Week 14, you know what means…
Insert Jim Mora “Playoffs?!?!” joke of your choice here.
First off, my condolences if you were banking on Colin Kaepernick’s help to get you into the playoffs this week. If you got in despite that effort you might be destined for the glory of a championship run.
The playoffs are a different kind of animal. Leave any loyalties to certain players at the door in weeks 14-16. Whatever you do, don’t be the guy who says…
“Wellllll they got me this far”
I mean if it is close that is a fine criteria to break the tie when choosing between two players, but if you are knowingly passing up a better matchup then that is bad for business.
While this next concept might contradict the above advice, another area to focus on is the boom or bust factor. If you snuck into the playoffs and clearly have the inferior team in your matchup, don’t be afraid to roll the dice on some boom or bust players.
Week 14: Workin’ the Wire
On the whole, quarterback production was down in Week 13. Only six quarterbacks cracked 20 fantasy. Of those five, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton are widely available. I am not rushing to the wire for either guy, but Dalton does get a bite of the Browns defense in Week 14 if you are in a pinch.
It was a similar story at the tight end position. The three top scorers, Dennis Pitta, Dwayne Allen, and Ladarius Green are owned in less than half of ESPN leagues. I am not interested in Pitta. Before Sunday’s 9/90/2 performance he hadn’t surpassed four fantasy points in the previous six weeks. It is a similar story for Allen, who before his MNF eruption had scored more than four fantasy points on just two occasions. On the other hand, grab some Ladarius stock while you can. He is the vertical down the seam threat that this offense has been missing. With the amount of attention that Antonio Brown draws, Green will have opportunities.
What to do with Martellus Bennett? If you own him, you have to hope that his recent struggles have been caused from playing through a nagging ankle injury. He has totaled just 40 yards over his last three games and is averaging under four targets per contest over that stretch. With Gronkowski done for the season, there is a ton of upside playing in that offense. If you have the roster flexibility to be able to hold Bennett I would recommend it. Maybe he can shake these injuries and be a major contributor in Week 15 or 16. As for starting him this week, well more on that in a bit.
Carson Palmer @ MIA
Palmer is on a strong run. He has thrown for either 300+ yards or multiple touchdowns in six straight games. Over that stretch he has attempted 45+ passes in every game but one. The Dolphins defense has been lit up recently…
Week 10: Rivers – 326/3
Week 11: Goff – First career start. That is like a get out of jail free card.
Week 12: Kaepernick – 296/3
Week 13: Flacco – 381/4
If he throws 45 passes against this defense he will have an incredibly high floor, and in a playoff matchup that is huge.
Russell Wilson @ G.B.
Don’t let respectable outings against Carson Wentz and Brock Osweiler fool you. The Packers secondary is rough–like a five-hour plane ride home from Vegas after a bachelor party rough. When Osweiler can put 17 fantasy points on you in the snow, you’re in trouble. Before those two outings they surrendered 24+ fantasy points in three of the previous four games. In weeks 9-11 Wilson was red-hot scoring 22+ fantasy points in each game. He has regressed in his last two games, but I expect a 20 point effort this week in what could be a shootout.
Tyler Eifert @ CLE
I had no idea what would happen to Eifert when A.J. Green went down. I knew it would be one of two scenarios though.
- With no serious deep threats at receiver, defenses would be able to play their safties down which could make it difficult for Eifert to get any work done down the seams.
- With A.J. Green out of the picture, Eifert would be the only receiving target he has a history with beyond this season. He would become a target hog and be a top 5 play each week.
To be honest, looking at his two game logs I am still not sure which scenario is true.
Game 1: 11 targets 5/68/1.
Game 2: 2 targets 2/25/1.
One thing that is for sure, in the red zone Dalton loves Eifert. The Browns have given up nine tight end touchdowns this season. I like Eifert’s chances to make it three straight with a touchdown.
Cameron Brate vs. N.O.
Brate is coming off his best game of the season. Judging by his nine targets he is quickly proving to be Jameis Winston’s second favorite target in an offense that isn’t shy about throwing the ball. Brate has developed some consistency catching at least four passes in four of his last five games. Oddly enough the Saints defense is on a run in which opposing tight ends have caught four passes in four of their last five games. I think it is safe to say that Brate is going to catch at least four passes this week which should provide fantasy owners with a sturdy floor.
Marcus Mariota vs. DEN
There really should be a spot reserved in this section for “quarterback who faces Denver.” The Broncos have allowed two quarterbacks to score 20+ fantasy points against them (Newton and Brees). They have allowed multiple touchdown passes only twice and Brees is the only quarterback to hit them for more than 267 pass yards. Mariota has been playing great, and has scored 20+ fantasy points in four consecutive games. However, unless he does some serious damage with his legs, that streak will be broken this week.
Dak Prescott @ NYG
In Week 13, the Vikings held Dak to a season low 139 pass yards which resulted in matching a season low 10 fantasy points. In Week 14, he gets another tough matchup facing the New York Giants, who oh by the way were the other team to hold him to 10 fantasy points. That matchup was back in Week 1 so I am giving Dak a pass with it being his first career start. Even so, the Giants have been tough on opposing quarterbacks all season. They have yet to allow a quarterback to score 20+ fantasy points on them. Dak’s ability to make plays with his legs helps out his bottom line, but if at all possible I am staying away from him this week.
Martellus Bennett vs. BAL
Earlier in the article I touched on Bennett’s struggles. In Week 13 he was on the field for 54 of the 79 offensive snaps. While that is more than enough snaps to produce, the concern is that he was only targeted four times. I watched all 79 snaps of that game and to me Bennett did not pass the eye-test. The routes that he did run were not competitive. He ran some clear-outs for underneath routes to develop and some late releases for check-downs, but he ran very few routes in which he was the primary read. I am blaming the ankle injury, but maybe that is just wishful thinking.
If things weren’t bad enough, the matchup against the Ravens is brutal. They have allowed only two tight ends to score more than five fantasy points. Who knows, he could shake these injuries and be a monster for the stretch run, but there is no way you can trust him this week.
Dwayne Allen vs. HOU
You know who I pity? The poor guy who needed to avoid a 25 point effort from Dwayne Allen in order to make his fantasy playoffs…
I can picture it now. He probably had a bucket of champagne sitting next to him just waiting to pop the cork and celebrate an appearance in the playoffs. Obviously, an opening drive touchdown isn’t ideal but what are the odds? He surely isn’t going to hurt you in the yardage department. He has had just one game with more than 50 yards all season. It was going to take another two touchdowns to knock him off his playoff perch…
Fast-forward two hours and that same poor guy was sipping warm champagne straight from the bottle while watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to cheer himself up…
That “guy” was me, minus the stuff about Dwayne Allen.
Oh yeah, by the way Houston locks down opposing tight ends. Only two all season have had more than 42 receiving yards.
Stack Play: Wilson to Graham
This goes back to the Packers defense. They have allowed at least one tight in each game to have 30+ yards receiving against them. This includes guys like Will Tye, Austin Hooper, and Jack Doyle. They have faced only two Jimmy Graham caliber tight ends. They were able to “hold” Jordan Reed to 5/79. Delanie Walker on the other hand torched them for 9/124/1. Graham has been playing well scoring double digit fantasy points in three of his last five games. With Walker having a tough matchup against the Broncos, and Olsen in a major slump, Graham has the highest floor of any tight end this week.
Good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @barkballin if you have any questions.
(Click the RED link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Football Show: Join Ej Garr, Corey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Sunday December 11th, 2016 from 11am-12:30pm EST for episode #79 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. We will be breaking down key matchups, discussing fantasy start/sit, some DFS, and handicapping as well.
Jeff is the defensive coach for Freedom H.S. in PA, an 8 year veteran of Major League Fantasy Sports, and 3 time champion.
You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”
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@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.