BOSTON (CBS) – 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Lockhart sits down with CBSBostonSports.com’s Andrew Celani for a comprehensive fantasy football chat heading into Week 14 of the season.
Week 14 kicks off Thursday night when the Cowboys travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in prime time.
The Bears are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, and while no team likes to get embarrassed on national television Chicago really has nothing to play for.
Good news for the Cowboys right? Not necessarily.
If the playoffs started today the Cowboys would be OUT, and with NFC East-leading Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington still on the schedule, tonight is basically a must-win for the Boys.
Both teams played on Thanksgiving, so Sports Hub fantasy football expert Mike Lockhart is not expecting one of those sloppy Thursday nighters we’ve come to know and love.
“Normally this game is on a short week, but both teams actually have full rest. Fantasy-wise, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall should be decent. Alshon Jeffery is a little banged up so he has me worried,” said Lockhart. “The Cowboys just don’t seem like the same team. DeMarco Murray is starting to slow down a little bit, which we all saw coming I think. Tony Romo last week was awful.”
This led into a discussion fantasy football playoff philosophies. At this point in the season you’re up against your league’s best, and they’re in the money for a reason. There’s a very small margin for error.
Lockhart advises not to “overthink it.”
Instead, go with your studs — the guys that got you there and players with proven track records.
“It’s really about getting the stars going. I would play all your stars. This is playoff week. If you have Tony Romo as your quarterback, and he’s your best option, then you gotta play him. For me, the big question mark tonight is Brandon Marshall. I’m worried about him. I have him on my roster, but I’m starting him. He hasn’t been my best receiver this season, but if I have guys with comparable numbers and similar matchups I’m gonna go with the guy who’s been getting it done for years. I’m going with my best guys.”
The Browns made headlines on Wednesday by their decision to stick with quarterback Brian Hoyer instead of first round draft pick Johnny Manziel.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon is back from suspension and seems ready to explode. Gordon has had double-digit targets since returning, and appears poised for a big game on Sunday when Cleveland plays host to Indianapolis.
“If you look at the cast of quarterback characters Gordon had last year, Hoyer being one of them, it didn’t matter who was throwing him the ball. He’s still going to be productive. I think this is going to be a good game for him. He’s a must-start.”
Early this week running back Isaiah Crowell looked like a great option to start, but now he’s dealing with a hip injury and his effectiveness will be tested by the Colts. Cleveland has also struggled to run the ball with center Alex Mack out for the season.
“I was looking at that game saying you have to start Crowell, but now his injury is an issue. Terrance West hasn’t been playing very well lately, so that’s also an issue. If Crowell doesn’t play, maybe West is a flex option for you but I’m not sold on him.”
At this time of the year your waiver wire is probably pretty bare bones, and if you have to rely heavily on players like Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West then your team probably isn’t good enough to win it all anyways.
But Lockhart did provide some running backs that could help you in a pinch this weekend.
“Maybe a guy like Theo Riddick you could pick up in a PPR league, especially if Reggie Bush doesn’t play. He’s a guy that can catch it out of the backfield and maybe he can get it in the end zone. Maybe a guy like LeGarrette Blount found his way onto your waiver wire this week, he’s a guy I would definitely start over someone like Isaiah Crowell.”
Another game fans are looking forward to on Sunday is the prime time contest between the Chargers and the Patriots in San Diego.
Lockhart previously said to start your studs, but a player he’d shy away from this week is Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen.
“There’s definitely options that I would use over Keenan Allen this week. I would shy away from him. The guy who I think may end up having a decent game is Eddie Royal. Look at somebody like [Packers WR] Davante Adams last week — he’s kind of the third link on the chain at that point. Royal could have a solid week. Malcolm Floyd could end up with 40 yards so he could really screw you.”
With Tom Brady and Philip Rivers under center, it’s a game that will feature two top tier quarterback trying to best position their team for the playoffs. But the marquee names doesn’t necessarily equal a shootout either.
“I’m actually projecting a lower scoring game. Not a huge fantasy game from anybody. You have to get Rob Gronkowski out there, but the Chargers are actually a tough matchup for tight ends. The only tight end to really have success against San Diego this year was Charles Clay from Miami, when San Diego went down there and got blown out. I’m a little worried about a guy like Tom Brady this week fantasy-wise, but you have to get him out there.”
Can Fitzpatrick recreate the same Fitz-magic (6 touchdowns 358 yards last week vs. Tennessee) this Sunday in Jacksonville?
“I really don’t like Fitzpatrick this week. A lot of quarterbacks have gone down to Jacksonville and not played that well. The Jags are pretty tough on quarterbacks. It’s always a question whether Arian Foster will play, but if he does I think the Texans will get the running game going. I like Alfred Blue a lot too. WR DeAndre Hopkins is another solid option this week, but I’m not that high on Fitzpatrick. This Jaguars team is young and up-and-coming and could give him problems.”
Because the margin for error is so small in the fantasy football playoffs, your matchup could ultimately be decided by a defense — or God forbid even a kicker.
Lockhart laid out some defenses he really likes this week, some of which may even be ready to grab on your waiver wire.
For Lockhart’s full breakdown and positional rankings, visit fantasybuzz.net and listen below for the full discussion!
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