Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (@ CHI)
In two primetime games this season, Jared Goff has been phenomenal, throwing for a combined 878 yards, nine touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Vikings and Chiefs. Shootouts have helped lead to the big-time numbers for Goff, but I also think Sean McVay likes to showcase the passing game in front of a national audience, and that should remain the case this week in Chicago because the Bears—despite allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks—are better attacked through the air than on the ground. LA’s triggerman remains a top-five play for me.
Thumbs Up: Matt Ryan (@ GB)
Green Bay has promising young players in the secondary, but overall, injuries have hit the defense, which could have a difficult time stopping Matt Ryan and the Falcons this weekend. Over their past four meetings (including playoffs), Atlanta has scored a whopping 37.0 points per game against the Packers, and Ryan has thrown for 326.8 yards per game with a 12:1 touchdown-interception ratio in that span. The Falcons probably won’t be headed back to the postseason in 2018, but Matty Ice can hopefully bring some fantasy championships home.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (v PIT)
The pass-catchers for Oakland have started to re-emerge after things were looking very shaky due to injuries, as Jordy Nelson (10/97), Marcell Ateman (2/16/1), and Jared Cook (7/100/1) all made an impact last week in a 40-33 loss to the Chiefs. We could see another shootout in Week 14 with the Steelers heading west, and Carr quietly has not thrown an interception since Week 5—a sign of added confidence and comfort in Jon Gruden’s system. I think the 27-year-old is a top-20 option and a strong streamer in two-quarterback leagues.
Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (v NYJ)
I guess all it took was gaudy fantasy numbers for people to not unjustly criticize Josh Allen anymore, which unfortunately isn’t a surprise considering most “experts” pay attention to box scores—particularly completion percentage in regards to Allen as an NFL prospect—instead of actually watching games. Buffalo’s franchise quarterback has put up video-game rushing lines of 13/99/1 and 9/135 over the past two weeks, and his arm talent (which includes accuracy) has been on full display, too. Now, he gets a Jets defense that allowed 41 points to the Bills when Matt Barkley started in Week 10, and New York hasn’t contained running quarterbacks this season. The floor is low surrounded by a sub-par supporting cast, but Allen’s upside is undeniable.
Others: Philip Rivers (v CIN), Joe Flacco (@ KC)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Carson Wentz (@ DAL)
Carson Wentz was able to throw for 360 yards and two touchdowns last month against the Cowboys, but similar to what we saw last week for Colts-Jaguars (a 6-0 game after they combined for 55 points in their first meeting), I expect more of a defensive battle this time around. Plus, not only has Dallas had a few extra days to prepare, but they should also be confident following a dominant performance against the Saints, and this game will be played at AT&T Stadium. Wentz is just a low-end QB2 to start the fantasy playoffs.
Thumbs Down: Russell Wilson (v MIN)
I still have Russell Wilson as a borderline QB1 option for Week 14, but fantasy owners should temper expectations against the Vikings, who have allowed just 9.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the past seven games, which included matchups against Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady. Even in a home primetime spot, if Wilson doesn’t put up rushing numbers—and he has yet to find the end zone on the ground—his eight-game streak with 18+ fantasy points will be in serious jeopardy.
Thumbs Down: Marcus Mariota (v JAX)
As a team and from a real-life perspective, the Titans and Marcus Mariota have been great against Jacksonville over the past couple years. However, Tennessee’s 3-0 record hasn’t led to much fantasy success for Mariota, who has averaged 12.2 fantasy points per game during that span, and we just saw the Jags shutout a white-hot Andrew Luck. It’s worth noting that running quarterbacks have been a challenge for Jacksonville, but I wouldn’t feel good about streaming Mariota on a short week.
Thumbs Down: Lamar Jackson (@ KC)
Ignore this and get Lamar Jackson in lineups as a high-floor, high-upside QB1 if Joe Flacco (hip) is out another week, but I think Baltimore is hoping the former Super Bowl MVP returns to lead a split at quarterback, as a run-heavy offense centered around Jackson could quickly become ineffective in Kansas City against a high-octane attack. If he shares snaps, Jackson will probably need a big play and/or rushing score to return fantasy value, so I think Flacco would be the better bet in fantasy lineups.
Others: Matthew Stafford (@ ARI), Nick Mullens (v DEN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Joe Mixon (@ LAC)
In ten healthy outings this season, Joe Mixon has averaged 13.7 standard fantasy points per game, which would slot in as the overall RB9 on the year. But still, despite establishing himself as a high-floor RB1 option with at least 8.5 fantasy points in all but one game, Mixon is being viewed as an RB2—or even a FLEX option—against the Chargers, who have allowed six touchdowns to opposing runners over the past three weeks. Cincinnati’s offensive centerpiece is my No. 7 backfield option for Week 14.
Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (@ GB)
The past two weeks haven’t been kind to Tevin Coleman, as he’s rushed 14 times for 14 yards, dipping his yards-per-carry average to 4.0 this season. That said, fantasy owners would be unwise to abandon ship on the explosive slasher after struggling against two of the league’s best run defenses, and the Falcons have been at their best offensively when Coleman has been featured. This week, Green Bay isn’t an imposing matchup, and Atlanta’s starter needs to be treated as a high-upside RB2 rather than the borderline top-30 option many have him ranked as.
Thumbs Up: Justin Jackson (v CIN)
I expected Justin Jackson to have success if given an extended opportunity with Melvin Gordon (knee) out, but it was a little surprising to see him overtake Austin Ekeler so quickly against an underrated Pittsburgh front. The rookie is a smooth runner with good patience, and I think we can expect him to handle at least 12-15 carries against the Bengals—who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backs this season—while Ekeler (18 touches for just 43 yards last week) shifts back into a change-of-pace role. Jackson is trending towards low-end RB2 status.
Thumbs Up: Jaylen Samuels (@ OAK)
Jaylen Samuels has just 19 professional touches and was used as a Swiss Army knife at NC State, but the track record of RB1 production in Pittsburgh this decade with Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, and a 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams all putting up big-time numbers should make him less of a mystery. Stevan Ridley could make this an even timeshare, but Samuels is the better receiver for what I expect to be an aerial attack in Oakland. The rookie might even carry tight end eligibility in some leagues, so get him in lineups as a strong RB2 or elite TE1.
Others: Derrick Henry (v JAX), Corey Clement (@ DAL)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jeff Wilson (v DEN)
There are a few running backs that have come out of nowhere to be potential factors in the fantasy playoffs, but for this week, Jeff Wilson gets the toughest draw, as Denver has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry and zero touchdowns over the past six games. The running game will be key in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which makes Wilson a FLEX play, but I think he probably needs a touchdown to meet some lofty projections in Week 14.
Thumbs Down: Adrian Peterson (@ NYG)
A 90-yard touchdown saved Adrian Peterson’s night and probably got some fantasy owners in the playoffs on Monday, but the future Hall of Fame running back will now be extremely reliant on big plays and scores the rest of the way, as he will consistently see stacked boxes behind an injury-ravaged offensive line with Mark Sanchez under center. Before the long touchdown run boosted his stats to start December, AD had averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in four November games. Even in a good spot against the Giants, Peterson is a low-floor FLEX.
Thumbs Down: Gus Edwards (@ KC)
Whether or not Lamar Jackson starts this week, Gus Edwards needs to be downgraded from a RB1/RB2 in standard leagues to low-end RB2 territory, as Kansas City could put up points in a hurry at Arrowhead Stadium and force Baltimore to abandon the inside running game. Also, Edwards has almost zero involvement as a receiver, so fantasy owners stacked at running back might want to jump off the bandwagon for this week, especially with Kenneth Dixon returning last week to handle more work than expected.
Thumbs Down: Isaiah Crowell (@ BUF)
People were warned to sell Isaiah Crowell after his 219-yard performance to start October, and the 25-year-old was basically off the map until he turned 25 touches into 107 yards last week. That came against a Tennessee defense that has fallen apart, though, and Crowell remains just a volatile FLEX option that has 98+ yards in three games and less than 50 yards in his nine other outings. Look elsewhere for the fantasy playoffs.
Others: Theo Riddick (@ ARI), Dion Lewis (v JAX)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (v NO)
A 5/101/1 line for Chris Godwin last week coincided with DeSean Jackson (thumb) being inactive for the Buccaneers, and if that continues, the second-year wideout needs to be added in all leagues as a potential difference-maker over the next four weeks. On Sunday, Godwin will mostly match up with struggling corner Eli Apple, and he should be an excellent low-end WR2/FLEX option for what could turn into a shootout.
Thumbs Up: Jarvis Landry (v CAR)
Coming off his first 100-yard game since Baker Mayfield became the starter for Cleveland, Jarvis Landry will look to finish strong in what has been a disappointing season for a guy that put up lines of 110/1,157/4, 94/1,136/4, and 112/987/9 with Adam Gase in Miami. Landry really needs a big day to pickup his season-long pace of 88/977/3, but he gets a good matchup against veteran slot corner Captain Munnerlyn this weekend, and I think Panthers-Browns could turn into a high-scoring affair.
Thumbs Up: Calvin Ridley (@ GB)
Inconsistencies have started to show for Calvin Ridley over the past few games, but I think he will be a big part of the Atlanta offense getting back on track this week in Green Bay. As stated, Matt Ryan has had a ton of success against the Packers, and Ridley would have a clear advantage over everyone other than Jaire Alexander, who is expected to get the unenviable task of covering Julio Jones. Green Bay has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts, so Ridley is a top-24 play for me.
Thumbs Up: John Brown (@ KC)
If Joe Flacco is back this week and starts, then John Brown will be worth considering as a high-upside FLEX option in all leagues. When Flacco was the starter, “Smokey” averaged 9.3 standard fantasy points per game as a top-20 option at the position (compared to just 1.6 fantasy points per game in Jackson’s starts), and a downfield passing attack is probably needed to go on the road and upset the Chiefs. Plus, for what it’s worth, Brown gets one of the easiest schedules imaginable for the fantasy playoffs (@ KC, v TB, @ LAC, v CLE).
Others: Allen Robinson (v LAR), Courtland Sutton (@ SF)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Mike Evans (v NO)
I know people are optimistic about Mike Evans as a WR1 after he got the better of Marshon Lattimore and the Saints in the opener by catching seven passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, but a lot has changed since then. Most importantly, Lattimore has played with a re-gained focus/edge following a poor start to the year, and he was completely dominant against Evans last season (six receptions for 68 yards in two matchups). Also, the Bucs aren’t going to catch New Orleans by surprise with an air-raid attack in the rematch. Evans is a low-end WR2 for Week 14.
Thumbs Down: Kenny Golladay (@ ARI)
The Cardinals haven’t been a shy-away matchup for No. 1 wideouts like in previous years due to Steve Wilks’ defense limiting Patrick to mostly zone coverage on the boundary, but it would make sense for Arizona to let Peterson at least play whichever side of the formation Kenny Golladay is on this week, as Detroit is very thin at receiver. He remains a low-end WR2/FLEX play based on volume (10.8 targets per game over the past four weeks), but Golladay carries more risk than usual this week.
Thumbs Down: Corey Davis (v JAX)
Corey Davis was limited to just two receptions for 34 yards in Week 3 against the Jaguars, and I’m not sure what changed that he is suddenly viewed as a strong FLEX option against them on a Thursday night. Dating back to last year, Davis has combined for three receptions and 38 yards in three meetings. Perhaps the nature of a TNF game where anything can happen will allow Tennessee’s top target to finally breakout against his division foe, but I’m avoiding him after Jacksonville’s defensive performance in Week 13.
Thumbs Down: Doug Baldwin (v MIN)
A sizable role in scoring territory and chemistry with Russell Wilson is a recipe for success in any given week, but Doug Baldwin has been impacted by injuries in his age-30 campaign, leading to just two touchdowns and zero 100-yard games. The Vikings have returned to dominant form in the secondary, and that’s been partly due to the emergence of 2016 second-round pick Mackenzie Alexander in the slot. Baldwin isn’t a recommended play after Minnesota just allowed more yards on the ground (35) than through the air (25) to Julian Edelman.
Others: Tyler Lockett (v MIN), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (v ATL)
Thumbs Up of the Week: David Njoku (v CAR)
The inconsistent production of David Njoku has been very frustrating this year, but injuries at tight end have made the position a weekly toss up if you don’t have Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or George Kittle, so fantasy owners might as well roll with one of the best young talents in the league. Carolina has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so Njoku is my No. 5 play for Week 14.
Thumbs Up: Trey Burton (v LAR)
Trey Burton has been held to just 2.7 standard fantasy points per game since a breakout 9/126/1 line back in Week 6, but the Rams are a prime opponent to get back on track, as they have allowed 75.2 yards per game and four scores to opposing tight ends over the past six games. In what could turn into a shootout, Burton could reward those who stick with him on Sunday night.
Thumbs Up: Ian Thomas (@ CLE)
Cleveland started the season better than expected against opposing tight ends, but they have allowed 12.8 standard fantasy points per game over the past four weeks. While Ian Thomas is still raw, he will be forced to step up for Greg Olsen (foot, IR) the rest of the way, and perhaps getting starts earlier in the year will have the rookie more prepared to make an impact. I have Thomas as a top-15 option this week.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jordan Reed (v NYG)
Now down to their third-string quarterback in Mark Sanchez, the Redskins are likely going to struggle moving the ball no matter who they face as they look to somehow win the NFC East. New York held Jordan Reed to just 38 scoreless yards on 12 targets back in October, and I doubt he sees that many looks this weekend. Reed is just off the TE1 map for me.
Thumbs Down: Cameron Brate (v NO)
New Orleans has shutdown basically every tight end they have faced this season, including Zach Ertz (2/15), David Njoku (4/20), Kyle Rudolph (4/39), and the aforementioned Jordan Reed (1/21). A connection with Jameis Winston could get Cameron Brate into the end zone, but I think fantasy owners should wait until Week 15 to get the Harvard grad in lineups.
Thumbs Down: Benjamin Watson (@ TB)
Dan Arnold has taken over as the main receiving option at tight end in Sean Payton’s offense, so Benjamin Watson needs to be downgraded from a decent TE2 option to the edge of the rankings barring sudden changes. You probably need a touchdown from the 37-year-old, who wasn’t targeted in last week’s loss.