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Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 14

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.

PLAYERS TO START

Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State (vs. MTSU)

Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee will battle for the Sun Belt title, and Aplin will hope to lead the way for the Red Wolves at home. He has been good all season, and he's thrown for at least 328 yards in his last three games while tallying eight touchdowns passing and two touchdowns rushing in those contests. Middle Tennessee may be one of the better teams in the Sun Belt, but it's still the Sun Belt, so there's not much to fear from its defense. Aplin should end the regular season on a high note.

Nick Florence, QB, Baylor, (vs. Oklahoma State)

It's been a nice couple weeks for Baylor. The Bears upset Kansas State, and then they eked past Texas Tech in overtime to become bowl eligible. The Bears win with their high-powered offense, and this game against Oklahoma State will likely be a shootout. Plus, not only has Florence thrown for 3,825 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season, he's rushed for eight more scores, including one in four consecutive weeks. Even if Baylor loses this game, Florence's numbers should still be helpful for any fantasy team.

Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford (vs. UCLA)

This is the rare opportunity to have a pretty good sense of how a player might do against his opponent. Just last week, Stanford faced UCLA, and in that game Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two scores on 20 carries. That game was on the road; now the Cardinal are at home with the chance to win the Pac-12. Maybe Taylor's numbers won't be quite so impressive, but it seems unlikely the Bruins will turn their run defense around so quickly.

Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh (at South Florida)

Last week, Graham rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries and caught five passes for 50 yards against Rutgers. He seems to have left his serious injury from last season completely in the rearview mirror, though he hasn't quite eclipsed 1,000 yards yet and has only nine rushing touchdowns. However, he's a part of the passing game as well, adding 340 yards and two scores receiving, and this is a nice matchup with lowly South Florida. Playing on the road isn't really a concern. All it means is that Pittsburgh gets to enjoy some nice weather to start December.

Harry Peoples, WR, Louisiana-Lafayette (at Florida Atlantic)

Peoples started slowly, and on the season he only has 60 catches for 772 yards and five scores, but he's been much better recently. After gaining more than 100 total yards on the road against Florida, he had 13 catches for 144 yards against Western Kentucky, and then last week he caught five passes for 166 yards and a score against South Alabama. Florida Atlantic is not a good team, and Peoples should take advantage.

Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa (vs. UCF)

Tulsa and Central Florida square off for the Conference USA title in what should be a high scoring game. Garrett is the top receiver in Tulsa's high-powered passing offense, catching 60 passes for 778 yards and nine touchdowns. Two weeks ago, when Tulsa beat UCF, Garrett caught seven passes for 130 yards and a whopping three scores. He's not likely to do that again, but he could still have a big game.

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State (vs. Georgia Tech on neutral field)

Manuel is coming off a bad game against Florida, as he threw for only 182 yards with three interceptions, and he even had to leave the game briefly due to injury. However, he did have three touchdowns as well, two rushing, and, again, that was against Florida, which has perhaps the best defense in the nation. In the ACC title game, the Seminoles have been gifted a matchup with Georgia Tech, thanks to Miami and North Carolina and their issues with the NCAA. The Yellow Jackets defense has given up some big days to opponents, and this looks like a great chance for Manuel to bounce back.

PLAYERS TO SIT

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (vs. Alabama on neutral field)

The matchup between Georgia and Alabama likely will garner the most attention this weekend, what with the winner almost guaranteed to play for the national championship. It more than likely, however, will be a defensive struggle. Murray has had a good year, but this is a very tough matchup. The Crimson Tide's defense might not be as stout as in previous seasons, but it is still one of the best defensive units in the nation, and Murray isn't exactly Johnny Manziel in terms of mobility. It likely will be a tough outing for Murray.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (at Rutgers)

It's been a rough few weeks for Louisville. After spending most of the season undefeated, they've lost their last two games, one of their top running backs and now Bridgewater is dealing with a broken wrist and a sprained ankle. However, he will still take the field against Rutgers because the Cardinals need to win this game to win the Big East and make it to a BCS bowl game. On the road against Rutgers, with the weather being what it is, combined with everything else, does not bode well for Bridgewater.

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA (at Stanford)

Much like we have a sense of what Taylor can do against UCLA, we just saw how Franklin did against the Cardinal. While he found the end zone, he was held to 65 yards on 21 carries. Playing on the road isn't going to help matters. Maybe Franklin scores another touchdown, but to expect much in the way of yardage is probably asking too much.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama (vs. Georgia on a neutral field)

Lacy has been on a tear recently, as he has scored seven touchdowns in his last four games. However, five of those came against Western Carolina and Auburn, who just fired its head coach after a tremendously disappointing season. As mentioned, this game will likely be a defensive struggle, and Lacy shares carries with T.J. Yeldon, a dynamic player in his own right. Lacy ran well on the road against LSU, which bodes well, but it is still a less than stellar matchup.

Mike Davis, WR, Texas (at Kansas State)

Davis has been Texas' top receiver this season, catching 51 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. However, this week Texas visits Kansas State, and the Wildcats will be playing their first game since losing their perfect record, hoping to secure the Big 12 title. Not only that, Case McCoy will start for the Longhorns, and he is not quite as good as David Ash, even if the difference isn't that notable. As a result, Davis might be kept a bit in check this week.

Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State (at Texas State)

Despite New Mexico State having a truly terrible season, Franklin had managed to rise above it to have fantasy value. In his first nine games, he never had less than five receptions and 72 yards, both of which came in the same game, and he scored a touchdown in that contest. However, the last two weeks it seems that Franklin has joined the rest of his teammates in irrelevance. He has five receptions for 35 yards combined. Texas State is not a good team, but at this point how can you trust Franklin, especially since his teammates are so bad?

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin (vs. Nebraska on a neutral field)

Early in the season, Abbrederis was having a nice season, but a mixture of things have conspired to pretty much leave him with no fantasy value. He has not scored a touchdown in six straight games, and he hasn't had more than 68 yards receiving in those six contests as well. Thanks to sanctions against two of their fellow teams in the Leaders/Legends division, the Badgers get to play for the Big 10 title, but Nebraska is clearly the better team. This won't be the week Abbrederis turns things around. There's always their bowl game.

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