In our weekly feature, RookieBlitz.com will take a look at the Week 14 matchups to see what players will see an increase or a decrease in value in the first week of the fantasy football playoffs.
Joe Flacco – Ravens
Joe Flacco looked like a rookie again with his poor showing against the Packers on Monday night. The Ravens ground game hasn’t been as dominate as it was in 2008, and there is a clear lacking of playmakers at wide receiver that have stunted Flacco’s growth after a fast start. The Detroit Lions own the league’s worst pass defense (allowing 274.8 yards per game) and they will be a cure all for what ails the Ravens passing attack. With the great matchup, Flacco makes a sneaky QB1 play if you also own gunslinger Jay Cutler as your other QB.
Jamaal Charles – Chiefs
Jamaal Charles has been a touchdown machine for the past 4 weeks, scoring in 4 straight games. Charles should be considered a strong RB2 option against the Bills league worst run defense. The wintry and cold conditions at Arrowhead will likely see Matt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick throw a lot less and turn the game over to their young tailbacks. Charles is a good bet to score for a 5th consecutive week and top 100 yards rushing on the day.
Robert Meachem – Saints
Meachem has been another RookieBlitz.com favorite lately. He has scored at least one touchdown in 5 straight games and has emerged as the clear #2 receiver to Marques Colston for QB Drew Brees. The Falcons have not stopped anyone through the air all season, and that makes Meachem a great WR3 or Flex option again this week.
Michael Crabtree – 49ers
Crabtree has thrived lately in the San Francisco spread offense. He has been a good option in PPR leagues to this point, but this week should be Crabtree’s best game as a professional in his young career. The 49ers have begun throwing more frequently, and Crabtree could see a 2nd week in a row of double digit targets from QB Alex Smith (12 targets in Week 13). If you find yourself in a tough matchup, Crabtree could put in the type of performance that could help you pull off the upset in your fantasy league playoffs.
Garrett Hartley – Saints
Kickers don’t get much love here at RookieBlitz.com, but if you have a question mark at kicker going into the playoffs make sure to grab Hartley off the waiver wire. The Saints should roll up on the Falcons in Week 14 making him an excellent plug and play this week. The Saints have an easy schedule for the remainder of the year, and Hartley could be the difference each week you need to win your league.
Jay Cutler – Bears
Jay Cutler has to be looking at the game tape of Joe Flacco last Monday night against the Packers and dreading his Week 14 matchup with the stout Green Bay defense. Unless you are in a real pinch due to injuries, Cutler is not a recommended start this week. His ground game likely won’t get going, and his receivers will find it tough to get open against Charles Woodson and Nick Collins.
Marion Barber – Cowboys
Marion Barber has been a huge disappointment thus far in 2009, but certainly not one of the biggest busts at the running back position. The Cowboys have not have many redzone opportunities which have limited Barber’s greatest strength of punching in the short goal line carries. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice are keeping Barber fresh, but Barber will need to start finding the endzone before you can trust him as anything more than a flex option. Despite losing Jamal Williams for the season, the Chargers defense has been playing well. Barber should only be started in Week 14 if you have no other options.
Matt Forte – Bears
Matt Forte is easily the biggest bust at running back in 2009. Forte was a consensus top 5 pick, and even myself included thought he would build on his 2008 campaign with the new franchise QB Jay Cutler coming to town. If you are in the playoffs despite drafting Forte then I have to congratulate you on the success of the remainder of your draft. Forte will continue to disappoint you in Week 14 against the top ranked Packers defense.
Antonio Bryant – Buccaneers
Antonio Bryant faces a brutal matchup in Week 14 despite coming off a strong game against the Panthers (5 rec, 116 yards). The Jets and the best cover corner in the NFL Darrelle Revis come to town and it could get ugly for Bryant. Revis has shut down nearly every top flight WR he has faced in 2009, and Bryant will be no different. Unless you absolutely need to start him this week, I would highly advise that you find another option.