Week 14 brings the start of several Fantasy Football playoffs, and Jake Ciely of RotoExperts.com will be providing exclusive Fantasy coverage for NewOrleansSaints.com to help you take home a championship.
The New Orleans Saints came up big in Pittsburgh, and they're back on track and in control of their own playoff destiny. With the Panthers coming in to town, the Saints will look to keep the momentum going and maintain their position atop the NFC South. Meanwhile, as many fantasy owners open their league playoffs this week, they can confidently lean on top Saints performers.
Quarterback Drew Brees torched the Steelers last week and should keep rolling. Brees finished with 257 yards, five touchdowns and 30.28 Fantasy Points (FP) on NFL.com. If you had Brees, there is a great chance you advanced to the Fantasy Playoffs. There is also a great chance that Brees will lead you to another win, given his matchup with the Panthers. The Panthers allow more FPPG to quarterbacks than the Steelers do. Brees is among the elite QB options and someone that should never leave your lineup.
Even without a touchdown thanks to Brees' huge day, Mark Ingram still finished as the 13th-best running back last week with 12.10 NFL.com Fantasy Points. The Saints turned to Ingram 23 times, further proving that he is now a big part of the offense and the leader in the backfield. The Panthers are susceptible to the run, giving up 20.10 FPPG and the fourth most rushing touchdowns. Ingram is once again a high-end RB2. Pierre Thomas continues to be on the radar as a solid RB3/Flex play in PPR leagues. With Ingram seeing heavy backfield work and Brees completing 19 passes, Thomas wasn't needed as much last week, but that will change with the Panthers giving up the ninth most receptions to running backs.
How about that game from Kenny Stills? He has been terrific the last two weeks with 13 receptions, 260 yards and a touchdown. As with quarterbacks and running backs, the Panthers are weak against receivers, allowing 24.87 FPPG, which includes the second most touchdowns (16) only behind the Texans (17). Stills is a locked-in WR2 given his usage these last two games, and Marques Colston is a solid WR3 option. Colston has scored in each of the last two games, and given those touchdowns allowed by Carolina, is a good bet to make it three in a row. Nick Toon is a solid deep league play. Brees has looked Toon's way in the red zone a decent amount the last two games, and last week it paid off with a score.
Do not worry about tight end Jimmy Graham. Even Graham gave credit to the Steelers plan to stop him, but pointed out the heavy risk involved, as the scheming let Brees exploit the defense elsewhere. Graham is still the second-highest scoring tight end on the year, and the Panthers have given up three tight end touchdowns and 43 FP over their last five games. That includes letting Graham go for 83 yards and a score in Week 9.
The Panthers offense has allowed the fifth most sacks and eighth most turnovers this year. That makes the Saints DST a good upside play for deeper leagues where units are being hoarded for the playoffs.
Those playing the quarterback carrousel this year have a few nice options this week. Tony Romo will bounce back, as the Cowboys face a Bears team allowing 19.95 FPPG to quarterbacks on NFL.com, second only to the Redskins. Russell Wilson has a great matchup against the Eagles, a team allowing 18.90 FPPG and that has given up the sixth most QB rushing yards (205). As we've seen from the Raiders, they are always a good matchup for Fantasy purposes. Colin Kaepernick draws them this week and is a high reward/risk play.
If Rashad Jennings is ready for Sunday, you keep him in every lineup, as the Titans allow 23.30 FPPG to running backs (second most). However, if Jennings is out, that makes Andre Williams a solid RB2 option given those numbers. In that same matchup, the Giants allow the sixth most FPPG at 21.75 on NFL.com, which makes Bishop Sankey a high-end RB3/Flex. Isaiah Crowell is the leader in the Browns backfield, and he will see a much easier go of it against the Colts this week. Indy allows 21.35 FPPG and has given up 12 rushing touchdowns (third most).
The Ravens continue to give up the most FPPG and yards to receivers, which makes Mike Wallace and Jarvis Landry good plays this week. Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee all saw eight targets against the Giants. It's tough to pinpoint which is the most reliable, but all have upside with the Texans defense allowing 28.24 receiving FPPG. Given the defenses left in the Top 10 for most FPPG allowed, Kelvin Benjamin, Doug Baldwin, Stedman Bailey, Davante Adams, DeSean Jackson (if plays) and Terrance Williams all have more upside than usual.
With tight ends, it's been all about the touchdown, which makes Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph two of the better TE1 plays this week, as they face the Bears and Jets, respectively. If Jordan Cameron is healthy, he has a great matchup with the Colts and is immediately a TE1, even with some risk. The Giants' defense has been tough or extremely forgiving against tight end of late. Over their last seven games, tight ends scored 23, 20, 23, 3, 0, 11, 1. Delanie Walker has a ton of upside given those numbers, but just know that the Giants might focus on him, allowing the receivers to do more damage.
The Texans DST is the best play this week, as they face the Jaguars at home. After last week, it's likely hard to find the Rams defense available anywhere, but if they're out there, they get another good matchup with the Redskins. As seen on Monday night, the Jets offense is struggling, which allows defenses to average 10.5 FPPG, thereby making the Vikings unit a solid pick-up-and-play. If you're looking for lesser-owned kickers, the Titans and Jaguars allow the second and third most points with 25 field goals allowed, each.