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Lust: Fall Finals or Fantasy Football? Have Both!

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As we prepare for the arrival of finals week, we begin to do something we’ve never done before. We begin to participate in an ancient, alien activity which we never fully realized existed. It has many names, ranging from organization, to prioritization, to management.
Finals week is when we, as students, realize that we’ve had the past three months of our lives to prepare, but haven’t paid any attention until now. Procrastination is a disease which affects millions of lives every day, and seems to be most rampant among students.
I wish you luck in your academic endeavors — your late night studying, your last minute cramming, and your right-before-class essay printings. But in all of the chaos, in all of the entropy and disorganization that stems from our procrastination, I ask you one thing: do not forget about the players. Because while you’re staying up until ungodly hours at your school library, your roster begins to rot.
Remember the good times you had. Remember the bad times you had. Make sure that among the tests and essays, you still remember those players that have served you well over the past 14 weeks of your fantasy football life. Don’t let your roster go to waste. Keep up with it.
Have a 15 minute study break? Drop that receiver you’ve been meaning to get rid of. Just went to the bathroom? Take a minute and find a new running back to take up your flex position. Don’t want to study anymore? Spend the rest of your time on what we all know is really important during finals week. Your team. Never be happy with your team.
Whether it’s week one, week eight, or week 14. Make changes, make trades, and create your perfect team. Because it’s coming down to the final weeks of your fantasy season, and this could be the week where you break free of the pack and find that first place spot.
With that being said, I wish all of you students out there the best of luck on your finals. And if you must procrastinate, let your team be your first second priority!
QB Picks for Week 14:
1. Definite Start: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (@Cleveland Browns): There’s no denying it. Since Luck joined the NFL in 2012, he has exploded in just about every aspect of his game. During the first part of his career, many skeptics ruled him out of any contention for an acceptable quarterback, noting his high interception count. But this season, he has done everything to prove them wrong. In 2014, he has achieved a 103 quarterback rating, has thrown 4,011 yards, and has tossed 34 touchdowns. This weekend he’s going up against a fairly ample Browns defense that has only allowed an average of 12.5 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but he’s also fighting for a playoff spot. If the Colts win and the Texans lose in Jacksonville, it could mean that Andrew Luck and the Colts will secure the winning spot in the AFC South. Expect Luck to bring his A game.
2. Sleeper Start: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. Baltimore Ravens): The Ravens secondary has been a bit disappointing this year, as they sit at the number five spot for most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks so far this year. Over the past two weeks only, they’ve allowed a total of 803 passing yards and six touchdowns, as well as a total of 53 fantasy points. Although those were given to veteran quarterbacks Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, Tannehill has proved himself more than worthy of his starting spot with the Dolphins, who have been rolling through the league, and are currently tied for second place in the AFC East with an ample Buffalo Bills team. With the stats that the Ravens have allowed over the past few weeks, Tannehill should be a good solid start this week.
3. Free Agent Pickup: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans (@Jacksonville Jaguars): I’m a little skeptical about jumping on this most likely scarcely populated bandwagon, but I just can’t help feeling a little bit of hope for good ole Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last week against the Titans, Fitzpatrick accumulated 39 fantasy points in his first game back in the starting role. 358 passing yards and six touchdowns—not statistics that are easily overlooked. Not to mention, even after that game the Titans still only rank at number 13 in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks this year, and number 18 in passing yards allowed. Those aren’t terrible numbers, and Fitzpatrick still managed to connect with Deandre Hopkins for an obscene amount of points. This week against the less than stellar Jaguars, Fitzpatrick will either embarrass himself, or explode again (and I’m leaning towards the latter).
4. Beware of Starting: Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Seattle Seahawks): I feel like a lot of people have been putting a lot of faith into Mark Sanchez, simply because he hasn’t thrown under 200 yards since he came into the game in week nine against the Texans. But if there was ever a week where throwing for under 200 yards is a very real possibility for him, it’s this week. Since all the way back in week eight against the Panthers, the Seahawks have kept opposing quarterbacks to under 12 points per game. Since the beginning of the season, they have only allowed two games of 20 points or over, and only one game of over 300 passing yards. The Seattle secondary is statistically the best in the league, and I wouldn’t expect them to let up against even the swift offense of the Eagles.
RB Picks for Week 14:
1. Definite Start: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. Carolina Panthers):
This should be a no brainer. Assuming his current “questionable” status is removed by Sunday, Ingram is poised for another huge game against a Panthers defense which he posted 23 points from 100 yards and two touchdowns against in week nine. Even with Pierre Thomas back in the mix, Ingram still carries the load for the running game, and showed it last week when he pounded the Steelers defense for 122 yards on 23 carries. This week should be a Brees for Ingram (don’t get too confused on that one).
2. Sleeper Start: Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (@Tennessee Titans): The Titans run defense is almost embarrassing. They’ve allowed the most rushing yards per game to opposing backs in the NFL (141.5), and the second most fantasy points (21.8). According to ESPN, Jennings missed practice on Wednesday of this week, and his return date is unknown. So take this with a grain of salt. Keep a very close eye on the status of his injury, and if it looks like he’s going in, then he’s an easy start against such an open run defense. If he’s not, check out my next pick.
3. Free Agent Pickup: Andre Williams, New York Giants (@Tennessee Titans): This is if, and only if Jennings doesn’t play this week. So again, keep your eyes out for it. If Jennings does sit out this week, Williams is an excellent choice for all the same reasons you would pick Jennings, mostly the inability of the Titans run defense to stop anyone. So again, keep an eye on Jennings, because both of these guys are too hard to pass up against the Titans.
4. Beware of Starting: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (@Arizona Cardinals): The Cardinals have been a surprise team this year, and their run defense is definitely a significant facet in their success. As of week 14, they’ve only allowed 11.3 points per game to opposing running backs, only 89.2 yards per game to opposing running backs, and have kept those opposing backs to a measly 3.7 yards per rush attempt. Charles does rank sixth in most average fantasy points per game, but with this tough defense, it could definitely a better choice to explore your other options on your bench.
WR Picks for Week 14:
1. Definite Start: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (@Jacksonville Jaguars):
Another bandwagon that’s easy to be skeptical of, the Hopkins Express will most likely keep chugging through this week. The Jaguars have allowed an average of 22.3 points per game to opposing receivers, and an average of 253 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. Hopkins connected with Fitzpatrick against the semi-solid Titans defense last week for two touchdown and 238 yards. Those are monster numbers, and I’d expect the connection to continue straight through the flimsy Jaguars secondary.
2. Sleeper Start: Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (vs. Carolina Panthers): The Panthers have allowed an ample 23.4 points to opposing receivers so far this year. Stills, while remaining a sleeper, exploded onto the scene last week against the Steelers, accounting for 162 of the team’s total receiving yards and accumulating 22.2 fantasy points. This week, the Saints are facing the Panthers at home, which is always a pro for the Saints. Stills caught for 72 yards on five receptions against the Panthers in week nine, but this week the Saints are fighting for their spot at the top of the NFC South.
3. Free Agent Pickup: Jarvis Landry or Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. Baltimore Ravens): Landry and Wallace make a great pair of receivers. Wallace averages 9.0 points per game, Landry average 8.6. Wallace has 108 total fantasy points. Landry has 102. And they’re both going up against a Ravens secondary which has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing receiver since week eight. Go for either one, honestly. Wallace is currently listed as questionable, so Landry wins this pick if Wallace is out. But either choice would be a solid one. In reality, Wallace would be acting as more of a sleeper start, as he is owned in 88% of leagues on ESPN, and Landry is owned on 29% of leagues. I just couldn’t figure out how to successfully leave one of them out of this week’s picks.
4. Beware of Starting: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (@Cleveland Browns): Over the past few weeks, Hilton has been considered an easy start. And to be honest, he mostly likely still is this week. But there are two words that make all the difference this week: Joe Haden. Haden has had one interception in each of his last three games, and 14 defended passes this season. With Hilton being the top receiver on the Colts, I would expect Haden to put up quite the barrier between Luck and Hilton. Be careful starting him this week, as he could very well be shut down by whom many are considering the NFL’s hottest cornerback.
TE Picks for Week 14:
1. Definite Start: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. Dallas Cowboys):
Even with the inconsistency of Cutler, Bennett remains a top target in the Bears’ offense. He finished last week’s game against the Lions with 109 yards on 8 receptions, and I wouldn’t expect him to do anything less against Cowboys defense that has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
2. Sleeper Start: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (@Chicago Bears): I know I picked Witten last week against a porous Eagles secondary, and he didn’t even muster up one point. That was a disappointment, which is exactly why I have him as a sleeper start. A number of people might have lost faith immediately following his subpar outing (according to ESPN, he’s only started in 63% of leagues). But I still have faith. I bring you Witten this week with the same hopes; that he will be able to post solid numbers against a Bears secondary that has allowed 270 passing yards per game, as well as an average of 10.2 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. The Witten-Romo connection should be hot enough this week to start Witten and expect something good.
3. Free Agent Pickup: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns (vs. Indianapolis Colts): This selection is solely based on the possibility of Cameron returning from the concussion that he suffered in week eight against the Raiders. The Colts have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year, so if Cameron is able to suit up against the Colts, he’ll be a solid choice. He’s most likely in your league’s free agency due to his injury, so keep an eye on his status, and if you don’t have a solid choice for TE, make a jump for him as soon as he’s listed as probable.
4. Beware of Starting: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (@New Orleans Saints): Olsen has been a top target of Cam Newton, as he has scored a total of 22 fantasy points in his last four games. Although, it must be taken into account that in week nine against the Saints, he only managed 30 yards on three receptions, which is only three fantasy points. The Saints secondary has kept opposing tight ends at the line this season, allowing only 4.3 points per game to them, which is the second least in the NFL. Olsen will have a tough struggle in New Orleans this week.


Taylor LustOle Miss student Taylor Lust is a Fantasy Football guru and can be reached at tdlust@go.olemiss.edu.

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