From a fantasy lens, dozens and dozens of players being sidelined is already greatly impacting the depth of your league and roster. Starting stars is as justifiable as ever, but I am still here to take a flamethrower to your optimism on a weekly basis, highlighting a handful of upcoming fantasy busts for the forthcoming slate of games. Let me be clear - I like fun, I prefer to focus on positives and, most of all, do not hate any of these players. I simply believe they will perform below their normal output.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan vs Bucs (-6.5)
Total: 48.5 | 46% Started
Matt Ryan has failed to post 14 or more fantasy points in the last four games, yet he was still started in 46% of Yahoo Leagues in Week 14. There is a small chance that anyone in the final four of their league is considering starting Ryan, but allow me to hammer home how poor of a play he is this week. First, Julio Jones is out of this contest. The Falcons’ per drive touchdown rate drops by 9.6% without Julio on the field. While the Bucs defense went into their Week 13 bye on a decline, the unit flipped back to their impressive ways against a high variance Vikings pass attack last week - dropping Kirk Cousins’ yards per attempt 2.1 yards below average. Right tackle Kaleb McGary has been in and out of the lineup, as has LG James Carpenter - with both drawing questionable tags for this contest. Todd Bowles will be very willing to leave his athletic cornerbacks matched up against the Falcons’ tertiary options at receiver while confusing the Falcons’ front five blockers with different looks.
Finally, even with a healthy Julio Jones and Todd Gurley this season, the Falcons rank last in the NFL in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. That the Falcons have a +6 point differential through 14 weeks considering they are awful in the most important area of the field remains one of the league’s biggest mysteries.
Texans RB David Johnson at Colts (-7.5)
Total: 51 | 35% Started
Duke Johnson is uncertain to play on Sunday, so it is understandable if you must rely on David Johnson for volume purposes. The RB streets become more barren on a weekly basis. However, the Texans’ OL vs the Colts’ DL. Tackles Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard are coming off arguably their worst performances of the season. For some reason Texans’ coaches still want to rotate second-year G Max Scharping in, who registered a pass block score of 3.1 last week, according to PFF. That is the lowest I’ve ever seen.
DeForest Buckner is listed as questionable to play after being held out of Friday’s practice - we know he is a deciding factor in this front. With Buckner? It would be shocking for Johnson to hit RB2 value unless he falls into a touchdown. Without Buckner, Johnson has a better chance of reaching the Texans’ average of 91 backfield yards per game … last in the NFL.
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Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb vs 49ers (-3)
Total: 45 | 28% Started
In the opening five games of his career, Lamb averaged 11.32 fantasy points per game. Since? 5.94 per game over the course of eight contests. Even without Nick Bosa, this 49ers defensive front has a chance to totally overwhelm the entire Cowboys’ offensive - completely crippling the floor and ceiling of every skill position player. Go and start Amari Cooper, but I am terrified of every other Dallas Cowboy. Lamb’s best chance of success is converting an endzone target, of which he has four from Andy Dalton - but the 49ers are the best in the league at preventing touchdowns in red zone opportunities.