Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 14
While it is Week 14 and the fantasy football playoffs, I use this time at the top of my sleepers piece to rant and/ or rave about something. This time, I am going to be selfish and talk about my Dallas Cowboys, formerly, an NFL football team. If you’ve paid attention this season, you’ll know why I am livid this morning.
The Cowboys, my team, a team that I have stuck with through the good and the bad — and there have been more bad times than good since the mid-90s — have quit. Not only have they quit on Jason Garrett, which is understandable, but when you quit on your head coach, you’re also quitting on your teammates, which is why someone should have stepped in. Perhaps, a players-only meeting which we see other organizations do during the hard times would have been sufficed.
Jason Witten, Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Tyron Smith, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb. That is the very short list of players continuing to give a damn and play for each other. If this was the NBA with five starters and a 5-to-6-man bench, that would be fine. But I just named nine players out of a 53-man roster who care and that will not cut it in the NFL. I just think players like Witten, Cobb, Cooper — whose played hurt all year long — Smith — whose also been banged up — and Cobb deserve better. They are all tenured veterans who believed they would be contending for a championship this season and deserve better. Hell, even Michael Bennett, who has been in Dallas for a cup of coffee, cares more than most of the team that has been there for a while.
And of all years to quit… a year in which the NFC East is the bargain basement of the NFL? A well-coached and led team like the New England Patriots have taken advantage of a defunct AFC East for the better part of 20 years. The Cowboys… nope. They just quit amidst a prime opportunity. While you can blame coaching, which is deserved, I also believe the players and ownership need to take an inventory on themselves moving forward. That means you, Jerry Jones. That means YOU!
The following is a recap of the players from my Fantasy Football Sleepers article last week, you can read that here.
Most-Productive Players from Week 13
Fantasy Sleepers Week 13: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
- What a time to have one of my best weeks of the season in my column. 7-of-10 players accumulated at least 10 PPR points and hopefully helped lead you to the fantasy playoffs.
- While Sam Darnold was a flop in a plus matchup at the Bengals, Jared Goff, who many quit on finally bounced back after a long run of sub-par football. He managed to finish as the QB6 with 25 points.
- While Jonathan Williams flopped after going for over 100 total yards in back-to-back games — the Colts finally included Jordan Wilkins in the mix, which is why I was hesitant about Williams in the first place, but used him just because of his two-game usage and production track record — Jamaal Willams was solid as usual. The Packers RB2 finished with 10.7 PPR points, which was the eighth time out of 11 games he finished in the double-digits.
- Derrius Guice c’mon down. Guice sliced and diced an inept Panthers run defense for 137 total yards and two touchdowns on 12 touches, good for 27.2 PPR points and an RB2 finish.
- All of my wideouts finished with at least 13 PPR points and scored. The leader, Alshon Jeffery torched the Dolphins for 28.7 PPR points and a WR3 finish.
- While Ryan Griffin had a down week with eight PPR points, Kyle Rudolph continues to tear it up, especially in the red area. Rudolph finished as the TE6 with 15 PPR points.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 14? Don’t sweat! My co-host at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Start’em/ Sit’em column featured exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
QB Fantasy Sleepers Week 14
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.5
While Baker Mayfield clearly regressed in 2019 — he has not accumulated 20 fantasy points in a single game until Week 11 — he has begun to turn it around of late. In fact, speaking of that Week 11 outing, he’s put up at least 21.7 fantasy points in two of his past three games since that mark. And while he was disappointing last week at the Steelers, the matchup wasn’t there and Mayfield is, in fact, a matchup play at best at this point, which is why I love him in his upcoming tilt against the Bengals.
While the Bengals have played better of late, especially at home, they have been pummeled by enemy signal callers all season long. Not only are the Bengals allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs at a 21.1 FPPG pace, but they have yielded at least 20 fantasy points to the opposing QB in eight of 12 games played this season. Sure, they’ve managed to hold both Steelers QBs and Sam Darnold to fewer than 12.7 fantasy points in the past two games, but that was in Cincinnati. On the road at Cleveland, the Bengals should once again be lit up.
In two career games against the Bengals, Mayfield looks like a Hall of Fame quarterback — it’s his games facing the rest of the league that drags him down. Mayfield has thrown for 542 yards with seven touchdowns and zero picks in two games versus Cincinnati last season while averaging 28.2 FPPG. I am expecting a similar performance at home on Sunday. Mayfield is a middling QB2 with QB1 upside if he does his job in Week 14.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.6
In his past five games since Week 9, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the QB4 with 103.6 fantasy points and a 20.6 FPPG average. Crazy right? What is even more nuts is the fact that Fitzpatrick has willed the Dolphins to win three of their past five games in that time period while resurrecting the career of DeVante Parker and finally jump-starting the career of Mike Gesicki, who are the respective WR3 and TE6 in that time span.
Fitzpatrick will look to keep the magic going in his upcoming Sunday matchup at the Jets in a revenge game. While the New York defense has improved, more so in stopping the run, they remain exploitable through the air. While the jets defense ists in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs — they are yielding the 16th-most fantasy points to enemy signal callers at a 17.5 FPPG rate — Fitzpatrick has been one of the hottest fantasy QBs since Week 7, scoring at least 20.6 fantasy points in four of his past seven games. And while he is on the road, he has played and started for the Jets in the past — successfully might I add — and has a familiarity playing at Met Life stadium in the cold weather.
In three of their past six games, the Jets have allowed at least 23.7 fantasy points to the opposing quarterback, one of which, was Fitzpatrick back in Week 9. And while New York has managed to hold Dwayne Haskins, Derek Carr, and Andy Dalton to fewer than 15.1 fantasy points in each of their past three games, Fitzpatrick has a prime opportunity to exploit his former team again in Week 14. With Parker and Gesicki playing extremely well at their positions while Patrick Laird is catching passes out of the backfield and perhaps emerging as a decent threat at running back, a position where the Dolphins have struggled to find efficiency at all season long, Fitzpatrick has the pieces in place for another successful outing.
RB Fantasy Sleepers Week 14
Derrius Guice | Adrian Peterson
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.5 | 7.8
I like both Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson in their upcoming Sunday matchup against the Packers, who are coming off monster games last week at the Panthers. While Chris Thompson finally made his return last week after a lengthy absence with a toe injury, the oft-injured pass-catching back only handled four touches for 29 yards. Most of the workload was split between Guice and Peterson, who combined for 229 yards rushing and three TDs on 23 carries. For Guice, he thrashed Carolina for 129 yards rushing and a pair of scores on 10 carries — he finished as the RB2 with 27.2 PPR points — while Peterson pounded the Panthers for 99 yards rushing and a TD on 13 carries — he finished as the RB20 with points.
In their upcoming matchup facing a Packers defense yielding the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs at a 22.1 FPPG pace, I expect quality outings from both Guice and Peterson. Although I don’t expect them both to go off again, they both do present high-double-digit PPR point floors due to their workload split and the matchup. The Packers have given up six TDs rushing in five games since Week 8 including at least one score on the ground in four of their past five games — they only kept Saquon Barkley out of the end zone in last week’s win over the Giants.
While Guice has never played against the Packers in his short career — he was injured for last year’s outing — Peterson has a ton of success and experience against Green Bay, especially playing at Lambeau field from his time in Minnesota. And speaking of last year’s matchup between the Packers and Redskins, Peterson smashed Green Bay for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, good for 24.0 PPR points in September of 2018. For Week 14, both Guice and Peterson are in-play as high-floor Flex options with scoring upside facing a Packers defense that has allowed seven different backs to accumulate double-digit PPR points on them in their past five games.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.5
With James Conner ruled out for his third consecutive game with his shoulder injury, Benny Snell is once again in-play as the Pittsburgh RB1. In three of his past four games played, Snell has really emerged as a quality fantasy play, scoring at least 9.9 PPR points in those outings. However, in his past two games since returning from his knee injury, Snell is playing his best football while earning the trust of Mike Tomlin. In two games since Week 12, Snell has received 37 carries for 161 yards rushing and a touchdown — he added another nine yards on two receptions — returning at least 11.3 PPR points in those matchups.
Now, Snell will get a terrific matchup facing a Cardinals defense allowing the 10th most fantasy points to RBs at a 20.2 FPPG rate. Hell, they made Todd Gurley look like Todd Gurley again last week, which means Snell could look like Franco Harris on Sunday — I’m being facetious clearly. While the Arizona defense has been gashed by running backs all season long, they’ve been increasingly bad in recent memory. In fact, the Cardinals have given up 28.5 percent more fantasy points above the 23.2-point NFL average in the past five weeks, allowing six different backs to accumulate at least 10.2 PPR points against them and eight with at least 9.2 PPR points in the past five games. Snell is a high-floor workload-dependent Flex option with RB2 upside if he scores on a Cardinals defense that has surrendered a touchdown to an enemy back in each of their past three games in Week 14.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.5
The fact that Rashaad Penny is only being started in 7.5 percent of leagues at ESPN right now shows that nobody is paying attention. In his past two games, Penny has finally emerged and flashed his first-round draft pick pedigree he earned form the Seahawks a year ago. While Chris Carson isn’t going anywhere despite the fact that he ends up in Pete Carroll’s dog house every few weeks due to his ball-security issues, Penny has played well enough with his opportunities to earn himself a role moving forward. In two games since Week 12, Penny has totaled 236 yards (33 receiving) and three TDs on 33 touches (four receptions) while scoring at least 18.9 PPR points in each matchup. Penny is the PPR RB4 in that two-game time period.
Now, Penny will look to keep his two-game scoring streak rolling in a tough but exploitable matchup facing a Rams defense yielding the 17th most fantasy points to enemy backs at an 18.0 FPPG rate. While I don’t love the matchup, the Seahawks run the ball well enough to exploit even the toughest of opponents if they are on. Although the Rams have played well in two of their past five games against fantasy RBs, holding Steelers and Cardinals backs to fewer than 7.1 PPR points collectively, they were gashed in the remaining three games in that five-game timespan since Week 8 by Joe Mixon (17.7), Tarik Cohen (18.4) and Mark Ingram (24.8). What’s more, the Rams have allowed Chirs Carson to have a big-time outing against them back in Week 5 as he went for 19.3 PPR points, which proves even more so that Seattle has Los Angeles’ number on the ground this season. And while Penny was not really involved in that encounter, he does have success facing the Rams in a game form Nov. 2018 in which he carried the ball 12 times for 108 yards and a TD, finishing with 16.8 points. While Carson will remain heavily involved, Penny is getting enough work to be viewed as a slam-dunk Flex option with RB2 upside if he scores in Week 14.
Week 14 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.5
After a treacherous start to the year, Robby Anderson has begun to turn the corner down the stretch in the second half of the season. In his past three games since Week 11, Anderson has either scored or returned a 7/101/0 stat line on 10 targets, which is what he managed to do in last week’s loss to the Bengals. And while he only finished Week 11 with 7.6 PPR points despite scoring — his six-yard TD was his lone reception — Anderson has put up at least 17.1 PPR points in each of his past two outings.
In his upcoming home encounter with the Dolphins, Anderson will get a Miami defense surrendering the third-most fantasy points to WRs at a 27.4 FPPG rate. They’ve been especially fruitful in the past three weeks in which they have given up 53.8-percent more fantasy points above the 32.8 league average on a 46/626/7 stat line to the position. Moreover, the Miami secondary has allowed four different wideouts to drop at least 20.7 PPR points on them in their past three games, which should continue in Week 14 facing Sam Darnold in a home bounce-back effort in a game that could ultimately turn out as a shootout. While Anderson doesn’t have a high-floor, if you need a high-ceiling play, Anderson is your guy in Week 14.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.5
T.Y. Hilton has yet to practice this week with a calf injury is trending in the wrong direction for Sunday’s matchup with the Buccaneers, which means Zach Pascal could be in line for another big outing. While Pascal has been quiet since going off in two games earlier in the year, the last one being an 18.6-pointer back in Week 9 against the Steelers, he had a bounce-back game last week in a tough matchup with the Titans. With both Hilton and Eric Ebron out, Pascal caught 7-of-10 targets for 109 yards as Jacoby Brissett’s No 1. or No. 2 target depending on how you view Jack Doyle’s role in the offense.
In his upcoming matchup, I expect Pascal to be heavily featured facing a Buccaneers defense allowing the most fantasy points to WRs at a ridiculous 31.3 FPPG rate. Not only does he have the proven track record with Brissett, but outside of him and Doyle, the Colts don’t have much else at pass-catcher, especially if Hilton sits — Charles Rogers is also out. Not only has the Tampa Bay defense surrendered 57.4 percent more fantasy points above the 33.4-point NFL average in the past five weeks, but they have also given up an 84/1,163/10 stat line to the wide receiver position as a whole in that time period. What’s more, the Buccaneers’ secondary have allowed at least 10.8 PPR points to 10 different wideouts in those five games since Week 9. Pascal is set up for a monster game and should be in your WR3 or Flex spots in Week 14 with confidence.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.3
Since Week 9, James Washington has been a pleasant surprise for his fantasy owners. In that give-game timespan, not only has Washington accumulated at least 10.9 PPR points in four of those games, but he has also seen at least five targets three times and at least seven targets twice. Washington has also scored a TD in three of his past four games including in two straight and will look to keep his scoring streak going in a great Week 14 matchup with the Cardinals, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 25.4 FPPG rate. In fact, the Cardinals defense has allowed 67.4 more fantasy points above the 32.8-point NFL average in the past three weeks on a 42/562/2 stat line collectively to the position. They have also surrendered at least 12.2 PPR points to six different wideouts in that three-game timespan since Week 10. With JuJu Smith-Schuster likely set to miss his third straight game with a knee injury — he has yet to practice this week — Washington should once again return a respectable double-digit PPR point floor in Week 14. All hail Duck Hodges and the Cardinals inept secondary for making it all happen.
TE Fantasy Sleepers Week 14
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.5
While I am tempted to roll out Vance McDonald against the Cardinals as a pure matchup play, I just don’t trust anything on the Steelers’ offense from a fantasy football perspective right now with Devlin Hodges at QB outside of Benny Snell and perhaps James Washington — the Steelers defense, however, is another story. Therefore, I rather roll the dice on Mike Gesicki, who has played well of late.
In five games since Week 9, Gesicki has really emerged and flashed for the first time in his two-year career. Not only has Gesicki developed a trust and a rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he is the TE6 in that five-game time period while seeing at least six targets in each of his past five games. What’s more, in each of his past two games since Week 12, Gesicki has drawn at least seven targets and has scored in both matchups. Gesicki will look to keep his good fortunes rolling in a tough but exploitable outing at the Jets on Sunday, a team he caught all six of his targets for a career-high 95 yards against back in Week 9, which began his current run.
While the Jets are only yielding the fourth-fewest fantasy points to TEs at a meager 5.3 FPPG pace, they have allowed three of their last five opponent’s top-scoring tight ends to accumulate at least 9.6 PPR points including two in the double-digits — Gesicki was one of them in the before-mentioned Week 9 outing. With Jamal Adams, the Jets’ elite safety, expected to sit this week with a knee injury, the New York secondary and defense as a whole will take a tremendous hit, which should open things up for Gesicki. A South Jersey native — Gesicki played high school ball about 10 miles north of where I live — Gesicki could put on a show and score in his third straight game in front of his New Jersey faithful in Week 14.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.3
Gerald Everett has yet to practice this week after missing last week’s pounding of the Cardinals with a knee injury. And if he does not return to practice on Friday, it is safe to say that he will miss his second straight game, making Tyler Higbee, who went ballistic in Week 13 finishing as the TE1 with 23.7 PPR points, a top fantasy sleeper at tight end once again. In a prime matchup against Arizona, Higbee accumulated a 7/107/1 stat line on eight targets and will have another excellent opportunity for a big game in Sunday’s home tilt against a Seahawks defense surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs at a 9.7 FPPG pace.
While the Cardinals defense is borderline historically bad at defending the tight end in 2019, Seattle isn’t faring much better this year, especially in the past three games. The Seahawks have allowed 148.1 percent more fantasy points to TEs above the 11.4-point league average in the past three weeks while yielding at least 15 PPR points to Kyle Rudolph (15) and Zach Ertz (27.1) in each of their past two outings. And in that same game against the Eagles back in Week 12 in which Ertz went off, Dallas Goedert even had himself a game as he returned 10.2 PPR points of his own.
While Higbee doesn’t have a ton of success against the Seahawks in his career, Everett, his injured counterpart, has scored or returned a 7/136/0 line on Seattle in back-to-back games including pummelling them in their Week 5 meeting earlier this season for the aforementioned 136-yard game. And in that same Week 5 outing, Higbee accumulated 7.7 PPR points on a 3/47/0 line of his own. If Evertt plays without limitations, he would be the tight end to start on your fantasy team. However, if Everett is out, which is the current expectation, then Higbee should be a slam dunk for another double-digit point floor week.
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