received 22 and 23 touches including 4 goal line carries. The Chiefs rank 19th in run DVOA and have given up the 19th most points to running backs. The matchup isn’t soft, but it also isn’t overly tough. If Murray gets another 20+ touches and 1 or 2 goal line carries he will make his owners happy.
Jeremy Maclin, KC
Maclin has finally begun practicing again and all signs point to him playing in week 14. While this helps the KC offense it doesn’t really help fantasy owners. It’s always risky playing a guy coming off a long injury and Maclin was barely fantasy relevant before his injury. The matchup is good as the Raiders rank 28th in pass DVOA and have given up the 14th most points to receivers but Maclin is just too hard to trust.
Tyreek Hill, KC
While Maclin’s return is good for KC as a team, it’s bad for Hill and Travis Kelce (more on this later). While I still expect Hill to be used it seems likely he will see a dip in targets. He could make for a flex play in deeper leagues but it’s hard to see him as much more than that
Amari Cooper, OAK
Cooper should line up away from Marcus Peters (ranked 39th) most of the game as he lines up on the left 57% of the time. When these teams played earlier in the year Cooper saw his highest target share of the season (39%) and went for a 10-129-0 line. Whether Phillip Gaines plays (ranked 120th) or Kenneth Acker is in again (ranked 77th) Cooper has a great matchup in week 14 and should dominate the targets.
Michael Crabtree, OAK
Unfortunately for Crabtree he takes over half his snaps on the right which means he will see the most of Peters. When these teams met in week 6 Crabtree saw his lowest target share of the season (12%) and put up a 2-10-0 line. Even with the tough matchup Crabtree is a tough guy to bench and his red zone targets always make him a threat to score even if he isn’t piling up the yards.
Seth Roberts, OAK
Roberts plays primarily out of the slot (78%) and will be matched up against Steven Nelson (ranked 88th). The matchup is in Roberts favor and he makes for a good play for those in deeper leagues. You likely have better options in shallow leagues.
Travis Kelce, KC
Kelce has been on fire lately posting 100+ yards in 3 straight games. Unfortunately with Maclin returning this week it seems likely he will lose some targets. In the 8 games with Maclin he has averaged 6.5 targets and 54 yards. In the 4 games without Maclin he averaged 9.5 targets and 95 yards. Kelce is still a must start tight end but I expect his production to dip back down this week.
Clive Walford, OAK
The Chiefs are the 6th toughest defense against tight ends giving up just 5 points to the position per game. Since Oakland’s week 10 bye Walford has not seen more than 4 targets in a game. You would have to be really desperate to start him this week.
Someone I forgot? Have a question about a matchup? Let me know in the comments below.