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Week 14 Fantasy Football: Last-Minute Lineup Advice

Dave Major offers up some last-minute advice to help owners prepare for the fantasy playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington
Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington

Nov 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) fends off a tackle from Indianapolis Colts strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) and cornerback Cassius Vaughn (32) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ellington looked good in practice on Friday, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. With Ellington on the shelf last week, starting back Rashard Mendenhall received his greatest workload of the season last week. Mendenhall rushed 18 times for 76 yards in week 13. Carson Palmer has been struggling with elbow issues all week, but is expected to play through the pain Sunday.

C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both expected to play Week 14 in Tampa Bay. Last week, Jackson used 15 touches to produce 78 total yards and two touchdowns. Spiller managed 157 total yards and a touchdown from his 17 touches. The Buccaneers are 12th against the run, and have allowed the seventh-fewest rushing touchdowns this season (six).

Speaking of over-talented backfields without fantasy relevance, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been the poster boys since 2010. The Buffalo Bills rushing attack may be making a respectable play to carry on this torch, but the Panthers backs are still going nowhere fast. Williams just missed Week 13’s win over Tampa Bay, giving Stewart a rare full reign over the backfield. Since Stewart joined the team in 2008, the two have played 64 games together. During this era, Williams has played 14 matches without his counterpart, and Stewart has enjoyed 12 such opportunities. While playing together, Williams averages 17.3 carries for 84.7 yards and 0.7 scores, while Stewart rushes 9.5 times for 42.6 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game. With the backfield to himself, Williams has actually done worse, toting the ball 15.2 times for 69.4 yards and 0.2 touchdowns per game. When Stewart has played without Williams, his numbers have jumped to a mean of 17.7 carries for 92.7 yards and 0.3 scores. The two are back together again for Week 14’s divisional showdown in New Orleans. Bench them both if you have anyone decent.

Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden will continue Cleveland’s revolving-door quarterback carousel this Sunday in Foxboro. This week will be Campbell’s fifth start of the year, which ties Weeden’s mark so far. Brian Hoyer started three games for the team before a knee injury sent him to season-ending injured reserve. Weeden suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the resurgent Jaguars. On the year, Weeden has completed 52.8 percent of his passes with an even ratio of nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. Campbell has connected on 56.9 percent of his throws, while racking up six touchdowns and three picks. Weeden has averaged 216.4 yards per game, compared with Campbell’s 186.6. In games they have started, Weeden is 0-5, and Campbell is 1-3. On a bright note, Josh Gordon has become a must-start in this league from now on.

Lance Dunbar hyperextended his knee on Thanksgiving Day, and later was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Fellow backups Joseph Randle and Philip Tanner have not touched the ball since week nine and eight, respectively. Starter DeMarco Murray has averaged 18.7 touches over the last three games. That number stands likely to increase with this recent development. Expect more from Randle than Tanner, but don’t get overzealous with hope while Murray is still suiting up. The Cowboys face the 32nd, 25th, 14th, and 19th ranked rush defenses down the final stretch.

Julius Thomas is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. Denver’s breakout player missed the last two weeks with a knee injury. Even without those two games, Thomas ranks third in the NFL in receiving touchdowns (10), behind only Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham (12 each). For the season, the 6-foot-5 tight end has 45 receptions for 590 yards. Thomas has been Peyton Manning’s third choice in the red zone, with 14 such targets on the season.

Reggie Bush missed two days of practice this week, and is questionable for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. The Eagles’ 19th ranked rush defense will need to stop the Bush push if they hope to keep the playoffs on the radar. The eighth year back is on pace for 1,164.5 yards on the ground with 61.4 catches for another 610.9 yards and 6.8 total touchdowns. Keep an eye on Bush’s status, and move backup Joique Bell’s value up or down appropriately. Bell is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this year. Against Green Bay on Thanksgiving, the backup touched the ball 22 times for 128 total yards and a touchdown.

Aaron Rodgers was officially declared out for this week’s game against Atlanta. That means a third start for Matt Flynn, who has completed 58.9 percent of his passes to date. He has thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions, while averaging 194.7 yards in his three games of significant action. Having Rodgers on the sideline is bad news for all remaining Packers players, including Eddie Lacy, who ran 10 times for 16 yards last week. James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin should also be avoided wherever possible. During the team’s current winless 0-4-1 streak, they have exceeded 20 points just once, en route to a 26-26 stalemate against Minnesota’s 31st ranked defense. Should the team fall to 5-7-1 with a loss to the Falcons this week, there is little reason to expect Rodgers to return for Green Bay’s lost season.

Donald Brown will make his second consecutive start over Trent Richardson this week. The Colts have opted to stick with the hot hand for Sunday’s contest in Cincinnati. Brown has averaged 5.3 yards per attempt this year, compared with Richardson’s 3.0. Brown ran 14 times for 54 yards and a touchdown last week against the Titans.

Lamar Miller was limited in practice this week, but does not appear on Miami’s injury report for Week 14. The injury to Daniel Thomas gave Miller sole possession of the backfield last week. The starter used 23 touches to earn 85 total yards. The Dolphins get Pittsburgh’s 18th ranked rush defense on Sunday. The Steelers have allowed the fifth most rushing scores this season.

Christian Ponder (concussion) has been declared out for Minnesota’s game in Baltimore. Matt Cassel will make his third start of the year. He has completed 63.6 percent of his passes this season, while tossing five scores and four picks. Josh Freeman will be waiting in the wings. And, although his one start for the Vikings was abysmal, one would think the team may like to see more of him before entering a crucial offseason of transition. Adrian Peterson has fared much better with Ponder at the helm than without. In games that Ponder has started, Peterson has gotten an average of 26.3 touches for 121.6 total yards and a touchdown. Without Ponder on the field, the 2012 Most Valuable Player has only received 17 touches for 93 total yards and 0.7 scores per contest.

Darren McFadden will not play Sunday against the Jets, and the recent starter Rashad Jennings is listed as questionable. Jennings sustained a concussion in Dallas on Thanksgiving, and has yet to clear all the tests necessary for a return. Keep a close eye on this, approaching kickoff against the league’s top rated rush defense. Denarius Moore was declared out, opening more targets for Rod Streater. Things are not looking good for the silver and bleak.

Le’Veon Bell has passed all concussion tests, and is probable to start against Miami Sunday. The Dolphins are 24th against the run, and have allowed the ninth most rushing scores this season. Pittsburgh’s second round pick from April’s NFL Draft has yet to break 100 rushing yards this year. Bell is involved in the passing game, however, having made 33 receptions for 319 yards this year. The rookie is on pace for 1,223.4 total yards and 7.2 touchdowns.

Percy Harvin made his storied return to the field in Week 11 against his former Minnesota Vikings. But he only recorded one catch for 17 yards before suffering yet another injury. Harvin’s hip will prevent him from playing again this week.’s Ian Rapoport believes that Seattle may hold him out until the playoffs. It will be another interesting stat line for the oft-injured receiver, should his regular season ends with that lone reception.

Delanie Walker sustained a concussion last week in Indianapolis. Monitor his status approaching Sunday’s kickoff in Denver, as the tight end has yet to pass his final concussion tests. Among all NFL tight ends, Walker ranks tenth in receptions (45) and seventh in scoring (five touchdowns). The Broncos have the fourth worst pass defense in the league.

Jordan Reed missed Wednesday’s practice, and was limited on Thursday and Friday. He remains among the litany of players yet to clear all concussion tests. Reed said he feels a lot better and will play. But he said the same thing last week before being shut down on game day by Shanahan. The 6-foot-3 rookie tight end has caught 45 passes for 499 yards and three scores. Reed brings a lot of upside, having caught 27 passes for 323 yards during the four games preceding his Week 11 injury. Take a look at the final active list an hour before kickoff.

Stats and data courtesy of and

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