By Matt Citak
After months of sweating every Sunday, we've finally come to the most stressful part of the fantasy season. If you are reading this article, then that means you have made your fantasy football finals. Given how unpredictable this season has been, getting to the playoffs was not an easy task. But now that you're here, let's try to move from the first round to the semifinals.
We wish everyone luck when the playoff season begins!
With this in mind, here's the CBS 14 Local Sports Week Fantasy starts and sits.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The confrontation looks tough on paper, as the Ravens enter Week 14 allowing only 199 yards per game, which ranks third In the NFL However, you must keep in mind that Baltimore just lost its top corner, Jimmy Smith, to an Achilles tear. Smith was the No. 13 Pro Football Focus cornerback, and without him his high school is very successful. It is also important to remember that this week's confrontation between the two North rivals of the AFC takes place in Pittsburgh, where Roethlisberger has absolutely dominated. Since 2014, when facing the Ravens, Roethlisberger has averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game in Baltimore, but 29.4 fantasy points per game at home. The 35-year veteran has 10 touchdowns in his last three games, and is now tied for fifth in pbadive touchdowns in the season (22). Look for Ben to keep the good times on Sunday Night Football.
QB: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are in a downward spiral, having lost six of their last seven games and their leadership in the AFC West. Kansas City is coming off a tough 31-38 loss to the New York Jets, but Smith did everything he could to get the Chiefs to win. The veteran quarterback threw for 366 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, while adding a good 70-yard run to his final stats. Smith is in line for another great performance this week, as the Chiefs welcome the Raiders to Kansas City. The 33-year-old has finished with at least 20 fantasy points in three of his last five meetings with Oakland, including more than 25 fantasy points in week 7. The Raiders are delivering more than 20 fantasy points per game to the players. opposing field marshals this season. that makes Smith a solid play in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
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QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
After years of quarterback play Poor, the 49ers finally had a glimmer of hope last week when Garoppolo made his first start with San Francisco. The 26-year-old did not endure the biggest fantasy day, but still completed 70.3 percent of his pbades for 293 yards, showing a balance in his pocket against a surprisingly solid Bears defense. Garoppolo has a much better pairing this week when the 49ers face the Texans in Week 14. Houston enters the pairing in 22nd place in pbading yards per game (236) and tied for the 27th touchdown allowed per game (23 ), and they are allowing most of the fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. If you're looking to pbad on a quarterback this week, you could do much worse than Garoppolo.
RB: Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots
It took more than half of the season, but Burkhead finally emerged from the cramped New England backfield as the team's main red zone weapon . The fifth-year team has accumulated five touchdowns in its last four games, and represents nearly 40 percent of the touchdowns in the New England red zone in the last month. Rob Gronkowski was suspended for week 14, and the last time he missed, James White saw nine goals in the pbading game. In recent weeks, Burkhead has taken on White's role in the offense and has also received almost all of the carries from the 10-yard line (top-5 in opportunities within the 5-yard and 10-yard lines in the last month). The veteran has received double-digit carries in three of the last four games, and seems to have solidified his role in the Patriots offense. Burkhead could be in a monster game in week 14.
RB: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Let me start with this by saying that Bernard is a must-start IF Joe Mixon can not adapt above, and considering that the rookie just suffered a concussion on Monday Night Football, it is likely that Bernard has the start. After Mixon fell in the second quarter of Game of Week 13 of Cincinnati, Bernard came in and saw 100 percent of the team's career touches, having 13 carries for 77 yards (5.9 yards per carry). The 26-year-old received just 47 carries this season, but leads the team with an average yards per carry of 4.2. With Jeremy Hill already on IR, if Mixon can not return to the field in time, Bernard is likely to receive a huge workload. This makes the veteran a great play this week, even in a mediocre matchup against the Bears and their defense at No. 15.
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RB: Mike Davis, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been looking for an answer in the running position since rookie Chris Carson fractured his ankle in week 4. In week 13, It seemed as if Seattle could have found the solution to their problem. Mike Davis, active for the second time all season, was the leader of the Seahawks, taking the ball 16 times for 64 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and adding four receptions for 37 yards. Seattle has a tough fight this week, fighting the Jacksonville Jaguars and their elite defense. While the Jaguars' defense has been playing well all season, it thrives against the pbad, but in reality it is fighting the race. Jacksonville is giving up 4.56 yards per carry, and if Seattle wants to come out of Week 14 with a win, it will have to find a way to set the running game. Davis could put furtive production of RB2 in this pairing.
WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
One of the biggest plots of Week 13 was the long-awaited return of wide receiver Josh Gordon, who appeared in his first NFL game since December 21, 2014. Gordon had a difficult duel on his return, having to face Casey Hayward and the Los Angeles Chargers. Well, shadow coverage from one of the top corners of the league did not bother Gordon, as he caught four pbades for 85 yards. That performance may not sound so good on paper, but it made Gordon the second wide receiver to have 85 yards or more against Hayward throughout the season (Odell Beckham Jr. is the other). The Browns Week 14 showdown is much easier as they welcome the Packers to Cleveland. Green Bay is allowing the second fantasy points per game to the outside receivers, and has just lost cornerback Kevin King for the rest of the season. Look for Gordon to feast on the Packers' exhausted high school.
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WR: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders  Crabtree returns after missing last week due to his suspension a game to fight with the cornerback of the Broncos, Aqib Talib, and I do not think their match can improve. Oakland has a big divisional game against Kansas City this week, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid suspended cornerback Marcus Peters because of his loss to the Jets last week. Peters is the top corner of Kansas City and the best player in high school, and the defense will certainly fight without him. Add the fact that Amari Cooper seems to be on track to miss a second straight game, and Crabtree is in an ideal position to receive double-digit goals. Crabtree has found his way to the end zone in three of his last five games against Kansas City, and with the implications of the playoffs around this game, he looks for the veteran receiver to have one of his strongest games of the season.
WR: Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
Garoppolo was not the only 49er to play well during SF's QB debut last week. Goodwin, who entered Week 13 with a record of the season of five receptions, caught the eight pbades thrown in his direction, totaling 99 yards in what was his best performance in the 2017 season. The Texans are allowing the ninth point of fantasy by game to open receivers, which is where Goodwin runs most of his routes. In addition, Houston is allowing the fourth largest number of fantasy points per game to wide receivers in deep pbades, something that should benefit Goodwin to a large extent. The fifth-year receiver ran a 40-yard dash in just 4.27 seconds on his harvester and leads San Francisco on deep goals. As long as Garoppolo does not set a trap for a performance, Goodwin should have a good day on Sunday.
TE: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers  Brate was able to break his six-touchdown streak without scoring by catching two touchdown pbades, one for 28 yards and the other for nine, against the Packers last week. The loss of extra time at Green Bay was also the first game of Jameis Winston after missing several games due to a shoulder injury, and the young quarterback did not seem to show any kind of rust. Winston has relied on his tight ends all season, and he resumed the game right where he left off at week 13. This week the Buccaneers will face the Lions defense by giving up eight more fantasy points per game to oppose tight ends. . Detroit has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in the last three games. Brate is a great substitute for any fantasy owner struggling with Gronk and possibly Zach Ertz this week.
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TE: Austin Seferian -Jenkins, New York Jets
You can not deny the fact that Seferian-Jenkins has been pretty horrible in the last month and a half. After catching a touchdown pbad in three consecutive games of weeks 5-7, ASJ has not been able to find the end zone since, while he has surpbaded 30 yards just once in his last five games. That's not the kind of production you want to see outside of a tight end when we enter the fantasy playoffs. But Week 14 could serve as the inflection point for the veteran tight end season, as a showdown with the Broncos could help break the cold streak of any tight end. Only the Giants and the Browns are allowing more fantasy points per game to the tight end of this position than the Broncos, who have allowed an opposing tight end to score in six of the last eight games. Starting ASJ comes with a risk, but with this pairing, this is the week to roll the dice.
QB: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Cousins has been great this season, throwing for 3,289 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the first 12 games of the year in Washington. But good luck is unlikely to hit Week 14, as Cousins has one of his toughest games of 2017 with the Redskins heading west from Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Los Angeles is the third best player in the opposing pbad ranking, the fifth best in pbading yards per game, and the fifth best in pbadive touchdowns allowed this season. The Chargers' secondary is fantastic, but the pbad rush, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, is also excellent. Offensive linemen Trent Williams and Morgan Moses did not train on Wednesday, which means there's a good chance that the Redskins are without at least one of these two starters on Sunday. That is horrible news for Cousins, who could be spending a good part of this game running for his life.
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QB: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
There is no player who has benefited more than the arrival of Sean McVay in Los Angeles that Jared Goff. The second-year quarterback is enjoying a second-year stellar campaign. With 75 percent of the season behind us, Goff has thrown for 3,184 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. But the young quarterback could face a difficult day on Sunday as the Rams will fight the Eagles in a showdown between two of the NFC's biggest powers. The Philadelphia pbad defense received a big boost with the return of Ronald Darby in Week 11, and after a bad performance against Seattle last week, they will look for a rebound performance. If Robert Woods can come back, I like Goff's chances of success this week. If he can not go, he would hesitate to start with Goff.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Mariota managed to reach 20 fantasy points last week for just the second time this season, but it was largely due to her hasty statistics. The young quarterback picked up 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground, which helped propel his horrible fantasy day. Mariota has now gone two consecutive games with less than 185 pbading yards, and has thrown multiple touchdowns in just two contests this year. The Titans face off against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14, and Arizona has had three of the last four quarterbacks who have faced 18 fantasy points or less. His running skills always raise his level of fantasy, but this pairing could easily end up being really ugly for the third-year quarterback.
RB: Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings
Murray has done much better than people thought he would do after replacing rookie Dalvin Cook after the rookie broke up. The veteran back ranks sixth in carries per game since Week 7, and has performed well with carries in the last month. Murray has accumulated four touchdowns in his last four games, while recording between 15-20 carries in each competition during that period. But for any fantasy owner who trusts Murray, their Week 14 showdown could not be much worse. The Panthers have one of the best NFL lead sevens, and they only allow 88.6 rushing yards per game. Carolina has had runners against the sixth least land fantasy points per game, and while Murray sometimes receives one or two receptions, Jerick McKinnon is clearly the recovery of the team. I'm getting away from Murray in this difficult duel.
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RB: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Murray is not the only runner who could fight in the duel between Vikings and Panthers. McCaffrey is enjoying a solid rookie campaign. While he has only led the ball 82 times for 284 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, McCaffrey has played an important role in Carolina's pbading game, receiving 64 receptions for 501 yards and four receiving touchdowns. However, I would worry about starting the rookie against the Vikings. Minnesota has yielded only four touchdowns to runners all season, and only four of them have reached double-digit fantasy points against them. The Vikings also do a good job limiting the runners who catch pbades, and have had success against people like Chris Thompson, Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. With McCaffrey scoring 11 touchdowns or fewer in three consecutive games, his fantasy production will depend on him scoring a touchdown, which is far from a guarantee against the Vikings.
RB: CJ Anderson, Denver Broncos  Anderson had his best game in nearly three months last week, adding 67 yards on the ground and an additional 43 yards in the air. It was the first time the veteran had reached 100 yards of practice since the fourth week, and it was also his biggest participation since Denver's fourth game. Despite their 5-7 record, the Jets have played very well against runners throughout the season. New York is in the top 10 for the least number of fantasy points allowed for opposing runners in the season, and has not allowed a round to reach double-digit fantasy points against them in standard leagues in four games. The Jets have retained all the runners who have faced 12.0 fantasy points or less since Week 4. While it seems that Anderson was successful in fighting Devontae Booker for the role of Denver starting rusher, I am planting the veteran firmly in my bank this week.
WR: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
The Packers' offense did not look good since Aaron Rodgers fell with a broken clavicle. That should not be a surprise, since removing an MVP candidate from the offensive would affect any team. But even with the offensive struggles of the team, Adams has been able to continue producing good fantasy numbers. The young catcher has registered seven receptions, 80 yards or a touchdown in four of the six games started by backup QB Brett Hundley. And while the showdown against the Browns without trumps sounds good on paper, the Cleveland defense has been pretty stingy against opposing wide receivers. Cleveland is allowing the ninth least PPR fantasy points to oppose WR on the season, and has Marvin Jones Jr. (3.2 points), Marqise Lee (9.5 points) and A.J. Green (11.6 points) marked from Weeks 10-12. Cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are playing great football, and will likely limit Adams and Packers' offense this week.
Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images  WR: Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
Funchess has done a fantastic job serving as the receiver Open Panthers No. 1 since Kelvin Benjamin was traded to the Bills. In his last four games, the young receiver has caught 21 of 33 goals for 346 yards and three touchdowns, clearly serving as Cam Newton's favorite target in the pbading game. But it's hard to imagine Funchess organizing a big game against the Vikings defense this week. Only five wide receivers reached double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues against Minnesota this season. The most important reason is the presence of elite cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who will probably line up against Funchess for most of Sunday's game. Greg Olsen is also expected to return this week, which will reduce the Funchess goals. Start Funchess if necessary, but you should reduce your expectations by a significant margin in this discouraging confrontation.
WR: Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
Doctson has played some of the best football matches in history. his short career in the NFL in recent weeks, catching a touchdown or more than 80 receiving yards in each of his last three games. But as mentioned with Cousins, the Redskins will face the Chargers' elite pbad defense this week, and Doctson is the most likely candidate to see the shadow coverage of Pro Football Focus's No. 1-ranked cornerback, Casey Hayward. . Hayward has played in 92 percent of the plays in Los Angeles since Week 6, and has delivered just 3.8 fantasy points per game in his coverage during that stretch of games. If that was not impressive enough, the wide receivers he faced during that span include Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant. I'm avoiding Doctson at all costs this week.
TE: Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
Davis joins teammates Cousins and Doctson on the "Sit" list. If you have not noticed to know, I'm not at the top with the Redskins this week. Davis has done an admirable job replacing the injured Jordan Reed this season, collecting 542 receiving yards despite having two games where he was not attacked even once. But the veteran tight end has apparently fallen off Cousins' radar, having only been targeted three times in the last two games. Meanwhile, Niles Paul, Washington's third tight end of the season, has been signed eight times in the last two weeks. Davis is too difficult to trust at this moment, and being the fantasy playoffs, he is too risky. The Chargers are also giving up the seventh least amount of fantasy points per game for the opposing wings, which adds to Davis' grim outlook this week.
TE: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Cook has been decent this season, with 43 receptions for 546 yards and a touchdown in 12 games. But its production in the last two weeks is very worrying. Cook has caught only one of five goals in each of the last two Oakland games, combining for 11 total yards during that span. What makes things worse is that those two matches were against the Giants and the Broncos, two of the NFL's worst defenses against tight-end opponents. If he could not produce against two of the worst defenses against his position, why would he do well against the best defense against opposing tight ends? Kansas City limited Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry, Jason Witten, Evan Engram and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to less than 6.0 fantasy PPR points each this season. And although Cook's best outing of the season was against the Chiefs in Week 7, I do not expect to repeat this time. If Cook is his initial tight end, he would be looking at the exemption cable for a replacement for Week 14.
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