Week 14 is playoff time in most fantasy leagues, a time for owners to embark on a run to a championship.
While other leagues are using this week as their regular-season finale, the focus here is on which players are solid locks to help owners advance to the semifinals.
On the other end, there are those players whose Week 14 matchups and/or recent production will lead to a quick postseason exit if plugged into fantasy lineups.
START: Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: One of the hottest passers in fantasy, Cousins has 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions in his past five games. Count on him continuing that hot hand when he and the Minnesota offense faces a Tampa Bay defense that allows the third-most air yards (2,078) while also ranking 26th in yards allowed after catch (1,549).
SIT: Josh Allen, QB, Bills: Allen has become a must-start option on a weekly basis, but this might be the week to find a suitable Plan B as he must contend with a Steelers defense that allows the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and the second-fewest passing yards allowed (2,398).
START: David Montgomery, RB, Bears: He’s looked like an RB1 the past two games, amassing 175 yards and two scores on 28 carries along with adding nine receptions. The presence of a Texans defense that allows the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs makes Montgomery a strong anchor for any fantasy playoff lineup.
SIT: Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles: Sanders has become a non-factor in the inept Eagles offense, managing just 46 rushing yards on a mere 16 attempts the past two weeks. He hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 5, and facing a Saints run defense that allows the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs only adds to the decision to keep Sanders benched.
START: Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals: Even with Joe Burrow out for the season, Higgins is in position to put up solid Week 14 numbers at the expense of a Cowboys defense that not only gives up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers, but also is tied for most touchdown passes allowed (27) and will be playing on just four days’ rest.
SIT: Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: Landry has pulled in 16 of his 21 targets for 205 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games, but the good times will come to a screeching halt when he must line up against a Baltimore defense ranked seventh in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to opposing wideouts while allowing only eight touchdown passes to opposing WRs.
START: Tyler Eifert, TE, Jaguars: Since QB Mike Glennon became the starter, Eifert has pulled in nine of 10 targets and a touchdown. Eifert makes for a good stealth option as he goes against a Titans defense that has given up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. He’ll also see more value in PPR formats.
SIT: Will Dissly, TE, Seahawks: Dissly comes off a season-best five targets in Week 14 and gets a solid matchup against a Jets defense that allows the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. However, Dissly has been a non-factor most of the season, making it difficult to bank on him delivering production this week.
START: Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers: Yes, Herbert burned fantasy owners with a Week 13 dud, yet the rookie QB deserves a second chance when he gets to face a Falcons pass defense that has been the most QB-friendly in fantasy while also giving up the third-most passing yards (3,423) in the league.
SIT: Devontae Booker, RB, Raiders: The highly sought-after Week 13 waiver wire option was a huge disappointment against the Jets. If Josh Jacobs remains sidelined, don’t count on Booker offering much production against a Colts defense that allows the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game and is tied for third in fewest rushing yards per attempt (3.8).
START: Corey Davis, WR, Titans: Since being shut out in Week 9, Davis has averaged 108 receiving yards per game in the past four weeks and added his first touchdown since Week 8 in the loss to the Browns. Look for QB Ryan Tannehill to give him a shot or two deep downfield against a Jaguars defense that allows the most yards after the catch.
SIT: Jared Goff, QB, Rams: Goff is fading at the wrong time for fantasy owners, having thrown just four touchdowns in his past four games despite throwing for at least 300 yards in three of those outings. A Thursday night matchup against a Patriots defense that shut out Chargers QB Justin Herbert in Week 13 and ranks fourth in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to opposing QBs is a bad mix for Goff’s fantasy hopes.
START: Melvin Gordon III, RB, Broncos: A 131-yard performance against the Chiefs in Week 13 was a reminder of how productive Gordon can be. He will get an opportunity for a solid encore when he runs against a Panthers defense that allows the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
SIT: Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals: He’s scored in three straight games, but Drake has averaged just 52 rushing yards in the same span. Drake faces a Giants defense that has allowed just 10 rushing touchdowns this season and also faces the challenge of losing snaps to fellow RB Chase Edmonds if the game becomes a high-scoring matchup.
START: Taysom Hill, QB, Saints: Hill tossed a pair of touchdown passes in Week 13 and gets a matchup against an Eagles defense that has struggled all season against run-oriented quarterbacks.
SIT: DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: Having Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback has been a detriment to Parker’s production. Keep Parker on the fantasy bench as the Dolphins meet a Chiefs defense that is fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by SportsGrid Inc., www.sportsgrid.com