Lamar Jackson (QB, Ravens)
Jackson has led the Ravens to three straight victories as the replacement for injured QB Joe Flacco. He’s done this primarily with his feet, as he’s rushed for a total of 263 yards with a pair of touchdowns in those three starts. Jackson has another great matchup in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has allowed an average of 21 fantasy points to opposing QBs. The Chiefs are especially vulnerable to the running game, allowing 5.1 yards per carry. As long as the Baltimore defense keeps KC from getting out to a big lead, Jackson should gash the Chiefs’ defense for plenty of yards.
Adrian Peterson (RB, Redskins)
Adrian Peterson remains a High risk for injury, but his HPF has risen into Above Average territory as he’s gotten healthier in recent weeks. The Giants’ rush defense has struggled all season but has really fallen apart since the fire sale that saw them move Damon Harris and other defenders in trades. Overall, the Giants have allowed an average of 29.3 fantasy points per game and a total of 16 touchdowns to opposing running backs. This should be a solid bounce back game for Peterson, who has been somewhat inconsistent this season.
Courtland Sutton (WR, Broncos)
The season-ending injury to Emmanuel Sanders elevates Sutton to WR1 status with the Denver Broncos. Sutton has been flashing WR1 talent at times, although his 50% catch rate over the last four games is somewhat concerning. Still, Denver has a good matchup this week against a 49ers pass defense that allowed Russell Wilson to complete four touchdown passes in just 11 overall pass attempts last week.
Mitchell Trubisky (QB, Bears)
Trubisky is expected to play in Week 14 after missing two games with a shoulder injury. He remains an Elevated risk for injury with a Below Average Health Performance Factor (HPF) since he is still short of his December 11 optimal return to health date. The Rams pose a somewhat tough matchup for Trubisky, as the return of cornerback Aqib Talib bolstered a secondary that has struggled for much of the season. Trubisky may not be worth starting this week, but look for TE Trey Burton to have a good day against a linebacker corps that has struggled to cover the middle of the field.
Joe Flacco (QB, Ravens)
Flacco returned to limited practice this week, but he is not expected to play in Week 14. However, even if he does play it will likely be in a shared role with Lamar Jackson. The Ravens are concerned that Flacco could further injure his hip and could decide to shut him down. With Jackson leading the team to four straight wins it would seem counterintuitive to put Flacco back under center. For that reason, we believe Flacco will not play much, if at all.
Marlon Mack (RB, Colts)
Mack returned from the concussion protocol last week to put up just 27 yards on eight carries against Jacksonville. This week the Colts face a Texans rush defense against which opposing running backs have averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. In fact, only four running backs have amassed more than 60 rushing yards in any game and only two teams have allowed fewer overall rushing yards to running backs this season. While Mack should be healthy for this start, it’s not a good idea to start him against the buzz saw that is the Houston Texans.
Joe Mixon (RB, Bengals)
Mixon remains a High risk for injury with a Below Average HPF since he is well short of his December 18 optimal health date. The Chargers have developed a bend-don’t-break rush offense that allows an average of 4.9 yards per carry but never allows a big play. For the season, the Chargers have only allowed one RB to exceed 100 rushing yards and only two others to exceed 80 rushing yards. Overall, they’ve allowed just 10 touchdowns to running backs (8 rushing, 2 receiving). With the Bengals’ passing game just about broken now that A.J. Green is gone for the season, look for the Chargers to stack the box and dare Jeff Driskel to beat them through the air, leaving Mixon with nowhere to run.
*By Tim McCullough