One of the longest weekends in the history of the NFL is now over but for many of you, fantasy football seasons are still running, thanks in part to clutch lineup-setting and thrilling performances from your non-superstars. Welcome back to this week’s ever-so-important love/hate episode as we are, for the most part, fully in playoff mode. As usual, we will review last week’s picks and the take-home messages from watching them on the field, and then break out our Week 14 Loves and Hates.
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Week 13 Review
My Week 13 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for myself in parentheses.
Our quarterback love of the week is a man with an uncertain immediate future in the NFL. Yet, we picked him to feed off the Lions’ horrible defense as he did in Week 1. Mitchell Trubisky was solid as he went 26/34 on passes for 267 yards. He did fumble the ball once but did not throw an interception. He also threw a touchdown pass to the tight end, Cole Kmet. However, it was David Montgomery day for fantasy owners as he had two touchdown carries along with his 111 scrimmage yards. Trubisky’s lack of touchdown output put him outside the top 20 fantasy quarterbacks for the week.
If Trubisky gets another start for the Bears in Week 14, it’ll be against another incapable defense in the Houston Texans. He should remain on your radar for that matchup until Chicago learns more about Nick Foles and solidifies the status of the QB position.
Meanwhile, our hate pick of Deshaun Watson has been a guy we’ve been talking about a lot recently; first, I broke down his team following the suspension of their #1 receiver. Then, I warned you in last week’s love/hate segment about the dangers of starting him against a phenomenal Colts defense. Watson, who had been on one of the hottest QB streaks of the season, hadn’t turned the ball over since Week 5. But in Week 13, despite throwing for 341 passing yards, he was outside the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks. He fumbled a snap late in the game, threw an interception, and only managed 1 rushing touchdown.
While Watson’s ceiling remains low for his upcoming matchups, it’s not all dark for Texans fantasy owners. Starting running back David Johnson has now made his return and Keke Coutee, as we predicted, emerged as a fantasy sensation in Week 13.
Running Back (A)
Our love of the week at running back was the fine wine, none other than Frank Gore. Unfortunately, we don’t even have enough of a sample size to evaluate if the pick was good because after 1 carry for 2 yards, Gore left the game due to a concussion. We will not take this pick into account for our RB grade. Here is how the backup RB duo of the Jets fared after Gore left—an important piece of information as you visit the waiver wire ahead of Week 14.
|Ty Johnson||63%||22 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD||2 catches (2 targets), 13 yards|
|Josh Adams||31%||8 carries, 74 yards||0 catches (0 targets)|
* personal season-highs in bold
Our hate pick was a direct warning at the matchup posed between the New Orleans Saints and the starting backfield of the Atlanta Falcons. At the time of our pick, it wasn’t clear whether Todd Gurley or Brian Hill would be the starter for Atlanta but I told you to stay away from them regardless of their status. Gurley ended up being the starter but played timid and was not fantasy-relevant. Considering his history with knee injuries, a return of knee issues in his weekly report should pose a concern, even against enticing matchups going forward. Here is how the Atlanta backfield fared against the premium Saints rush defense.
|Todd Gurley||33%||8 carries, 16 yards||1 catch (1 target), 4 yards|
|Brian Hill||16%||5 carries, 18 yards||0 catches (0 targets)|
|Ito Smith||36%||8 carries, 36 yards||1 catch (2 targets), -2 yards|
* personal season-highs in bold
Wide Receiver (B+)
My love pick, Tyler Boyd, had an eventful Week 13 and his fantasy owners have been through an emotional roller-coaster over the last few weeks. After a quarterback downgrade from Joe Burrow to Brandon Allen, Boyd owners were concerned about the tough wide receiver matchup of the Miami Dolphins. But in my segment, I relieved you of your fears—Boyd, primarily a slot receiver, came into the game with his fair share of targets without Burrow and he didn’t have to deal with the outside matchup of the emerging star Xavien Howard. His response? A 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown to open up the scoring for the Bengals.
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2020
However, later in the game, the matchup between Cincinnati and Miami turned into Fight Club; there were multiple scuffles, including one that got both Howard and Boyd disqualified from the remainder of the game, leaving Boyd just with his one huge reception on 4 targets.
If you listened to me and started Boyd, that one play probably was enough to justify starting him and if he had stayed in the game till the end, he could have turned in one of the best wide receiver performances of the week. Don’t make the mistake of dropping Boyd—the targets are there and the explosive play in Week 13 was a reminder of what he can do with his talent, even if there is another quarterback change for the Bengals.
As for my wide receiver hate, as a Clemson fan, it hurt but I had to point out the troubling floor of DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins, still one of the best talents in the NFL, has now faced some hurdles. In Weeks 11 and 12, he was fairly uninvolved in the fantasy game, and in Week 13, I pointed out the tough matchup of Jalen Ramsey and the circumstances of Kyler Murray‘s banged-up shoulder.
Indeed, Hopkins did not make his first catch of the game until the third quarter. However, after the Cardinals fell behind, the superstar got more involved in the short-pass game. He ended the game with 8 receptions on 13 targets and a touchdown, quite a serviceable performance in PPR leagues. However, as I pointed out, in daily lineups, he was not a guy you chased, especially in standard scoring. Hopkins owners will obviously continue to start him in season-long leagues but concern continues to loom over the lack of involvement with Murray’s shoulder still not 100%.
DeAndre Hopkins route tree over his last three games has been… limited pic.twitter.com/dQzK9ZQtbV
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) December 8, 2020
Tight End (B-)
At tight end, it wasn’t the first time I picked on the talent and opportunity of T.J. Hockensen for the Detroit Lions. With Kenny Golladay still out and the Lions upgrading at the head coach position by firing Matt Patricia, Hockensen took advantage of a defense that allows a fair share of fantasy points to tight ends. He registered 7 receptions (tied for a season-high) on 9 targets and 84 yards (second-highest on the season). He was the PPR TE6 of Week 13 without scoring a touchdown. Hockensen has been one of the most consistent fantasy tight ends in the NFL this year.
For our hate pick, we called on the downfall of Eric Ebron, who put up 7 catches on 11 targets in Week 12, both season highs at the time. Against Washington, the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers spread the ball around their receivers again and, in fact, went right back to Ebron for pass-catching production in nearly identical fashion. In Week 13, Ebron tallied 7 catches on 11 targets yet again, this time for 68 yards. He was the PPR TE10 of Week 13 without a touchdown and will face an even better matchup in Week 14 when the Steelers face the Buffalo Bills. A bit of a surprise miss this week for us.
Week 14 Loves & Hates
Week 14 Quarterbacks
Love: Justin Herbert (LAC)
The Chargers have issues—their head coach doesn’t know what he’s doing and they lose more close games than anybody in the league. But rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is not one of them. The candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year has looked like a star, but over the last couple of weeks, he has been limited in output. In Austin Ekeler‘s return in Week 12, Herbert threw only 1 touchdown for the first time since Week 3, and in Week 13 against the Patriots, the Bill Belichick effect showed out yet again against a rookie quarterback. Herbert had his worst fantasy showing of the season as he threw 2 interceptions and no touchdowns. However, this is the worst time to give up on Herbert. In Week 14, he has a massive opportunity to get things right again against the inept Atlanta Falcons defense.
In 2020, the Falcons have given up 24 passing touchdowns (5th most), 2423 passing yards (3rd most), and 12 rushing touchdowns (16th most). They also rarely force turnovers — in fact, of the 8 interceptions by Atlanta’s defense this season, 3 of them came in one game way back in Week 6. This is the game for Lynn to put the ball in Herbert’s hands and let him work. After all, he hates Chargers backfield owners anyway. Fire up Herbert and grab his value in all your lineups.
Justin Herbert vs Patriots today: 209 total yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Justin Herbert in 10 other games: 320 total yards/game, 26 total TD, 7 INT
Kyler Murray vs Patriots last week: 201 total yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Kyler Murray in 11 other games: 314 total yards/game, 32 total TD, 9 INT
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 7, 2020
Hate: Jared Goff (LAR)
Speaking of LA and Bill Belichick? Looks like we have another matchup as soon as today. The Los Angeles Rams have been fairly confusing for fantasy owners this season outside of their wide receiver crew. Sean McVay refuses to have an obvious plan in the backfield and despite the fairly solid play of the underrated Jared Goff, the passing volume has been a roller coaster ride. One thing is certain though and it comes from the other sideline on Thursday Night Football. In a small sample size, Bill Belichick owns Jared Goff. In one regular-season game for Goff against the Patriots way back in 2016, he threw at a 14/32 clip with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. In the Super Bowl against the Patriots, he threw at a 19/38 clip with no touchdowns and 1 interception.
It’s been a while and Goff has matured. The issue for fantasy owners—so has Sean McVay, whose backfield is #1 in the NFL in yards per carry on first down, something that teams have not had too many issues doing against the Patriots defense in 2020. Instead of putting the ball in Goff’s hands and airing it, the Rams will need to establish the run game early and use the backfield committee to drive in the red zone. The floor for Goff is rock-bottom for fantasy owners.
Week 14 Running Backs
Love: J.D. McKissic (WAS)
On this week’s FAAB guide, Peter (@FF_Hypeman) recommended a couple of names to aggressively target and one of them is the versatile talent of J.D. McKissic. With Antonio Gibson looking like he is in line to miss Week 14’s contest against the tough defense of the 49ers, Washington will have no choice but to establish both the run and short pass game in order to open up the deep plays for Terry McLaurin and company. Who takes over that role? While Peyton Barber should get more work, his 2.7 yards per carry in 2020 combined with only 1 reception doesn’t make him the go-to guy. It’s going to be McKissic, whose tough matchup shouldn’t scare you away from his value, especially in PPR formats as a volume option.
Hate: Miles Sanders (PHI)
Possibly the biggest news in the NFL headed into Week 14, the big contract of Carson Wentz is now headed to the bench. The horrific situation of the Eagles offense will make a major change and the 2020 draftee Jalen Hurts will take over, not too long after the Eagles reportedly made some internal changes to their offensive play-calling.
🗣️ FREE MILES SANDERS pic.twitter.com/eNk71d7vGU
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 1, 2020
Last week, I targeted the Saints’ elite run defense (first against fantasy running backs) and I’m doing it again. While Hurts poses to be an overall offensive upgrade to the current Eagles, Sanders has been extremely touchdown-dependent for production despite his overall 5.3 yards per carry this season. With Hurts’ added ability to run the ball himself, the floor is way too concerning for Sanders to pick him in a daily and depending on your depth, you might want to just bench him in all leagues.
Week 14 Wide Receivers
Love: Robby Anderson (CAR)
With both D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel dealing with COVID list hurdles and Moore and superstar running back Christian McCaffrey also battling injuries, the Panthers could be left with very few options to create offense on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Luckily for them, they still have a versatile talent at wide receiver named Robby Anderson.
Anderson, who has spent time in several different alignments throughout the season on his way to the tenth-most receiving yards in the NFL by a wide receiver, will likely not have an overly challenging matchup to face with cornerback Bryce Callahan on IR and cornerback A.J. Bouye suspended for a PED violation for the Denver Broncos. Anderson has the volume, opportunity, and skill to be an auto-start in all lineups in Week 14.
Most rec. yards after contact by WRs:
1. Terry McLaurin – 208
2. Cooper Kupp – 190
3. Deebo Samuel – 182
4. Keenan Allen – 175
5. Robby Anderson – 174 pic.twitter.com/JNHV6n1PHC
— PFF (@PFF) December 3, 2020
Hate: DeVante Parker (MIA)
Dolphins fans have learned to love their team. They love their rookie quarterback, they love their defense, and they definitely love their head coach, Brian Flores. Yet, nobody is yet to figure out why Tua Tagovailoa can’t show ample love to DeVante Parker. In six games start by Tagovailoa, Parker has scored fewer than 8 PPR fantasy points in four of them. That number goes up north of 15 when Ryan Fitzpatrick starts under center. The truth is that you cannot trust Parker with the current quarterback situation. It doesn’t help that he faces the Kansas City Chiefs, the second-best PPR fantasy wide receiver defense in the NFL this season. This is a bench.
Week 14 Tight Ends
Love: Mark Andrews (BAL)
The tight end position has had a small bunch of fantasy boom potentials this season; while Mark Andrews is one of them, he is also unhealthily touchdown-dependent. However, even though his target share has been inconsistent over the course of 2020, since the injury of Nick Boyle, it has been on the rise. The good thing about the Cleveland Browns matchup? Only the New York Jets have given up more touchdowns to tight ends this season. So while Andrews might need a score to be an elite play at tight end this week, he is also very likely to get one after coming off the COVID list. Combine that with the added PPR value recently as Lamar Jackson’s #1 pass-catching target and Andrews’ ceiling is as high as TE2 of the week.
Hate: Zach Ertz (PHI)
The veteran Zach Ertz has been to three Pro Bowls, has led the NFL in a season in receptions by a tight end, and won a Super Bowl. Yet, in Week 14, he remains just a sidekick to the trustworthy Dallas Goedert. For those Eagles fantasy managers excited about a change at quarterback, you shouldn’t translate the excitement of a “Hurts to Ertz” rhyme into fantasy value. Ertz could very well find the end zone but with Wentz now the backup, there are no guarantees against the Saints defense and Ertz’s 44% snap share in Week 13 against the Packers isn’t making things any more encouraging. He shouldn’t be starting in any lineup in Week 14 although you can still stash him going forward to discover if the Eagles want to get him more involved down the stretch.
Can we finally get the elusive straight-As? Which steals and busts are you spotting other than the ones mentioned?
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