Fantasy Football Matchups: Will Dalton, LaFell roll over the Browns?

It’s fantasy football playoff time! Hopefully, this week’s matchup recommendations can help.

Remember that you’ll rarely see suggestions here to start studs like David Johnson and Mike Evans. Most of the suggestions below aren’t for must-start or must-sit types.

Note: The fantasy points per game allowed (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues.

Thursday game: Raiders at Chiefs

Week 14 Fantasy Player Rankings

QB | RB | WR | TE | DST | K


Stay away: Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. Broncos)

The Broncos’ pass defense is the league’s best in both real life (192.7 passing yards per game, 68.6 QB rating) and fantasy football (12.5 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks). I think the Titans will win this game, but in a low-scoring affair. As terrific as Mariota has been this season, he should sit the bench in Round 1 of your fantasy playoffs.


Blake Bortles against the Vikings’ second-ranked fantasy defense (13.3 FPPG to opposing QBs) in a game with an over-under of 39? Are you crazy?

Play, play, play: Andy Dalton, Bengals (at Browns)

We haven’t heard much about Dalton during the Bengals’ disappointing season, but as QB14 in fantasy scoring, he’s been kinda sorta OK. If he’s been on your bench, consider him for a spot start against a Browns D that has allowed 28 touchdowns through the air and 19.8 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks.


Jared Goff has struggled so far and certainly isn’t a must start, but he’s on the fantasy QB2 radar at home against the Falcons’ league-worst fantasy defense (20.8 FPPG to opposing QBs). At QB22, I’ve got Goff ranked ahead of Bortles, Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz and Ryan Tannehill, among others.

Running backs

Stay away: Rashad Jennings, Giants (vs. Cowboys)

Jennings’ 6-34-1 receiving line masked a poor rushing game in Week 13 against the Steelers. On Sunday night, he’ll match up with a Cowboys unit that allows a so-so 4.2 yards per carry, but ranks second in fewest rushing yards per game (82.2) and third in FPPG allowed (14.3) to opposing backs because their offense dominates in time of possession. Add in the fact that Jennings is pretty much sharing snaps with Paul Perkins, and he’s a clear bench candidate for fantasy owners.


The Ravens’ duo of Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon are no better than flexy versus the sixth-ranked Patriots fantasy defense (15.2 FPPG to opposing RBs).

Play, play, play: Matt Forte, Jets (vs. 49ers)

Hey, have you heard the one about starting your running backs against the 49ers, who are allowing a ridiculous 25.8 FPPG to opposing backs? The only runner who hasn’t lit them up lately is Jay Ajayi, and that’s because three-fifths of his offensive line was injured. Ignore Forte’s recent struggles, and roll with him in San Fran this week.


Need a less obvious option? If Ryan Mathews returns for the Eagles after his two-week absence, consider him at home against the Redskins’ 27th-ranked fantasy defense (20.6 FPPG to opposing RBs). Remember that Mathews ran 19 times for 109 yards and two TDs against the Falcons in Week 10.

Wide receivers

Stay away: Rishard Matthews, Titans (vs. Broncos)

Yep, it’s the Broncos again. We hate starting QBs and WRs against the Broncos, who are allowing a league-low 14.4 FPPG to opposing wide receivers. Despite having five touchdowns in his past five games, Matthews should be avoided in most cases.


Remember Allen Robinson’s solid three-game stretch last month? Forget it. He’s caught eight passes for 73 yards over his past three games, and he’s facing the Vikings (16.3 FPPG to opposing WRs) on Sunday. No, thanks.

Play, play, play: Brandon LaFell, Bengals (at Browns)

In almost three full games without A.J. Green, LaFell has been targeted 25 times, with Tyler Boyd getting 23 looks and Tyler Eifert 19. LaFell’s strong Week 13 (5-95-1) could be repeated against the Browns, who rank 30th with 26.8 FPPG allowed to wide receivers.

Tight ends

Stay away: Dwayne Allen, Colts (vs. Texans)

Allen is owned in just 16 percent of leagues, and is a tempting pickup after scoring three touchdowns against the Jets on Monday night. However, the Texans rank T-4 against opposing tight ends, allowing 5.1 FPPG. Also, Allen’s big game came with the same number of targets (four) as fellow Colts TE Jack Doyle, and fewer than WRs T.Y. Hilton (10) and Donte Moncrief (six). Starting Allen is essentially hoping for a red-zone conversion against a solid opponent, and that’s too risky.


Play, play, play: Lance Kendricks, Rams (vs. Falcons)

If you missed out on Ladarius Green and C.J. Fiedorowicz and still need a tight end, consider Kendricks against a Falcons defense that ranks 27th with 9.6 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. In three games with Jared Goff, Kendricks has been targeted 19 times, catching 10 passes for 102 yards and a score. Those certainly aren’t big numbers, but considering the opponent, you could do worse. I’ve got him at TE14.

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