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Week 14 Sleepers

Robert Meachem

Every Wednesday, I will talk about potential fantasy football sleepers for each matchup taking place. I will go game-by-game and pick out one or two players who can most likely be found in your league’s free agent pool and explain why they can be of use to you that week.

Week 14 is the start of playoff time in most leagues. In playoff time, every point counts, so finding those bargain basement players is essential if you want to achieve victory.

Week 14 Sleepers

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland

Brady Quinn (QB), Cleveland Browns

The Steelers defense is terrible without Troy Polamalu. In six games without Polamalu, the Steelers are 2-5, allowing 260 pass yds per game to QB’s with 13 passing TD. Recently, they let Oakland’s Bruce Gradkowski throw for 308 yds and 3 TD.

Brady Quinn has a shot to do some damage against a weak secondary and he has been on a roll himself lately, averaging 225 yds with 7 TD and no interceptions in his last three games.

Mike Wallace (WR), Pittsburgh Steelers

Hines Ward is in danger of not playing with a slight hamstring tear. With the short week, I doubt Ward will be ready to play. Even if he does, he won’t be a factor.

Wallace has cooled off considerably in recent week, but with Ward’s injury, the rookie can definitely step it up, especially against the Browns defense.

New Orleans @ Atlanta

Robert Meachem (WR), New Orleans Saints

The Falcons own the fourth worst pass defense in all of football and Meachem has scored a TD in five straight games (six total). Meachem had 10 targets and eight catches in his last game (both season highs), so clearly Drew Brees is warming up to the guy.

Detroit @ Baltimore

Daunte Culpepper (QB), Detroit Lions

All signs are pointing to rookie Matthew Stafford not playing due to a shoulder injury. Then again, they say that every week and yet they still throw him out there to get torn apart. If he doesn’t play, Culpepper would start.

The matchup against a tough Baltimore defense is not favorable, but this would be the first time all season that both Culpepper and WR Calvin Johnson would start side-by-side. A few long bombs from a strong-armed Culpepper to an elite receiver may just bring back memories of the Culpepper-Moss connection in Minnesota.

Green Bay @ Chicago

Devin Hester (WR), Chicago Bears

Hester hasn’t scored since Week 7 and only has six catches over his last three games. However, I like Hester, even against the Packers. Jay Cutler is a better QB at home where the Bears are 4-2 and Cutler has thrown 9 TD and 3 INT.

During their last meeting all the way back in Week 1, Hester turned in four catches for 90 yds and a score.

Seattle @ Houston

Kevin Walter (WR), Houston Texans

This is my last recommendation for Walter. Given that RB Steve Slaton was placed on the IR this week, I think Houston will just air it out this Sunday against Seattle’s poor secondary (8th worst in league).

All Houston receivers are a good play since the other Houston backs (Ryan Moats & Chris Brown) are combining for 3.7 ypc this season.

Denver @ Indianapolis

Correll Buckhalter (RB), Denver Broncos

Over the past two games, Buckhalter has eaten into rookie Knowshon Moreno’s carries. This has resulted in 164 rush yds on 32 carries.

Denver will need all the help they can get against the undefeated Colts who have allowed an average of 132 rush yds over their last two games.

Miami @ Jacksonville

Chad Henne (QB), Miami Dolphins

Henne has come off a great game against New England where he threw for a career-high 335 yds and 2 TD.

The Jaguars may be in the bottom-10 in pass defense, but they haven’t let a running back rush for 100 yds in a game since Week 8. Henne’s new appreciation for throwing the ball will come in handy against a terrible secondary.

Davone Bess (WR), Miami Dolphins

He is Henne’s favorite receiver and had an eye-popping 14 targets last Sunday. Miami should throw the ball around all day and Bess will be the main focus of the passing game.

Buffalo @ Kansas City

Buffalo Bills Defense/Special Teams

They had five sacks last week against the Jets and even took QB Mark Sanchez out of the game.

Now they face the Chiefs, who have allowed 40 sacks this season and QB Matt Cassel has thrown three interceptions in his last two games. Cassel is on thin ice with head coach Todd Haley, who pulled him in the second half last week against the Broncos.

New York (Jets) @ Tampa Bay

Shonn Greene (RB), New York Jets

The Buccaneers own the second worst rush defense in football and have allowed 13 rushing TD this season. The Jets defense is among the best in the league and they should shut down Josh Freeman and company.

Shonn Greene has 10+ carries in each of his last two games. With Mark Sanchez sitting this one out, don’t expect Kellen Clemens to be a gunslinger. A heavy dose of running will be New York’s game plan.

Cincinnati @ Minnesota

Ryan Longwell (K), Minnesota Vikings

In a game of two tough defenses, I think that this may be a game of field goals. You may be hesitant to rush out and pick up kickers, but hey, you need all the points you can get in the playoffs.

Both the Bengals and Vikings allow less than 90 rush yds per game, so running won’t be on display. Minnesota’s pass defense is the more vulnerable of the two teams, but Carson Palmer hasn’t been airing it out much this season (212 yds per game).

Favre on the other hand showed that he was vulnerable last Sunday against Arizona by throwing two interceptions.

Both teams will move the ball, but touchdowns won’t be as plentiful this week in what will be a defensive game.

Shayne Graham (K), Cincinnati Bengals

See Ryan Longwell.

Carolina @ New England

Sammy Morris (RB), New England Patriots

Back from a knee injury, Morris has taken his share of carries in New England’s backfield.

The running game should be on display against the Panthers, who have given up 139+ rush yds in four straight games.

Washington @ Oakland

Devin Thomas (WR), Washington Redskins

Thomas had a breakout game last Sunday with seven catches for 100 yds and 2 TD against New Orleans.

Oakland is vulnerable to the run, but Washington’s running game isn’t setting the world on fire. CB Nnamdi Asomugha will probably be assigned to Santana Moss, leaving Thomas open for another productive game. Plus, Oakland has given up 269 or more pass yds in two straight games.

St. Louis @ Tennessee

Tennessee Titans Defense/Special Teams

You have to like any defense against the Rams offense. It’s just common sense.

Just to give you more incentive, I’ll just tell you that Rams QB Kyle Boller has been sacked seven times and has thrown three interceptions in his last two games. The Rams themselves are averaging only 8.8 points on the road this season.

San Diego @ Dallas

Felix Jones (RB), Dallas Cowboys

I endorse Jones every week, and the tradition will continue in Week 14.

San Diego has allowed 114+ rush yds in three straight games, and frankly, their defense hasn’t exactly been challenged by potent rushing attacks in recent weeks (Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Oakland). The Chargers actually allow 4.4 ypc, so expect Dallas and their 8th ranked rushing game to do some damage.

Philadelphia @ New York (Giants)

Kevin Boss (TE), New York Giants

Philadelphia will most likely dominate this game, so Eli Manning will be throwing it plenty of times.

In their last meeting, Boss came away with 70 yds and a score, so I don’t see why he can’t find success against the same defense again.

Arizona @ San Francisco

Alex Smith (QB), San Francisco 49ers

Still minimally owned in leagues, Smith is in line for a big game this week against the Cardinals.

Smith is averaging 225 pass yds per game this season and just came off his best game of the season last week against Seattle with 310 yds and 2 TD. Arizona’s pass defense is among the worst in football and they are giving up 293 pass yds per game over the past five weeks.

We know the damage that Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis can do, so this may be your last chance to buy into Smith. Not to mention, during the fantasy playoffs, Smith faces Detroit and St. Louis in Weeks 16 & 17.

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