Week 14 of the 2011 NFL season kicks off on Thursday evening as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns looking to hang steady with the Baltimore Ravens at the top of the AFC North. More importantly for much of the rest of the world, fantasy football playoffs are getting started.
For a majority of fantasy football leagues, Week 14 is the first round of your playoffs. If you have a bye you get to relax and enjoy a week of football with no repercussions. If you have a first round matchup, it is officially win or go home time, which adds all the more stress, particularly if your favorite team is battling for their playoff lives.
Week 14 will feature a host of intriguing matchups with big fantasy implications. Arguably the most important game is the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Houston Texans. I suggest this is so important because of the involvement of Arian Foster. The Texans won in their first full game of the T.J. Yates era, but now they head to Cincinnati to face a generally stout defense that will key in on Foster. The Texans running back is a monster in fantasy football and he could be facing eight- and nine-man boxes the rest of the season.
The New Orleans Saints head on the road to face the Tennessee Titans. While the Saints are on a roll, the majority of their success has come in the cozy confines of the Louisiana Superdome. They travel to Tennessee to face a tough Titans team. Can Drew Brees put together his fourth straight 20+ point effort? The streak might snap, but if anybody can blow up this Titans defense, it is Drew Brees.
Most fantasy football contests will be decided by the end of Sunday as Monday Night Football features the up and down Seattle Seahawks against the abysmal St. Louis Rams. Aside from Steven Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, there are likely going to be very few other significant fantasy performers playing.
It should make an exciting Sunday of football. Over the coming days we'll break down some possible sleepers for the week ahead, as well as other generally big performances. Friday, Sunday and Monday we'll follow that up with a breakdown of all the pertinent fantasy performers.