Fantasy Football

Eli gets the start in Week 14 action

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Michael Harmon

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The Thursday night game actually played out as we expected this week. The Broncos dominated the Raiders, and once again, Carson Palmer delivered strong fantasy numbers in a loss (273 yards with two touchdowns and two turnovers). Unfortunately, Peyton Manning accounted for just a single touchdown in this game, as the Raiders actually stood tall in the red zone. Coming into the game, the Broncos had converted 61% of their red zone appearances into touchdowns. The Raiders forced four Matt Prater field goals, and Manning was intercepted at the one-yard line.

It’s time to set the table for the remainder of the Week 14 slate. I’ll get things started with the junior Manning brother, who takes aim at the porous New Orleans defense.


(Exclude Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck)

Eli Manning vs. NO
Manning and the Giants crashed back to the ground against the Redskins after demolishing the Packers in Week 12. He passed for 280 yards with a touchdown, but didn’t load up the huge stat line expected against the struggling Washington secondary. Turn the page and get Manning back in the lineup for Week 14. The Saints have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season (23 touchdowns against eight interceptions with 26 sacks). I know that the Saints have played better of late and did well against the Falcons in Week 13, but I don’t see New Orleans shutting the Giants down here. The oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring contest.

I understand the reticence of fantasy owners to trust Manning this week. He’s produced four touchdown passes in his past five games.

-Hakeem Nicks missed Thursday’s practice, so keep an eye on his status as game-time approaches. His absence would bounce Manning down a slot or two.

Josh Freeman vs. PHI
Freeman wasn’t dominant against the Broncos in Week 13, but he did log another multi-touchdown game. It was his seventh multi-touchdown effort in his past eight games. Freeman makes it 8-of-9 this week against a slumping Philadelphia squad. The Eagles have allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks despite the big names in the secondary. Philadelphia has allowed 26 total touchdowns to quarterbacks while producing seven interceptions.

Matthew Stafford at GB
It hasn’t been pretty, but Stafford’s putting up strong fantasy numbers down the stretch. Stafford has generated three multi-touchdown performances in his past four starts (all Detroit losses) while averaging 337.3 passing yards. He passed for 266 yards with one touchdown and three turnovers (two interceptions).

Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Lions historically. As a result, Stafford needs to keep gunning downfield.

Matt Schaub at NE
Schaub has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four of his past six games, including the ridiculous 527-yard, five-touchdown game against the Jaguars. He’s on the radar as a back-end QB1 in what should be a high-scoring affair in Foxboro.

The New England secondary has been better of late, so the overall season rankings are somewhat misleading. The Patriots have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (24 total touchdowns against 14 interceptions).

Colin Kaepernick vs. MIA
Kaepernick looked like an ordinary quarterback in the Week 13 loss to St. Louis. He failed to produce a touchdown, though he did rush for 84 yards. He faces a middle of the road Miami defense this week. The Dolphins have allowed 257.7 passing yards per game, but only 15 passing touchdowns to date. As a result, Kaepernick ranks as a mid-QB2 this week.

Russell Wilson vs. ARI
Wilson was absolutely masterful in leading the Seahawks to an overtime road victory over the Bears. It was his sixth multi-touchdown performance in his past seven games, an effort that included 71 rushing yards. This is hardly a slam dunk, as the Cardinals rank second against quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points. However, I’m not betting against him at home after watching him roll over Chicago. His recent dominance continues this week.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. SD
Roethlisberger returns to action for this important home game against the free-falling Chargers (losers of seven of the past eight games). He’s on the board for a start this week against this middling San Diego defense (17th against quarterbacks). The Chargers have allowed 21 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions, though this unit has also forced 15 fumbles.

Roethlisberger produced at least one touchdown pass in each of his first nine appearances, including five multi-touchdown games.

Sleeper Options

Jay Cutler at MIN
Will Mike Tice’s offensive line be able to thwart the efforts of Jared Allen a second time? That’s the big question hanging over this matchup as the Bears travel to Minnesota. Cutler was efficient in the Week 12 meeting, completing 23-of-31 attempts for 188 yards with one touchdown in the 28-10 rout. He’s a somewhat risky play, having produced just five multi-touchdown games this season. However, this is a strong matchup against a Minnesota defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

Jake Locker at IND
Locker passed for 309 yards last week against the Texans, but he turned the ball over five times. We can reasonably expect Locker to keep throwing the ball at a high rate to keep pace with Andrew Luck. Locker has attempted 85 passes in the past two weeks (44 completions). It’s a good spot for Locker against a generous Indianapolis pass defense. The Colts have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (21 touchdowns against six interceptions).

Brandon Weeden vs. KC
Weeden earned his third 300-yard game in the Browns’ 20-17 Week 13 win over the Raiders. With speedster Josh Gordon emerging as a dangerous downfield threat, Weeden is on the board as a popular “Sleeper” option this week. The Chiefs have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, including surrendering 25 passing touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Turnovers have plagued the Chiefs all season, and Weeden may be set up with multiple short field opportunities.


Matt Ryan at CAR
Following a huge start to the season, Ryan’s production has slowed down markedly. He’s produced a single multi-touchdown game in the past five weeks. He torched these Panthers earlier in the season for 369 yards with three touchdowns (one interception) in Week 4. However, the Panthers did sack Ryan seven times in that contest, and it’s a unit that has played well this season overall. Carolina has allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Ryan ranks as a back-end QB1 this week.

Tony Romo at CIN
Romo demonstrated his usual November magic, leading the Cowboys to a 3-2 record with ten touchdown passes against three turnovers. This matchup against the Bengals is a step up in class over recent opponents (two of his past four games were played against the Eagles). Cincinnati has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, surrendering 14 total touchdowns with nine interceptions. The Bengals also lead the NFL with 39 sacks. I’m fearful that the Dallas offensive line fails to allow him adequate time to work downfield.

Andy Dalton vs. DAL
Dalton’s been on a roll, generating four consecutive multi-touchdown games during the Bengals’ current winning streak. This game represents a difficult challenge. The Cowboys have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, and Dalton may be playing without No. 2 option Jermaine Gresham (GTD).

Philip Rivers at PIT
Rivers ranks among the biggest disappointments of the season and was featured prominently in my “Derision 2012” column. The ninth-year quarterback has produced seven multi-touchdown games this season. He’s also committed multiple turnovers in six games, including five of his multi-touchdown games. Rivers has also been sacked 36 times.

This week, Rivers squares off against the No. 1 fantasy defense against quarterbacks. The Steelers have not generated a huge turnover count this year, but they’ve been stingy through the air (178 passing yards and 1.1 passing touchdowns per game). The loss of Ike Taylor does perhaps expose the secondary, but Rivers has been too inconsistent to trust in a playoff matchup.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Titans, Colts, Raiders, Saints, Giants, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ike Taylor, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Prater, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck

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