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Kyle Hess/Atlanta Falcons

Week 14 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”

Be sure to check out our Week 14 rankings or get an expanded explanation for any start/sit decision with Fantasy Consigliere. Those still reading are likely in the fantasy playoffs, so good luck to everyone over the next three or four weeks!




Thumbs Up of the Week: Matt Ryan (v CAR)

It sounds like the Falcons are going to have the entire offense healthy on Sunday, so Ryan—currently ranked as a midrange QB2 by most—is being severely undervalued to start the fantasy playoffs. Including a 29-3 victory last month, Matty Ice is averaging 318.9 passing yards per game with a 15:3 touchdown-interception ratio over the past seven matchups against Carolina. Make sure you get Ryan in lineups as a definite QB1.


Thumbs Up: Carson Wentz (v NYG)

Despite a loss, Wentz was finally able to snap his five-game streak of not throwing multiple touchdowns last week in Miami, and he should be able to stay hot on Monday night against a Giants defense that’s allowed 20.5+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in nine-of-12 games this year. Since Jordan Howard (shoulder) went down in Week 9, the Eagles have thrown it 43.7 times per game, and New York doesn’t have the personnel to stop Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and the rest of Philly’s weapons.


Thumbs Up: Tom Brady (v KC)

Things were not looking good for Brady last week before the Patriots went into comeback mode in the fourth quarter, but following a loss, I expect New England to be laser-focused for a huge game against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Last season, Brady threw for 340+ yards in both matchups—including a playoff rematch at Arrowhead Stadium—and getting James White re-involved could be the spark that was needed to lift the entire offense down the stretch. I have Brady as a top-ten play for Week 14.


Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (v BAL)

The overall QB5 heading into the fantasy playoffs, Allen has basically been too good to bench with 16+ fantasy points in every full game he’s played in, and a matchup against the Ravens (fourth-fewest points per game allowed to the position) shouldn’t dissuade you from keeping him in lineups after strong outings versus Denver and Dallas. It’s important to note that Allen has run the ball more frequently (and efficiently) since the offense increased the tempo three weeks ago, and his 8:3 touchdown-interception ratio against the blitz should allow the 23-year-old to handle any pressure Baltimore throws at him in what could be a highlight-filled game.


Others: Jared Goff (v SEA), Ryan Fitzpatrick (@ NYJ)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Drew Brees (v SF)

Brees should play well on Sunday in a crucial NFC clash, but with emerging streamers like Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick having better matchups, it might be wise to look at alternatives ahead of a potential slugfest against San Francisco. While the Niners have slipped a bit by allowing QB1 finishes in two of the past three weeks, it was due to rushing production more than anything else, as both Kyler Murray (26.7 fantasy points) and Lamar Jackson (22.3 fantasy points) were held to 150 or fewer passing yards. I’d consider Brees a borderline top-20 option.


Thumbs Down: Gardner Minshew (v LAC)

Minshew being so low in the rankings (QB29) feels odd, but Jacksonville hasn’t been the same team since the start of November, as they are 0-4 with every loss being at least a three-possession game. Pass protection breaking down is the main issue on offense right now, and Minshew’s pocket movement probably won’t be enough to consistently escape Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. I would wait until the final three weeks (@ OAK, @ ATL, v IND) before rolling with the rookie.


Thumbs Down: Mitchell Trubisky (v DAL)

A 24-20 victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving was perhaps the best offensive performance of the season for Chicago, but Trubisky has always played well against Matt Patricia’s defense, and the Cowboys will present a tougher challenge in primetime. Against teams other than the Lions this season, Trubisky has thrown just seven touchdowns in nine games, and the rushing volume hasn’t been there in 2019. You can probably do better for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.


Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (v DET)

Detroit and Minnesota combined for 72 points in their first meeting this season, but that was obviously with Matthew Stafford (back) under center to boost the Lions, so I’m not sure the Vikings—a run-first team whether or not Dalvin Cook (chest) is healthy—will be throwing the ball all over the place in a game they should handle at home. Cousins is ranked as the QB9 by most of the industry, but I have him as more of a high-end QB2 and would rather start all the featured “Thumbs Up” options.


Others: Jacoby Brissett (@ TB), Kyler Murray (v PIT)


Running Back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Devonta Freeman (v CAR)

Even before losing Dontari Poe (quad) for the season, Carolina had arguably the worst run defense in the league, and they were exposed even more last week in the first game without their 350-pound defensive tackle—allowing 26 carries for 242 yards and three touchdowns last week to Redskins runners. Backup Brian Hill was unable to take advantage of this matchup last month, but Freeman saw 21 touches in his return to the lineup and could be primed for a big day the Atlanta offense looks to finish 2019 on a high note.


Thumbs Up: Marlon Mack (@ TB)

The Colts have dropped two division games in a row without Mack (hand) in the lineup, but it sounds like he could return in Week 14, and fantasy owners shouldn’t hesitate to start him as a low-end RB2 option. While the Buccaneers have the NFL’s second-best run defense in terms of yards per game allowed, yards per carry allowed, and fantasy points allowed, they haven’t been impenetrable, especially against teams that stay committed to the run; in five games versus the Saints (twice) Seahawks, 49ers, and Titans, Tampa Bay has combined to allow 4.3 yards per carry.


Thumbs Up: Kareem Hunt (v CIN)

Of course, everyone with Nick Chubb is starting him as an elite RB1 play, but I think there will continue to be enough work for Hunt to return at least low-end RB2/FLEX value again. The workload—11.3 touches per game—falls pretty much in line with what was expected out of Hunt, and the receiving work in particular has given him unquestioned standalone value. Fantasy owners get a unique combination of floor (because of his role) and upside (because of his talent in that role) with Hunt in the lineup.


Thumbs Up: Alexander Mattison (v DET)

Dalvin Cook (shoulder) has insisted that he will suit up in Week 14, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team is “not going to play a guy that’s hurt,” which clouds his status for a very winnable game versus Detroit. Even if Cook does end up starting, Mattison should have an expanded role, including in the second half with Minnesota likely icing a contest which they are favored by two touchdowns in. As things currently stand, the rookie is an excellent DFS play and will shoot into the RB1 ranks if Cook is out.


Others: Sony Michel (v KC), Darwin Thompson (@ NE)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Tevin Coleman (@ NO)

Last week’s rainy game against the Ravens seemed like a spot where Coleman’s speed would be able to rip off chunk yardage on a sloppy track, but it was Raheem Mostert that surprisingly led the backfield with a career day. Now, Coleman will be in a full-blown committee with Mostert getting touches and Matt Breida (ankle) returning, so this has become a backfield to avoid. Fortunately, a pivotal game against the 10-2 Saints should provide clarity for the final three weeks.


Thumbs Down: Devin Singletary (v BAL)

Those that missed on Singletary last week (you probably aren’t included in that group if you’re a Fantasy Consigliere member) seem to be overcompensating ahead of a tougher matchup in Week 14, but the position is strong enough that he should be ranked as a low-end RB2/FLEX play to start the fantasy playoffs. Baltimore is no longer the run-stuffing front that everyone should fear, but they have still been stout at times, and aside from the trick play touchdown on Thanksgiving, Singletary’s receiving numbers have declined over the past month. I wouldn’t expect the rookie to repeat what Raheem Mostert just did.


Thumbs Down: Ronald Jones II (v IND)

Jones has been one of the most frustrating players to own this season because of inconsistent usage, but a Week 13 benching for missing a blitz pickup might doom his RB2 chances in Bruce Arians’ offense the rest of the way. Despite showing well as a receiver, Tampa Bay’s head coach won’t play the second-year back if he can’t trust him to protect Jameis Winston, so Jones has become a one-dimensional FLEX that’s splitting work with Peyton Barber. Look elsewhere if possible.


Thumbs Down: Bo Scarbrough (@ MIN)

Scarbrough has yet to play more than 50% of the Detroit’s offensive snaps in three appearances, but when he’s in the game, there have been better than even odds of the Alabama product getting the ball (53 carries on 104 snaps). That said, the past three losses for the Lions have been by one possession, and Minnesota—determined to bounce back from a loss and stop the run after what Seattle did on Monday night—will want to change that. Scarbrough’s goal-line role makes him a decent flier, but he could easily have a 12-carry, 28-yard day.


Others: David Johnson (v PIT), Patrick Laird (@ NYJ)


Wide Receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Julio Jones (v CAR)

I didn’t plan on having all Falcons as my “Thumbs up of the Week” options, but there are enough people that have expressed concern about Jones (shoulder) to put him here and make it a clean sweep. Even though Julio has played decoy in the past, I highly doubt that will be the case with Atlanta sitting at 3-9, so he needs to be in lineups as a top-five option against a team that just fired their head coach (the defensive-minded Ron Rivera) and has been shredded by opposing wideouts.


Thumbs Up: Mike Williams (@ JAX)

After ten receiving touchdowns on just 66 targets last season, Williams—despite increasing his yards-per-catch average to 20.5—has zero touchdowns on 69 targets in 2019. The talented 24-year-old still isn’t getting enough balls in his direction, but touchdowns are sure to come soon, and I like his chances this weekend in Jacksonville. Ranked outside the top 40 at the position for most, Williams is my WR29 for Week 14.


Thumbs Up: Sterling Shepard (@ PHI)

A concussion that sidelined Shepard for multiple weeks limited his practice time to build chemistry with Daniel Jones (ankle), but with Eli Manning likely back under center for the injured rookie, New York’s offense may be able to operate more efficiently against an attackable Philadelphia secondary. In six career matchups, Shepard has averaged 5.8 receptions, 76.2 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns for the Giants in this NFC East rivalry.


Thumbs Up: Robby Anderson (v MIA)

Alshon Jeffery was an obvious breakout candidate in Week 13, and Anderson should be primed for a big game against a Miami defense that’s struggled to contain No. 1 receivers on the perimeter. Over the past three weeks in particular, the Dolphins have been shredded by John Brown (9/137/2), Odell Beckham Jr. (6/84/1), and Jeffery (9/137/1); and Anderson is heating up at the right time coming off his second 100-yard game of the year.


Others: Will Fuller (v DEN), Deebo Samuel (@ NO)


Thumbs Down of the Week: Kenny Golladay (@ MIN)

I know plenty of fantasy owners are upset about being left out of the Golladay party to kickoff Thanksgiving, but you can’t chase a ghost from last week with fantasy playoffs now underway. In the first meeting against Minnesota, Golladay was limited to one reception for 21 yards (with Matthew Stafford under center), and for his career, the big-bodied wideout has averaged 46.5 yards per game and has yet to find the end zone in this matchup. Disappointment could be coming if expectations aren’t held in check.


Thumbs Down: D.K. Metcalf (@ LAR)

Metcalf is the most likely candidate to draw coverage from Jalen Ramsey this weekend, and while the rookie has become a bigger offensive factor with 70+ yards in three of the past four games, this is certainly a matchup to avoid. Although he hasn’t quite lived up to lofty expectations so far in Los Angeles, Ramsey has the size, length, and athleticism to erase Metcalf on the outside.


Thumbs Down: Terry McLaurin (@ GB)

We know the upside is there for McLaurin after what he did to start the season, but his production has dropped off a cliff with Dwayne Haskins under center, as the rookie is on a 51/635/0 pace over the past six games. Facing off with Jaire Alexander in a chilly game at Lambeau Field doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, and McLaurin may need a deep ball and/or touchdown to be worth a start.


Thumbs Down: Marquise Brown (@ BUF)

The third rookie receiver in a row to close out the article, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown will be far from home this weekend for a trip to Buffalo, and Tre’Davious White won’t have a warm welcome for the Florida native. Brown will bring his usual weekly upside in Baltimore’s diverse offense, but he’s been held below 50 yards in every game that he’s not gone for at least 80 yards (which he’s done three times)—and I think Sunday will be closer to the former. Keep the first-round pick on the bench before potentially unleashing him next week against the Jets.


Others: Jamison Crowder (v MIA), Marvin Jones (@ MIN)


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