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Week 14 Busts for Fantasy Football: Matt Ryan, Amari Cooper, Delanie Walker & More


Week 14 Fantasy Football Busts

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Ryan has struggled with consistency this year, with 11 of his 13 interceptions coming in five games. With a tough matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 14, he is bound for another frustrating performance.

The Panthers have the third most sacks in the league, the fifth most recovered fumbles and the most interceptions. Even if Julio Jones is not shut down by Josh Norman, the Falcons' top target will likely be contained to the point where Ryan will have to rely on a mediocre supporting cast. The receiving corps behind Jones is not strong to begin with, and with Leonard Hankerson lost for the season, Ryan has even fewer options.

Devonta Freeman is poised for a 30-touch game between rushes and short throws. Carolina's one "weakness" on defense has been stopping running backs from catching the ball out of the backfield. Seven different running backs have had at least four receptions against the Panthers, and six backs have actually had more receiving yards than rushing yards.

In Week 9 vs. the 49ers, Freeman made up for his poor showing on the ground by catching eight passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. With Carolina's strong defensive front, Ryan and Freeman might have to rely on that strategy. But no, that will not be enough to warrant starting Ryan this week in anything but the deepest of leagues. Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston are all significantly more trustworthy options this week.

Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN)

While the Cincinnati Bengals have had an excellent season as a whole, their running game hasn't turned out quite as expected. Head coach Marvin Lewis came into 2015 with what he thought would be a two-headed monster in Hill and Bernard. However, neither of the two backs have been consistently productive throughout the year, with the only 100-yard game coming from Bernard in Week 2.

Hill struggled early on to the point that he lost his starting job, and while he has actually had season highs in each of the past two weeks, he has failed to collect 25 yards on three separate occasions earlier in the season. Additionally, all eight of his rushing touchdowns came in just four of his 12 games. Bernard has been the better of the two backs for the large majority of the season, but he has just two touchdowns on the season, and none since Week 6.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have effectively kept backs out of the end zone all year. Their run defense as a whole is stingy, but even if Hill or Bernard are able to pick up chunks of yards, it would be a surprise to see either of them cross the goal line against a unit that has allowed just three rushing touchdowns all year.

Last time the Bengals and Steelers met, Hill gained 60 yards on 15 touches and Bernard saw just one carry for 12 yards. Neither scored a touchdown and neither made it to 10 fantasy points. Again, the tandem has been coming together as of late, but both backs are still prone to a disappearing act, and against a defensive unit like that of the Steelers, it is not worth the risk.

Amari Cooper / Michael Crabtree (WR, OAK)

The Oakland Raiders are battling for a chance at the playoffs, but that path will not be easy, as they face a very strong Denver defensive unit in Week 14. Denver has only allowed two receivers -- Travis Benjamin and Marquess Wilson -- to collect 100 yards receiving this year.

The Broncos have also allowed just 11 receiving touchdowns, the fewest in the NFL. While Crabtree and Cooper are both in the midst of breakout years -- Crabtree's is actually more of a rebirth -- but as of late, both have quieted down. Crabtree has failed to garner 60 yards in any of the past four games, and Cooper has struggled mightily with drops in his rookie campaign.

The last time these two teams met, each receiver had just four receptions-- Crabtree for 54 yards, Cooper for 47. While quarterback Derek Carr has improved since Week 5, the Broncos' defense has continued its strong play, and Carr has struggled a bit against the stout defenses of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings.

Travis Benjamin, Doug Baldwin and Brandin Cooks are three less-started players who are more reliable options this week. Neither Oakland receiver is a horrible start, as they always have big-play upside, but their floors are unusually low this week for players of their caliber. Don't necessarily avoid Carr's top weapons at all costs, but definitely look for a more appealing option.

Delanie Walker (TE, TEN)

Walker has been the best fantasy tight end over the last four weeks, with 344 yards and touchdown over that span. On the year, he ranks fifth in standard and 0.5 ppr leagues in total fantasy points. This week, however, he has much less fantasy appeal. Walker averages roughly 73 receiving yards per game, but the New York Jets, his Week 14 opponents, have allowed only Rob Gronkowski to reach that mark so far this year.

Walker is not a huge red zone threat -- 16 other tight ends have as many or more touchdowns than he has (four) -- so his strong numbers almost always come from a heavy workload. If he is unable to consistently get open against a physical Jets' linebacking corps, the veteran tight end could be in for a forgettable day. Guys like Coby Fleener and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, both of whom are typically backups, might be better plays this week given their favorable matchups with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints, respectively.

 

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