Fantasy Football: Week 14 Tiers

Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.

Here are our Week 14 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)

Quarterbacks

Tier 1

Andrew Luck

Tier 2

Matthew Stafford
Russell Wilson
Jameis Winston
Aaron Rodgers

Tier 3

Drew Brees
Kirk Cousins
Tom Brady
Cam Newton
Dak Prescott
Colin Kaepernick
Matt Ryan

Tier 4

Andy Dalton
Ben Roethlisberger

Tier 5

Marcus Mariota
Tyrod Taylor
Eli Manning
Derek Carr
Alex Smith
Philip Rivers

Tier 6

Carson Palmer

Tier 7

Carson Wentz
Joe Flacco
Brock Osweiler
Blake Bortles
Ryan Tannehill

Tier 8

Trevor Siemian
Robert Griffin III
Sam Bradford
Bryce Petty

Tier 9

Matt Barkley
Jared Goff

Week 14 poses a tricky QB week for those that are either starting the fantasy playoffs this week or fighting to make them in the last week of their fantasy regular season. Colin Kaepernick is about as high risk/reward as it gets right now. He should return to low end QB1 production this week off his legs alone but he is a real threat of his real-life passing woes getting him an in-game benching again any week now. His median expectation is still quite high and I love him in DFS tournaments this week. This does NOT mean I would start him over Big Ben, for example, since in h2h season long formats you should realize in tight spots it’s more about selecting the QB with the highest floor. Because of this I would think of Kaep in Tier 5 when it comes to making sit/start decisions. Big Ben, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan all have a mixture of bad matchups or struggle when playing on the road. They are all QB1’s still, just temper expectations a tad for them this week.

Running Backs

Tier 1

David Johnson

Tier 2

Le’Veon Bell

Tier 3

Ezekiel Elliott

Tier 4

Melvin Gordon
Spencer Ware

Tier 5

Demarco Murray
LeSean McCoy

Tier 6

Matt Forte
Jeremy Hill
Jay Ajayi
Jordan Howard
Devonta Freeman

Tier 7

Latavius Murray
Carlos Hyde
Todd Gurley
Rob Kelley
Frank Gore
Thomas Rawls

Tier 8

Jonathan Stewart
Lamar Miller
Devontae Booker
Doug Martin
LeGarrette Blount
Isaiah Crowell

Tier 9

Mark Ingram
Jerick McKinnon
Theo Riddick
Rashad Jennings

Tier 10

Terrance West
Tevin Coleman

Tier 11

Wendell Smallwood
Kenneth Dixon
Dion Lewis
Tim Hightower
Rex Burkhead
Darren Sproles

I’d like to echo from last week my point about simply avoiding the entire Eagles backfield situation if you can. If you don’t have to rely on anyone past Tier 7 you are in great shape this week. Lamar Miller and Doug Martin have the potential to jump up a tier or 2 based on their matchups but I just don’t like their health at the moment. Both teams are bulking up the workload of their backups this week making their volume less secure as a result. Blount faces the stingy Ravens rush defense making him an even more TD dependent RB this week. Of course he is always a good bet to get a TD making him a very tricky sit/start option this week. People might have to have a little blind faith in Jerick McKinnon this week as a RB/Flex play. On paper he should get the touches against a softer Jaguars run D making him a bit safer of a play then he appears looking at his game log. If Terrance West or Kenneth Dixon were to miss time, the other would likely become a Championship winning RB play the next couple weeks. The Ravens offensive line has been fantastic creating space for both to work with. Unfortunately they are the very definition of a RBBC currently.

Wide Receivers

Tier 1

Mike Evans
Antonio Brown

Tier 2

Odell Beckham Jr.
Julio Jones

Tier 3

Jordy Nelson
Dez Bryant
Amari Cooper

Tier 4

Larry Fitzgerald
T.Y. Hilton
Doug Baldwin
Michael Crabtree
Demaryius Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders
Julian Edelman
Tyrell Williams
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Brandin Cooks
Michael Thomas
Golden Tate

Tier 5

Jamison Crowder
Donte Moncrief
Rishard Matthews
Kelvin Benjamin
Kenny Britt
Brandon Marshall
Davante Adams
Jarvis Landry
DeAndre Hopkins

Tier 6

Tyreek Hill
Malcolm Mitchell
Allen Robinson
DeVante Parker
Stefon Diggs
Tyler Boyd
Marvin Jones Jr.
Brandon LaFell
Steve Smith Sr.
Mike Wallace
Willie Snead
Ted Ginn Jr.

Tier 7

Adam Thielen
DeSean Jackson
Pierre Garcon
Jordan Matthews
Sammy Watkins
Dontrelle Inman
Anquan Boldin
Taylor Gabriel
Sterling Shepard
Corey Coleman
Cameron Meredith

Tier 8

Cole Beasley
Randall Cobb
Quincy Enunwa
Michael Floyd
Mohamed Sanu
Will Fuller
Kenny Stills
Marqise Lee
Tyler Lockett

Tier 5 is the make it or break it tier this week. All of them are a mix of high risk/reward WRs that can go off any given week but hard to truly trust in Week 14. The only way to beat the Ravens stingy run/TE defense is on the perimeter. I think people will have a hard time trusting Malcom Mitchell this week but they need to trust him. With Danny Amendola out it assures us to see MM on the field most of the game. He also isn’t some UFA scrub that Belichick has molded into his system. MM managed to put up fantastic numbers on a run heavy Georgia team so the talent has always been there. With Gronk out he has also slowly become one of Brady’s favorite red zone target (5 total over the past 3 games). Having to play anyone from Tier 7 just pray that they get a long gain and/or TD but they are all hard to trust as they can get the short straw in their team’s passing attack any given week.

Tight Ends

Tier 1

Jimmy Graham
Travis Kelce

Tier 2

Greg Olsen

Tier 3

Tyler Eifert
Delanie Walker
Cameron Brate

Tier 4

Eric Ebron
C.J. Fiedorowicz
Ladarius Green
Zach Ertz
Kyle Rudolph

Tier 5

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
Vernon Davis
Coby Fleener
Vance McDonald
Antonio Gates

Tier 6

Lance Kendricks
Dennis Pitta
Dwayne Allen

Seems to be safe to trust Kelce as a near #1 ranked TE going forward each week. I will always have in the back of my head the fear of either Alex Smith or Andy Reid not game planning around their play making TE. Cameron Brate is no joke and needs to be treated as an elite TE1 this week against the Saints. The Bucs WR corps is a bit banged up behind Mike Evans. If the Saints over plan for Evans it would be Brate who benefits the most – especially in the Red Zone. Don’t fall for Dwayne Allen’s three TD performance quite yet, a lot of fantasy coaches will be pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to plug him in over a struggling TE ready to bounce back – like Eric Ebron. Ladarius Green is another I am loving the next few weeks but some people may over react and consider him a top 5 option now. Teams are now aware that when he is on the field he is not there to block. They will watch the film and give him the attention he deserves. This may help get Eli Rodgers get some more looks as a result. Green also helps solidify Big Ben’s floor as a much needed weapon he has now outside of AB/Bell.

Kickers

Tier 1

Adam Vinatieri

Tier 2

Matt Prater
Cairo Santos
Matt Bryant
Dan Bailey

Tier 3

Stephen Gostkowski
Dustin Hopkins
Josh Lambo
Phil Dawson
Graham Gano
Roberto Aguayo
Stephen Hauschka
Caleb Sturgis
Mike Nugent

Tier 4

Nick Novak
Brandon McManus
Justin Tucker

Tier 5

Sebastian Janikowski
Wil Lutz
Ryan Succop
Mason Crosby
Kai Forbath
Nick Folk
Andrew Franks
Robbie Gould
Chandler Catanzaro
Dan Carpenter
Greg Zuerlein
Chris Boswell

Tier 6

Connor Barth
Jason Myers
Cody Parkey

A rare time you will see me discussing K but I think it’s warranted with Justin Tucker this week. I base my K projections based on data and how I have it set up. When it comes to Tucker, I have his skill set as probably the best K of all-time currently. However, he can’t create his FG attempts. The Ravens offense has been churning him out field goal attempts at a nearly unsustainable pace. This week it will be even tougher in a matchup against the Patriots and in a scenario they may be playing catchup and needing to be more aggressive than just settling for chip shot FGs all game like they have been. Also worth noting that the Ravens have the 5th highest “go for 2” rate in the NFL which ever so slightly lowers Tucker’s PAT attempt projections. If you have him, start him – just know why I just don’t blindly Rank him #1 each week simply because he is the best Kicker in the league.

Defense

Tier 1

Cincinnati Bengals
Minnesota Vikings

Tier 2

Detroit Lions
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos
Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Indianapolis Colts

Tier 3

Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington Redskins
New York Jets
Kansas City Chiefs

Tier 4

Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buffalo Bills

Tier 5

Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers
Chicago Bears
Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles
New Orleans Saints

Tier 6

Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants