IDP Start em, Sit em – Week 14 (2022 Fantasy Football)
Thursday Night Football turned out to be more exciting than the first three and half quarters suggested it would be. Baker Mayfield had a Hollywood start to his career with the L.A. Rams, stunting the momentum of a Las Vegas Raiders team that thought they could use the Rams as a springboard to a playoff push. On the IDP side of things, Nate Hobbs continued to pile up tackles at the cornerback position, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones both got to Baker Mayfield, Bobby Wagner racked up the tackles, and Troy Polamalu’s nephew Isaiah Pola-Mao continued to stack tackles despite limited snaps. Looking ahead to this weekend, we will take a look at five players fantasy managers should do their best to plug into their lineups and five others who are better left on benches despite promising upside. Let’s dig in.
Patrick Queen (LB – BAL)
Patrick Queen continues to light up the stat sheet, this time recording seven solos, two assists, and one tackle for loss. The addition of Roquan Smith has freed up Queen to focus on what he does best and has been a boon for his fantasy value. Queen should be trusted as a high-end LB2 option with the heavy bye on hand and looks like an elite LB3 option with matchup-based LB2 upside the rest of the way. Start Queen as an LB2 option for Week 14 despite the tough on-paper matchup against a Pittsburgh Steelers team limiting the position to the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game.
Cody Barton (LB – SEA)
Cody Barton was excellent in Week 13, racking up four solos, three assists, one interception, and one pass defended. He saw 89 percent of the snaps and is trending towards being an every down player again for the Seahawks defense. He has been up over 70 percent of the snaps for three straight games now and has responded with three consecutive strong fantasy outings. Barton can be treated as a DB2 option for a plus Week 14 matchup against a Carolina Panthers team allowing the 12th most fantasy points per game to the linebacker position.
Greg Rousseau (DE – BUF)
Rousseau is now the Bills top healthy pass rusher. The young edge rusher returned from injury in Week 13, recording one solo, three assists, and one pass defended. He led the team with 63 percent of the snaps and may creep up closer to 70 percent with Von Miller lost for the season. Rousseau has five sacks on the season and will be looking to get back to the sack ledger this weekend against the Jets. Treat Rousseau as a DL2 option for Week 14 despite the tough on-paper matchup against a New York Jets team allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the defensive end position.
Jalen Pitre (S – HOU)
Jalen Pitre was elite in Week 13, tallying nine solos, seven assists, one interception, and one pass defended. Pitre has been a DB1 all season and should be treated as a must-start regardless of format. Pitre is rostered in just 16 percent of Yahoo leagues, with more than 15 different safeties having higher rostered percentages. There is no reason the DB4 overall and DB6 in fantasy points per game is not one of the 10 most rostered (and thus started) at the position. With the playoffs just a week away, start proven studs over players with more name equity. Pitre should be started as an elite DB1 option for a tasty Week 14 matchup against a Dallas Cowboys team relinquishing the position to the third most fantasy points per game.
Dylan Cole (LB – TEN)
David Long is dealing with a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the first two practices of the week and will, in all likelihood, rule him out for this weekend’s contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Cole should get all the snaps he can handle in a tasty matchup against a Jaguars team allowing the seventh most fantasy points per game to the linebacker position. Cole deserves a long, hard look by managers who are dealing with a bye-week crunch. Treat him as an LB3 option for the plus matchup.
Tony Fields (LB – CLE)
Tony Fields was excellent in Week 13, racking up three solos, one assist, one interception, one pass defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown on 51 percent of the snaps. Fields looks like the favorite to get the starting nod over Deion Jones, but there may be a value-draining rotation that saps upside from both players in the wake of Sione Takitaki being lost for the season. Fields was exceptional enough in Week 13, and the coaching staff have had enough issues with Jones that Fields can run with the job, but the suggestion here is not to chase Week 13 and let Fields prove it for at least one more week before deciding where (and if) to deploy him. Keep him stashed but on benches for Week 14.
Jerome Baker (LB – MIA)
Jerome Baker had an impressive Week 13, tallying six solos, six assists, 0.5 sacks, and one tackle for loss. Baker played 88 percent of the snaps in Week 13, which is encouraging, as is the fact that he has reeled off three straight serviceable outings. However, those outside the deepest of leagues should probably look elsewhere for their Week 14 LB3. Baker has not exactly been the model of consistency this season, routinely disappointing fantasy managers with low tackle counts. Baker is worth a tap for those in 16+ team leagues or in leagues where you start four or more LB options but should be left on benches for others. He is good bye week depth, so unless you find yourself absolutely slammed by this heavy bye, there are likely higher floor options on the wire.
DeShawn Williams (DT – DEN)
DeShawn Williams was elite in Week 13, racking up two solos, two assists, two sacks, and one tackle for loss against the Baltimore Ravens. DeShawn has a steady enough role to accrue fantasy value in time, but fantasy managers should refrain from chasing his two sack performance, as the sacks were his first all season. Yes, it is true that fantasy managers are scrambling with such a heavy bye on our hands just a week before the fantasy playoffs begin, but there are much better DT2/DL3/DL4 options for those in leagues of all sizes. Keep him stashed in case he can get hot, but keep him benched for a tough on-paper matchup against a Kansas City Chiefs team limiting the defensive tackle position to the third-fewest fantasy points per game.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (DE – HOU)
Heavy byes make managers turn to unlikely options. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo shouldn’t be one of them for Week 14. Yes, he was excellent in Week 13, tallying three solos, one assist, one sack, and one tackle for loss, but Okoronkwo has recorded just one sack all season and remains in a cannibalizing timeshare with Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and Rasheem Green. The 57 percent of the snaps he saw on Sunday were a season-high, significantly higher than the 39 percent he has averaged this season. Simply put, Okoronkwo has not been productive enough and has not seen enough playing time to warrant starting consideration for Week 14, even with a hectic bye on tap. Look elsewhere for your Week 14 DL3, especially with Jonathan Greenard returning to practice.
A.J. Epenesa (DE – BUF)
I actually had Epenesa in the start em portion of this column for Week 14. Epenesa has a sack in two of his last three games and seems to be trending upwards. However, with Greg Rousseau healthy, Epenesa is third on the depth chart behind Big G and Shaq Lawson. Epeensa managed just 37 percent of the snaps in Week 13, a far cry from the 60 percent he saw back in Week 10 with Rousseau sidelined. He has been impressive this season on limited snaps but is not seeing enough of a role to trot out there in the final week of the fantasy season. Look elsewhere for your Week 14 DL3.
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