Welcome to Week 14 of the fantasy football season! If you made it to your league playoffs, congratulations. If you didn’t, there are daily leagues to play. If you don’t play DFS, well, thanks for the click and have a nice day.
Every week, I’m taking a look at some of the best and worst fantasy matchups and situations of the week, informed by the stats and information we’ve compiled over at Pro Football Focus. Sometimes, these will help you make start/sit decisions. Other times, it’s just about managing expectations or picking DFS options. Either way, this should help for Week 14.
As always, we start off with my mismatch of the week. And for those who have made it to the playoffs, good luck.
Mismatch of the week
Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
I’m going to keep going to this well the rest of the year, because “decent receiver facing Philadelphia” is as close to a cheat code as we have in fantasy right now. Even while holding three of four receiving corps out of the end zone since their Week 9 bye, the Eagles allowed more than 42 PPR points per game to Dallas, New Orleans and the Giants in Weeks 10-12 before holding the hapless Washington passing offense under the guidance of Mark Sanchez to 17.1. The Eagles have Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones back in action, but even then, this has been a subpar pass defense far more often than not this season. Cooper, who has had 75-plus yards in three of his past four games, should make it four of five against the group in Week 14.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Maybe I’m just a sucker, but there’s no reason for Rodgers to have performed as (relatively) poorly as he has for fantasy much of this year. He’s still PFF’s third-highest-graded passer (90.4, behind only Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes). He’s only thrown one interception. Yes, his receivers after Davante Adams have been disappointing, but he’s done more with less in other years. So until proven otherwise, I’m going to choose to believe it was indeed a Mike McCarthy problem. This week, with McCarthy out and facing an Atlanta defense that, while better of late, has allowed three-plus passing touchdowns seven times this year, including in two of the past four games, Rodgers is jumping back up in the rankings.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Apologies to the largely left-for-dead Kyle Rudolph, but the Vikings’ offense basically has three weapons — Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Cook. Well, this week, Diggs is still banged up (he has a history of poor performances when on the injury report), while Thielen, who runs primarily out of the slot, draws a Seattle defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to slot receivers this year. Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ run defense has deteriorated over the year (4.14 yards per carry and 24.0 fantasy points per game to running backs before the bye, 5.43 and 29.4 since). Cook’s been inconsistent this season, but his highs have been very productive.
Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills
Saying a player leads his team in something is meaningful, but context helps a lot. For example, Jones leads Bills receivers in slot routes, and from that you glean information. But here’s more: He has run 218 slot routes and been targeted 32 times. In second place for the team? Ray-Ray McCloud’s 51 routes and Isaiah McKenzie’s 6 targets. Jones leads by a lot. Well, this week the Bills draw the Jets, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers this year. Jones is the No. 10 fantasy receiver across his last three active weeks despite being complete shut out by the Jaguars in Week 12, set a career-high in yards the last time he faced the Jets, and has two touchdowns in three career games against them (with the other game being his career debut).
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
The loss of Chris Harris Jr. is a significant loss for the Broncos — he’s the No. 5-graded qualified cornerback this year, at 86.0, and has three seasons of 90-plus grades in his career. Doing most of his work out of the slot, Harris was a unique weapon as well. The 49ers don’t really have a slot wide receiver — Trent Taylor does the most work there among the wide receivers, but he’s scarcely relevant. The 49er with the most slot targets this year is actually Kittle, who has 144 yards and a touchdown on 26 slot targets this year. Only Eric Ebron has more targets among tight ends than Kittle’s 20 the past two weeks, and without Harris, the matchup is that much better.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
I wrote up Tom Brady in this space last week, and I’m writing Wilson here this week for the exact same reason. The Vikings have been dominant against opposing quarterbacks since Week 5, allowing 11.1 fantasy points per game to the position (despite facing Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Mitchell Trubisky, Matthew Stafford … and Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold), a number that would be easily the best in the league over a full season. Yes, Weeks 1-5 matter, but there’s no hotter defense right now. As good as Wilson has been, I’m steering clear.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Edwards has 315 yards over the past three weeks (fifth in the league). He’s topped 100 yards twice and has fifty more carries than the No. 2 on the Ravens in that time. This week, he faces a Chiefs team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and just had Jalen Richard and Doug Martin both put up productive days. So why is Edwards down here in the down side? Because running the ball is all he does. In that three-game stretch, he has a grand total of zero targets, and only has one across the full season. He has scored just once, with Lamar Jackson doing the ball-carrying near the end zone. If you want someone who will give you 7-10 points, sure, whatever, Edwards is fine. But he has by far the lowest ceiling of any heavy-usage back out there, and even that assumes Kenneth Dixon doesn’t seize much of the job.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Gripe time! I’ve complained about my primary fantasy team all season, because I’ve lost a heavy dose of games in the last five minutes of Monday games all season long. I got a sympathetic message Monday night from leaguemates I never talk to when Golden Tate’s last catch gave me a one-point loss and knocked me out of the playoffs. All I would have needed to make the playoffs, in retrospect, is Julio Jones to get to 30 dang receiving yards total. But he faced the Ravens. When Jimmy Smith was suspended for Weeks 1-4, the Ravens allowed 35.3 PPR points per game to receivers — good, but nothing special. Since his return, that number is 25.6, best in the league by more than three full points. The Chiefs’ offense should be fine, but I’m avoiding Hill like the plague this week.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper saw 10-plus targets three times in a five-game stretch in Weeks 5-10. Since then, the numbers have dipped a little — 7, 5 and 6 targets in three games. That’s still good (seventh among tight ends in that time), but facing a Packers team that has allowed one touchdown to tight ends all year, you probably want more quantity from Hooper to offset the reduced quality he’s likely to offer.
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