Love, Hate and the process

Updated: December 7, 2017

3:23 PM ET

Before we dive in, I thought I would give you a quick partial peek at my top 10 QB rankings for the week.

1. Alex Smith
2. Josh McCown
3. Blake Bortles
4. Russell Wilson
5. Cam Newton
6. Andy Dalton
7. Joe Flacco.
8. Jameis Winston
9. Marcus Mariota
10. Ben Roethlisberger

Week 14 fantasy football rankings

Fantasy football rankings from Matthew Berry, Field Yates, Mike Clay, Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft for Week 14 of the NFL season.

  • Best, worst Week 14 wide receiver matchups

    Which wide receivers have the easiest and toughest matchups in Week 14? Check out our weekly preview, including a downloadable PDF cheat sheet listing every matchup, to help with your fantasy football decisions.

  • Best, worst matchups at all fantasy positions

    Matchups are a driving force behind weekly lineup decisions in fantasy football. Here are the most and least favorable matchups at QB, RB, WR and TE for Week 14 in the NFL.

  • What do you think? Is it a good list? Do you like my rankings? A little surprising, right? Bortles at three? Flacco at seven? McCown over Wilson? No Tom Brady, no Carson Wentz and no Philip Rivers, who has been red-hot and gets Cleveland at home this week?

    What’s that you say? Rivers played Cleveland last week? That’s correct. He did. You caught me. Those aren’t my QB rankings for this week. Instead they are the actual QB scoring results from last week in ESPN standard leagues.

    Alex Smith was the best QB in fantasy last week, and it wasn’t close. Bortles was a better play than Wilson. Flacco was better than Roethlisberger. Further down the list, you’d have been better off playing Tom Savage over either Derek Carr or Jared Goff. Jay Cutler was a better play than Kirk Cousins or Matthew Stafford in Week 13.

    And all of them were better than Brady, whose 8.3 points had him finishing Week 13 as QB 28, behind Jacoby Brissett, Blaine Gabbert, Mitchell Trubisky and … wait for it … Geno Smith, who had 9.8 points for a QB27 finish.

    Had I submitted these exact, clearly plausible ranks last week, you’d have said I was crazy. Wait, you’d say … you have Jay Cutler — against Denver — ahead of Kirk Cousins, facing a Cowboys defense that seems to have given up? Where’s Brady? At QB28? Behind Geno Smith? Are you out of your flippin’ mind? Except, you wouldn’t have said flippin’.

    And by the way, you would have been correct with that response, even though those rankings would have proved to be 100 percent correct. Because even though it turned out exactly like that, the odds of that happening were extremely low. That would have been results over process, and over the course of a season, that approach would have hurt much more often than helped.

    At the start of every season, I write a big column called The Draft Day Manifesto. And every year, I write the same thing: At a fundamental level, fantasy football is all about minimizing risk and giving yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis. That’s it. That simple. You can’t predict the future. I definitely can’t predict the future. No one can predict the future. So all you can do is minimize risk and give yourself the best odds to succeed. …

    I bring all this up because it’s an important reminder, especially this week, when our decision-making is more crucial than ever as we enter the fantasy playoffs. The important part of research and data (mine or anyone else’s) is to understand how to use it. This column is fairly simple. Will these players play above or below general expectations. That’s it. It’s more matchup-based than anything else, and the “love” and hate” refer to their expectation for the given week in fantasy football, not the particular person.

    What is most likely to happen? Minimize your risk. Give yourself the best odds to win and hope for the best.

    Trust the process.

    This is win-or-go-home territory. And if I lost last week because I started Tom Brady over Blake Bortles and cost myself 16.8 points, I’ll live with that, because more often than not that decision is going to work out for me. Trust the process. This week and the rest of the playoffs more than ever. Because I really want you to win. Truly. Desperately.

    But not nearly as bad as you do. So make the decisions that you can live with. And with that in mind, let’s get you a win this week. Here are the players I believe are likely (but NOT guaranteed!) to either exceed or fall short of their general expectations this week.

    As a basic reminder, I try to not to put obvious, Antonio Brown-like no-brainers in here and because it is the fantasy playoffs, I have been saying for a long time “don’t get cute” and “always start your stars.” So, there are fewer names in here, as your playoff team should have fewer decisions to make than in a normal, regular-season week.

    Quarterbacks I love in Week 14

    Devin Funchess, Panthers: Despite what Marvin Jones did to him on Thanksgiving, Xavier Rhodes proved his shutdown ability last week on Julio Jones. Now he gets Funchess, who, with all due respect, is not as good as Julio Jones. The Vikings are just so money in the red zone defensively, allowing the lowest red zone completion percentage and the fourth-fewest red zone completions. Funchess has been terrific all year long, but facing Rhodes and with the expected return of Greg Olsen to steal some looks, especially in the red zone, you have to lower expectations here. Funchess is outside my top 20 this week.

    Cooper Kupp, Rams: Five straight games without a touchdown and it’s likely to be six after Sunday. The Eagles allow the third-fewest receptions and the third-fewest receiving yards and just two scores to opposing slot wide receivers this season, including none since Week 5. In fact, in their past four games, the Eagles have allowed just 10 total receptions to slot WRs. I love my little Cooper Kupp, but in fantasy you probably should look elsewhere this week.

    Rishard Matthews, Titans: Coming off an injury, we aren’t sure if he’s 100 percent. He may not be shadowed by Patrick Peterson, but he’ll see enough of him to limit his productivity, which has been up and down this season. In six of 10 games this season, he has failed to score even 11 points in PPR and you know Arizona will bring pressure (the Cards create pressure at the fifth-highest rate). Why does this matter? Matthews has just three — count ’em, three — receptions when Marcus Mariota has been under pressure this season.

    Tight ends I love in Week 14

    Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: All he needs is Winston. With Jameis back under center, Brate rose from the fantasy dead to score two times against a defense that had allowed one touchdown to a TE all season entering the game. This week he gets a Lions defense that has allowed four scores to tight ends in just the past three weeks, allowing double-digit fantasy points to a TE in all three games. A top-five tight end on a PPG basis with Winston as his QB this season, Brate is an easy top-10 play.

    Hunter Henry, Chargers: Off the big game against Cleveland (when he had nine targets), Henry should keep the good times rolling against a Skins team that has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in four of the past five games, and overall has allowed the sixth-most receptions and fifth-most fantasy points to opposing TEs this season. And my favorite stat? There have been eight players with at least 89 receiving yards against the Redskins this season … and five have been tight ends.

    Others receiving votes: Jason Witten always seems to kill the Giants (most recently he went 7-for-59 with a score against them in Week 1), and this year, every tight end kills the G-Men. They give up more than 17 PPG to opposing tight ends. I like Witten’s chance at a top-12 day in this one as well. … Denver has allowed a receiving touchdown to a tight end in five of its past six games. Overall, the Broncos are tied for the seventh-most catches, second-most receiving yards and tied for the third-most receiving TDs allowed to tight ends this season. There’s a good chance Austin Seferian-Jenkins will catch one and it’ll be overturned, but he is back on the streaming radar.

    Tight ends I hate in Week 14

    Greg Olsen, Panthers: The Vikings have not allowed a tight end TD in seven straight games. During that stretch, they are allowing 8.0 PPG to tight ends (second lowest) and have allowed a TE to total more than 5.1 points just three times. We have yet to see Olsen healthy, and there’s always a chance he reinjures himself. He is a risky play in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.

    Vernon Davis, Redskins: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … yeah. He’s got just two catches on four targets for 15 yards in the past two games, and now he faces a Chargers defense that has held opposing TEs to 7.5 or fewer points six times this season (tied for the second-most such games this season). Davis is a touchdown-dependent TE2.

    Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, trusts the process. He is the creator of, the founder of the Fantasy Life app and a paid spokesperson for DRAFT.

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