Latavius Murray is matchup-proof in Week 14 fantasy

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In case it slipped your mind, NFL football fans have the opportunity to vote on top performers at the running back and quarterback position following every regular week of action.

The candidates at quarterback last week were Philip Rivers, Josh McCown and Alex Smith. At running back, Alfred Morris, Kenyan Drake and Jamaal Williams were all featured following big games. You can check out the Week 13 winners here and return to cast your vote every week.

Instead of talking up obvious Air and Ground candidates like I did last week with Philip Rivers and Jared Goff, I'm going more of the sleeper route this week. Consider these value plays if you're in a deep or 2QB league, or looking for a bargain in DFS formats for Week 14.

Air Analysis:


Blaine Gabbert vs Titans

Recent Performance: In his three starts with the Cardinals, Blaine Gabbert has posted totals of 19, 17 and 10 fantasy points with a combined 6:5 TD:INT ratio during that span. He's throwing quite a bit, with 30-plus attempts per game. His yardage output has been above 220 yards in each contest, which helps boost his floor.

Surrounding Talent: Given his motley crew of targets in the receiving corps, Gabbert has fared well for fantasy owners in need of a sleeper option. Larry Fitzgerald has, not surprisingly been, his most reliable option, catching 22 passes from Gabbert for 201 yards and two touchdowns. His next top option, Ricky Seals-Jones, has seemingly come out of nowhere with nine grabs on 16 targets for 170 yards and a team-high three touchdowns in the last three games. So given that the little-known tight end is Gabbert's No. 2 option in the passing game, it's safe to say he's done well considering his weapons.

Next Gen Stats: One note that gives Gabbert an uptick in terms of his weekly floor is his propensity to frequently throw downfield. In the last two games, he's posted 11.6 and 9.5 Average Intended Air Yards (IAY) per attempt via Next Gen Stats. Both of those are top-10 numbers for their respective weeks. The only quarterbacks ahead of him in Week 13 were Carson Wentz, Alex Smith and DeShone Kizer. His 9.5 IAY in Week 12 landed him just behind guys like Philip Rivers, Josh McCown and Russell Wilson. He just needs to start connecting more on those deep balls, but when J.J. Nelson hauls in just four catches on 15 targets the last three games, you can get an idea of why Gabbert has struggled.

Matchup: His matchup against the Titans is a favorable one, as Tennessee has allowed more passing yards to quarterbacks, 1,125, than any other team over the last four weeks against a quartet consisting of Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Jacoby Brissett and Tom Savage. The unit has also allowed a 7:1 TD:INT ratio in that span. At the very least, Gabbert has one of the safest floors of value-play quarterbacks this week.

DeShone Kizer vs Packers

Recent Performance: In his last four games, DeShone Kizer has posted fantasy point totals of 22, five, 20 and 13 points. Inconsistent, yes, but he also has the potential for a high ceiling, as evidenced by his two 20-pointers, each of which was bolstered by a rushing score. The volume has been there for Kizer, too, as he's averaging 33 attempts per game in his last four. That's good volume that should continue given Cleveland's struggles to stay competitive.

Matchup: This week, Kizer gets a Packers pass defense that's played poorly on many fronts this season. Green Bay's secondary is allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game, 260, and the second highest completion percentage (68.5). Those factors should help the outlook for Kizer, who owns a paltry 53 percent completion rate on the season. The Packers have also allowed the second-most pass yards the last four weeks and have faced struggling signal-callers in Mitchell Trubisky and Joe Flacco in that span.

Next Gen Stats: Similarly to Gabbert above, Kizer's IAY according to Next Gen Stats is high, which means he's throwing downfield frequently. In fact, in Week 12 Kizer ranked second with an average of 12 IAY and in Week 13 he was first with a mark of 13. But again, he's struggled with accuracy which has capped his overall production.

Surrounding Talent: Kizer's lack of accuracy is definitely a problem, but with the most talented receiver he's had all year, Josh Gordon, back in the fold, things could turn around in terms of the rookie's production. Gordon led the team with 11 targets last week. Not to mention he still has a healthy Corey Coleman on the outside and emerging young tight end in David Njoku, who is a natural playmaker.

Ground Analysis:


Latavius Murray at Panthers

So long as the Vikings can keep the chains moving and control the clock, which they've had success in doing all season (best third-down conversion rate in NFL, 46 percent), expect Latavius Murray to have another big workload in which he'll be able to produce for your fantasy squad, even in what looks like a tough matchup in Carolina.

Recent Performance: The Vikings backfield duo of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon have combined for 922 rushing yards since Week 5, which is the second-most among a running back duo in that span only to Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. And 57 percent of those 922 yards, or 534, belong to Murray. He's really been rolling the last four games, averaging 17 attempts, 4.8 yards per carry and has four rushing touchdowns in that span. With the Vikings offense firing on all cylinders and piling up wins at home and on the road they've kept opposing defenses guessing.

Matchup: Yes, the matchup against Carolina is unfavorable when you're looking at the numbers on paper. The Panthers are allowing just 75.9 rush yards per game to opposing backs this season. But sometimes, volume trumps matchup. We saw it in Week 12 with Jamaal Williams against the Steelers (25 touches, 135 total yards, 2 TDs) and with Mike Davis last week against the Eagles (20 touches, 101 total yards). Plus, despite Carolina's run-stopping success form a season-long perspective, the unit has had trouble limiting running back production in recent weeks. In Week 10, the Dolphins backs combined for 131 total yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. And last week, the Saints dominant duo of Ingram and Kamara racked up 248 total yards and three touchdowns against them.

Jets RBs: Matt Forte & Bilal Powell at Broncos

You're definitely taking on some inherent risk rolling with either Forte or Powell in fantasy football, because the Jets backfield is, and has been, a muddled and unpredictable committee all season. But there is reason to invest in PPR formats this week when the Jets travel to Denver.

Matchup: The Broncos defense over the last four weeks has struggled against running backs, allowing 555 total yards and six total touchdowns to the position. Last week, Kenyan Drake was the RB6 in PPR scoring against Denver, with 141 total yards and a touchdown against them. The week before, Marshawn Lynch dominated with 110 total yards and a trip to the end zone, for another RB6 performance against Denver. And in Week 10, Rex Burkhead put up 63 total yards and a touchdown at Mile High Stadium, finishing as the RB11 in PPR that week. So that's three top-11 PPR finishes for backs who faced Denver in the last month.

Recent Performance: With the Jets offense finding a groove since Week 8, the backfield committee (including Elijah McGuire) has combined for 685 total yards and three touchdowns. In that five-game span, Forte and Powell have two occasions where both finished as top 25 fantasy backs (Week 9, Week 13). The Jets have posted at least 20 points in four of those five games, and while much of it has to do with Josh McCown's success under center and his connection with Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson, the backs are viable fantasy options if you're looking for some Week 14 value plays.

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