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The Fantasy Blueprint

The Fantasy Blueprint: A Week 14 Preview

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: December 11, 2020, 9:23 pm ET

Posted Thursday and updated Friday evening, “The Fantasy Blueprint” will get you the stats and information that actually matter for fantasy football, and it will be produced in a way that doesn’t waste our time. If you don't know what "Fantasy Usage" is, read this. If you want my best bets, they’ll be at the top on Friday night. If you need live Vegas odds, go here. If you simply just want my weekly rankings, subscribe here for $3.99 per month and use promo code WINKS10 for 10% off. If you have other questions, reach out on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).


1. Packers (31.5 points, -7.5 spread) @ DET

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The Packers’ passing offense is in an eruption spot. Already 30th in passing EPA defense, the Lions are without CB Desmond Trufant (IR) and potentially CB Jeff Okudah. Detroit simply doesn’t have the personnel to execute their man coverage defense, and they’re 27th in adjusted sack rate. Aaron Rodgers is first in passer rating in clear pockets and deserves fantasy QB1 overall consideration as he campaigns for MVP votes. … Davante Adams is the WR1 overall for reasons you already know about. Allen Lazard (WR73 fantasy usage) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR88) are distant options in clearly defined roles. 40% of MVS’s targets travel 20 or more air yards downfield, the highest rate in the NFL. His 101 air yards per game over the last month ranks 15th, but he’s solely big-play dependent. The matchup increases his odds of hitting as a WR4/5. Lazard has a higher floor than MVS and is a better fit in the red zone. The Lions are 24th against fantasy receivers. … Robert Tonyan is a regression beater attached to this explosive offense. He’s only the TE19 in fantasy usage over the last month but ranks fifth in PPR points over that span. Ignore the Lions’ No. 5 defense against the position. Tonyan is a touchdown-based TE1/2. … 

In healthy games with Adams, Aaron Jones is averaging 15.9 expected PPR points. I’d gladly take the over in fantasy’s best rushing matchup, particularly with DT Danny Shelton on injured reserve. Jones can make up for fewer raw carries with explosion and touchdown equity as a shoe-in RB1. Jamaal Williams has only seen RB48 fantasy usage over the last month but could flirt with RB3 production in garbage time. The Packers are 7.5-point favorites, which feels low.

Updated Friday: The Lions ruled out CB Jeff Okudah and have CB Desmond Trufant on injured reserve. Good luck, Detroit.

 

 

2. Seahawks (30.25, -13.5) vs. NYJ

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Nobody should be confident in their predictions regarding the Let Russ Cook movement. After flirting with NFL-leading neutral pass rates through nine weeks, the Seahawks dipped to a sub-50% neutral pass rate in each game from Week 10 to Week 12, but the Seahawks had a 62% neutral pass rate last week. They’ve simply been all over the map. Against the Jets’ No. 31 passing EPA defense, it shouldn’t matter if Russell Wilson throws it 25 or 40 times. The Seahawks’ 30.25-point team total locks the slumping Russ into top five rankings. … An alpha regression breaker, DK Metcalf walks into a matchup that should help his odds of leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2020. He’s currently in first. The Jets have placed starting corners on injured reserve and out-right cut others. It’s a potential blow-up spot. Since injuring his knee in Week 11, Tyler Lockett is averaging just 6.9 yards per target. Not nice. He’s a rebound candidate given the matchup, but his floor is nonexistent with injury and overall volume working against him. Still, Lockett’s WR1 overall upside is too high to bench as a boom-bust WR2/3. … Jacob Hollister led Seattle tight ends in routes last week (31-of-56) over Will Dissly (23). The Jets have been the worst defense to tight ends this year, increasing Hollister’s chances of TE2 production. He’s been the TE34 in fantasy usage over the last month. … 

After one week of being eased in, Chris Carson re-emerged in Week 13 on 15.4 expected PPR points. As long as he avoids setbacks, Carson belongs on the RB1/2 border even with the Jets ranking better against the run (7th) than the pass (31st). Carson can get there with rushing yardage, receptions, or touchdowns. Carlos Hyde dropped to 5.2 expected PPR points as an insurance-only type.

 

 

3. Titans (30.0, -7.5) @ JAX

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The Titans are in a smash spot, especially through the air. Ryan Tannehill has the Titans third in passing EPA, and the Jaguars are 31st in passing EPA defense. Vegas rightfully projects the Titans for 30.0 points, the third most of the week. Tannehill is a quality QB1 against the No. 29 fantasy quarterback defense. … Both A.J. Brown (6th) and Corey Davis (8th) crack the top-10 in PPR points over expected based on their usage. They’ve been dominating in terms of efficiency, and now catch a light’s out matchup with Jaguars CBs C.J. Henderson and D.J. Hayden on injured reserve and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles) iffy to play. Because they play more Cover 1 man defense than anyone (49%), the Jaguars are exceedingly vulnerable to big plays right now. Brown has earned every-week WR1/2 status despite lower-than-wanted volume, while Davis enters the WR2/3 mix after a slow start to his career. Since Week 7, Davis actually has more expected PPR points per game (12.1) than Brown (11.5). They both benefit from Adam Humphries (concussion) going on injured reserve. …

Because of poor game script, Derrick Henry set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13. He’s an obvious RB1 rebound candidate as 7.5-point favorites. The Jaguars are 29th against fantasy running backs while allowing the fifth most carries per game (27.9). Henry (1,317 yards) is attempting to hold off Dalvin Cook (1,250) for the rushing title right now. ... 

Updated Friday: Jonnu Smith (knee) practiced fully and should return to the TE1/2 border. As the distant third target, Smith's production has been tied to touchdowns. Fortunately, Smith is averaging 1.3 red zone targets per game and the Titans are projected for the third most points of the week. With the Jaguars 22nd against the position, Smith is as good of a bet for a score as anyone outside of the top-five at tight end.

 

 

4. Bucs (29.0, -6.5) vs. MIN

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Despite an over examination of the offense, Tom Brady has the Bucs 12th in passing EPA and that could tick upwards following a much-needed bye week. The offense should be more polished out of the bye and catch a talentless Vikings Defense at home. Vegas projects Tampa Bay for 29 points, the fourth most of the week. Brady belongs on the QB1/2 border at the very worst with health, team total, matchup and beauty sleep on his side. … Both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have been utilized far closer to the line of scrimmage in 2020 (chart), which has left both of their ceilings tied to touchdowns. Evans has stabilized his WR1/2 standing on the second most inside-the-10 targets (14) and now ranks fifth in air yards per game (124) over the last month with the Bucs passing more often. Evans, the WR4 over this span, has at least 14.1 expected PPR points in all four games with Antonio Brown. Godwin (WR29 fantasy usage) and Brown (WR35) are in a tier below Evans as primary underneath targets with less touchdown equity, particularly Brown who is clearly the No. 4 red zone threat right now. … Rob Gronkowski is the TE13 over the last month while taking a slight dip in overall usage with Brown in the mix. Still, Gronk’s touchdown ceiling in an offense projected for 3-4 touchdowns locks him inside top-12 rankings. Cameron Brate ran 21 routes to Gronk’s 29 in the game before the bye. … 

Ronald Jones is third out of 66 running backs in yards after contact per attempt. Despite being an absolute disaster as a receiver, Jones has earned more work than the lumbering Leonard Fournette. Bruce Arians even said Jones “needs to have 20 touches”, something within the range of outcomes as 6.5-point home favorites. Jones’ floor remains low given his fumbling and receiving issues, but he’s an upside RB2. Fournette simply can’t be started. He’s underperformed his RB35 fantasy usage over the last month.

Updated Friday: The Vikings are missing LB Eric Kendricks (calf) who is arguably their best defender. He's awesome in coverage and more than holds his own as a run defender, too. 

 

Fantasy Rankings

Brady is my QB8 this week. Subscribe to Rotoworld EDGE+ here to unlock the rest of my personal weekly positional rankings (posted Wednesday) for only $3.99 per month. Use promo code: WINKS10 for 10% off.

 

 

5. Chiefs (28.5, -7.5) @ MIA

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The Chiefs passing offense (1st in EPA) versus the Dolphins passing defense (3rd) is the matchup of the week. Patrick Mahomes has historically done well against blitz-heavy defenses, but Miami is well coached and has enough outside cornerback talent to have a shot at slowing down this juggernaut. Still, Mahomes is impossible to keep outside of top-three fantasy rankings. The Chiefs are fifth in neutral pass rate over the last month (59%) and project for the fifth most points on the slate (28.5). … In addition to being an all-time efficiency outlier, Tyreek Hill is tied for first in targets per game over the last month (13.0) on a 30% target share. Outside CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are good, but Hill will dodge them on about half of his snaps by moving inside and he’s matchup proof anyways. Plus, for as good as these corners have been, the Dolphins only rank 16th against fantasy receivers. Sammy Watkins ran a route on 34-of-45 dropbacks in Week 13 and is the WR41 in fantasy usage since returning from injury. He’s played one more snap in the slot than he’s played outside in the last two weeks, so he’ll get the easiest cornerback matchup against Nik Needham. Notoriously volatile, Watkins always carries a massive ceiling weekly with a zero-burger floor. Demarcus Robinson ran more routes (30) than Mecole Hardman (15) last week as distant fourth and fifth targets in the offense. Robinson will be thrown to the wolves on the outside here. … Travis Kelce is on pace to break the NFL’s tight end single-season yardage record by 108 yards. He’s easily the TE1 overall every week, although this doesn’t profile as an easy path to a ceiling. The Dolphins are seventh against tight ends and the Chiefs’ team total is lower than normal. … 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire should walk back into his starting role after a week off (flu) because Le’Veon Bell simply doesn’t have much left in the tank (3.6 YPC). We’ve seen the Chiefs bail on a veteran signing (LeSean McCoy) in favor of the more explosive player at this point in the calendar. Against the No. 27 rushing EPA defense, Edwards-Helaire is a boom-bust RB2/3 with a multiple-touchdown ceiling and a nonexistent floor.

 

 

6. Colts (27.0, -2.5) @ LV

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Thanks to having a healthier receiver corps, Philip Rivers has the Colts up to No. 6 in passing EPA and his Week 14 matchup is a good one. The Raiders are 22nd in passing EPA defense and could be without first-rounders S Johnathan Abram and CB Damon Arnette. Rivers should be fine inside the pocket despite playing with a third-string left tackle but continues to lose short-yardage snaps to Jacoby Brissett. The veteran quarterback is a rock-solid QB2 with the Colts projected for 27 points, the sixth highest on the slate. … T.Y. Hilton set a new season high in expected PPR points in Week 13, looks healthier on tape, and is up to WR40 in fantasy usage over the last month. Despite a very slow start, Hilton is back on the flex radar in good matchups. The Raiders’ No. 20 defense against fantasy receivers qualifies. Michael Pittman has enough skills to make big plays, but his WR50 fantasy usage over the last four games has been forgettable. Last week, the rookie had just 16 air yards and his aDOT sits at a lowly 7.7 yards. Pittman has too much target competition to be trusted in 12-team formats. … Trey Burton has better fantasy usage over the last month (TE18) than Mo Alie-Cox (TE35), but the latter ran more routes in Week 13, 20 to 16. Both are touchdown reliant with their target shares sitting below 15%. … 

In his last two games, Jonathan Taylor has 11.2 and 17.9 expected PPR points. He’s easily the best bet for early-down touches after leading the backfield in Week 13 snaps -- Taylor (33), Hines (23), and Wilkins (13). Taylor’s matchup on the ground couldn’t be better with the Raiders ranking 31st in rushing EPA defense and 28th against fantasy backs. Taylor is a boom-bust RB2 with increasing odds of booming after stringing together positive performances. Nyheim Hines has 10.8 and 12.2 expected PPR points in his last two games with Taylor active as the clear-cut passing down back. His odds of riding the hot hand into a three-down workload are diminished with Taylor coming on. Hines is a PPR RB3 with game script working against him (2.5-point favorites). 

Updated Friday: Raiders CB Damon Arnette (concussion) and S Jeff Heath (concussion) are out. S Johnathan Abram is questionable after being limited in practice all week. He missed last week, and quite frankly doesn't make a difference in the pass game right now even when healthy. The matchup is ideal for the entire Colts Offense.

 

 

7. Saints (26.25, -7) @ PHI

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With Drew Brees (ribs) out of practice, Taysom Hill will draw his fourth start. He’s been the QB3 over that span with two positive outings against the Falcons’ below-average defense. Hill needs simple reads to be an effective passer, and like the Falcons, the Eagles are top-five in cover 1 man coverage usage (45%), which is an easier defense to diagnose for an inexperienced quarterback. Philly’s linebackers are also some of the worst in the NFL, increasing Hill’s chances of rushing production as a QB1/2. … Michael Thomas has a 37% target share over the last four weeks as the WR16 in fantasy usage. Being tied to Hill lowers Thomas’ floor, but Thomas is the first read on most of Hill’s dropbacks. There’s no reason to be worried about CB Darius Slay’s coverage. Thomas belongs on the WR1/2 border. Emmanuel Sanders, who is averaging 7.7 expected PPR points in games with Thomas, is off the radar. … The same can be said about Jared Cook despite his Week 13 touchdown. Cook is averaging just 5.1 expected PPR points with Hill compared to 8.0 with Brees. He’s been downgraded to TE2 territory. … 

Alvin Kamara is averaging 10.9 expected PPR points in starts with Hill. He’s being targeted less (2.0 per game) and is less of a priority near the goal-line with the Saints opting for more QB power. Kamara’s explosiveness and this above-average matchup are still enough to keep Kamara on the RB2 radar despite everything working against him right now. The Eagles have allowed the third most carries per game (28.0) and rank ninth against fantasy backs. Latavius Murray is a desperate RB3 play. His Week 12 outlier performance can be explained by the Broncos having no shot at winning. 

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8. Falcons (26.0, -2.5) @ LAC

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Matt Ryan’s fantasy value is elastic towards Julio Jones’ health. Over the last two years, Matt Ryan is averaging 21.9 PPR points in games with Jones compared to 15.1 without him. Right now, both Jones and Calvin Ridley are healthy, giving Ryan decent odds of QB1/2 production. Vegas projects the Falcons for 26 points, the eighth most of the week. In theory, Ryan’s ceiling is limited by the Chargers’ Cover 3 zone defense that protects the deep ball. … Julio Jones remains a certified baller. He’s fifth in PPR points over expected in healthy games and passed the eye test last week while battling a soft-tissue injury. His individual matchup against CB Casey Hayward isn’t as threatening as the name brand suggests, but the Chargers have allowed the fifth fewest pass attempts per game (35.2) on defense. Jones remains an every-week WR1. Calvin Ridley is leading the NFL in air yards per game this season (126) as Atlanta’s primary deep threat (14.4 aDOT). Against this three-deep zone defense, Ridley’s odds of connecting on deep targets are suppressed, but he’s seeing enough volume overall (WR15 fantasy usage) to be a WR1/2. Slot man Russell Gage is a bad NFL starter but is up to WR23 fantasy usage over the last month as a garbage-time eater. With the Falcons favored by 2.5 points, Gage shouldn’t be counted on. … Hayden Hurst’s usage dips when both receivers are healthy. In games that either Jones or Ridley missed, Hurst averages 10.2 expected PPR points. That drops to 7.6 with both healthy. Hurst is on the TE1/2 border in an okay on-paper matchup. The Chargers are 19th against the position. … 

Todd Gurley set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13 (8.8) and looks completely out of gas on tape. The Falcons mixed in Ito Smith on passing downs last week and have Brian Hill as a more one-to-one replacement on early downs if Gurley’s knee flares up. The veteran’s production has almost entirely been tied to touchdowns this year, leaving him floorless. The Falcons’ 26-point team total is the only reason to start Gurley as a RB3. ... 

Updated Friday: With Julio Jones ruled out, Matt Ryan's projection takes a moderate hit. Although some of this can be explained by opponent, Ryans' YPA has dropped from 8.2 to 6.1 in games without Jones this year. Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Hayden Hurst are very slight winners despite the overall dip in efficiency with their target projection increasing. For example, Hurst average 2.6 more expected PPR points in games when Jones or Ridley miss compared to when both are active. Hurst is a low-end TE1. Gage is a WR4/5.

 

 

9. Panthers (25.25, -3.5) vs. DEN

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There are a ton of injuries to monitor here. The Broncos will be without CBs AJ Bouye (suspended), Bryce Callahan (IR), and Essang Bassey (IR), leaving them primarily with corners who’ve played under 100 snaps this year. That’s excellent news for Teddy Bridgewater who has settled in as a weekly fantasy QB2/3 depending on matchups. With D.J. Moore (COVID-19) likely out, Bridgewater will be without a deep threat, however, lowering his already limited ceiling. The Panthers’ 25.25-point team total puts Bridgewater on the QB2 map as a floor-based play. … Robby Anderson is the primary winner of Moore’s expected absence, as Anderson’s aDOT (10.0) is best suited to replace Moore’s downfield role (12.5 aDOT). Anderson should have his way with second- and third-string corners as a quality WR2 play. Curtis Samuel also benefits with Moore out if only for a target share bump. Samuel has been properly utilized as a YAC stud on underneath routes with this coaching staff after a frustrating 2019 season as a sideline deep threat (chart). Already seeing WR36 fantasy usage over the last month, Samuel slides in as a WR3 assuming he clears COVID-19 protocols as a close contact. … 

Christian McCaffrey is expected back and immediately slides into top five fantasy rankings, if not higher. McCaffrey has 22.9, 22.6, and 28.0 expected PPR points in 3 healthy games. There’s nothing about the matchup to move his projection in either direction. The Broncos are 16th against fantasy backs. Mike Davis is a worthwhile hold in all redraft formats in case McCaffrey suffers a setback.

Updated Friday: Christian McCaffrey is out, vaulting Mike Davis back onto the RB1/2 border. Davis has averaged 15.7 PPR points on 19.1 expected PPR points in nine starts. With D.J. Moore also out, Davis should have an RB1 workload as home favorites. Hopefully his efficiency rebounds off the bye. I will be using him in DFS tournaments as leverage off chalky Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel.

 

 

10. Rams (25.25, -6) vs. NE

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After a slow start, the Rams are third in neutral pass rate over the last month (61%), but Thursday Night Football sets up to be less voluminous. The Patriots are allowing the third lowest neutral pass rate on defense and the fewest raw pass attempts per game (32.25), and McVay could be worried that Belichick gives Jared Goff hell again. The Rams are likely to be more balanced than normal, something Vegas seems to agree with given the Rams’ 25.25-point team total (10th). Goff is more of a QB2 than low-end QB1. … Robert Woods is fifth in targets per game over the last month (11.0) on a 28% target share, enough to be the WR10 in fantasy usage. Woods will see CB Stephon Gilmore in coverage but should get plenty of schemed touches to provide WR2/3 value even if the path to a ceiling is limited by the game environment. A similar case can be made for Cooper Kupp, who is the WR25 in fantasy usage over the last four weeks. He’s been a floor-based WR2 this season, reaching at least 10.0 PPR points in 9-of-12 games. Expect these two to handle most receiver targets with Goff checking down underneath even more this year. Van Jefferson (26 routes in Week 13) and Josh Reynolds (23) are competing for the No. 3 spot as the primary downfield targets. … Tyler Higbee is coming off his second best usage game of 2020 (11.4 expected PPR points) but continues splitting routes with Gerald Everett. They both ran 34-of-51 routes in Week 13. Higbee is the slightly better bet for TE2 production. The Patriots are fourth best against the position. … 

Cam Akers set a new season-high in fantasy usage (23.6 expected PPR points) in Week 13, in part because of Darrell Henderson’s first quarter knee issue. Still, Akers has earned more work with his play at the expense of Henderson, who is averaging 3.6 YPC since his Week 9 injury. Akers would be the beneficiary of the projected more balanced attack, and the Patriots’ No. 24 rushing EPA defense isn’t one to worry about much. Akers is a boom-bust RB2 play. Henderson and Malcolm Brown are best left on fantasy benches. Even Akers ran more routes last week (26) than Henderson (12) and Brown (10). 

 

 

11. Raiders (24.5, +2.5) vs. IND

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Despite the Raiders being ninth in passing EPA, Derek Carr has maxed out as a fantasy QB2 on bottom-10 volume. His ceiling is limited by Gruden’s balanced attack and Carr’s unwillingness to throw deep in non-hail mary situations. The Colts have allowed the fourth fewest pass attempts per game (34.0) and rank sixth against fantasy quarterbacks. … Nelson Agholor is a buy-low candidate on usage after mostly coming up empty on a season-high 20.7 expected PPR points and 215 air yards, but he’s a poor schematic fit against the Colts’ league-leading Cover 2 zone usage that typically forces passes underneath. Agholor is nothing more than a WR5. A similar story can be told about Henry Ruggs, although I’m more willing to bite the bullet on Ruggs’ mouthwatering speed. His 18.5 aDOT makes him highly volatile. Slot man Hunter Renfrow is the best schematic fit against the Colts Defense, but he’s a low-ceiling player who’s averaging just 39 air yards per game on WR74 fantasy usage. … In a positional wasteland, it’s Travis Kelce, then Darren Waller, then everyone else. This matchup featuring two slow-paced offenses doesn’t profile as a ceiling game, however. The Colts’ athletic linebackers have limited tight ends to the second fewest fantasy points, which checks out schematically given that this Cover 2 zone defense does very well over the middle. That still isn’t enough to knock Waller out of TE2 overall. … 

Updated Friday: Josh Jacobs (ankle) is questionable after two-straight days of limited practices. It's unclear if he'll gut through this injury. If active, Jacobs is more of an RB2 than RB1 with injury, game script (3.5-point dogs), and individual matchup (13th vs. RBs) working against him. Jacobs has been subbed out in favor of scatbacks in negative game script all season. If inactive, Devontae Booker will slide into this low-floor RB2 role, although he was subbed out on third downs, too. The Colts' run defense is better with DT DeForest Buckner plugging gaps up the middle.

 

 

12. Bills (24.25, -1.5) vs. PIT

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With the help of organizational stability, Josh Allen has developed quickly as a passer, especially on deep balls. Allen’s completion percentage over expected on passes of 25+ air yards has gone from -12.1 last year to +6.6 this year. That’s allowed the Bills to climb up to fourth in neutral pass rate over the last month (61%). Allen will be under more pressure against the Steelers’ blitz-heavy defense but can’t be moved out of top-eight fantasy rankings. The Bills’ 24.25-point team total seems slightly low. … Stefon Diggs is one of the highest-floor players in all of fantasy because the Bills are using him far more within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage compared to how the Vikings used him in 2019 (chart). He has at least 10.0 PPR points in all games and enters Week 14 as the WR12 in fantasy usage over the last month. Diggs checks boxes in both talent and usage as a low-end WR1. Slot man Cole Beasley is 16th in targets per game (9.3) over the last month and is 16th in yards per route run overall. In games without John Brown, Beasley’s expected PPR points climb up to 12.9, making him a viable WR3 play as long as the Bills remain very pass-heavy. The expected pressure of the Steelers’ defense helps Beasley’s target outlook in theory, too. Gabriel Davis (13.9 aDOT) is the primary deep threat as the one-for-one Brown replacement. He’s averaging 9.1 expected PPR points in games without Brown as a fantasy WR5. … Dawson Knox had a season-high 10.0 expected PPR points in Week 13, possibly because there are more targets to go around without Brown and fewer capable receivers to run four-receiver sets. Still, Knox is merely a TE3 until proven otherwise. … 

Zack Moss looks awful and was fully benched in Week 13 following a fumble. That led to 16.6 expected PPR points for Devin Singletary, who needs a three-down workload to re-enter the RB2 mix with the Bills ranking top five in neutral pass rate. Singletary faces an uphill battle against the No. 8 rushing EPA defense, especially if Allen remains the goal-line priority. He’s more of a RB3 than RB2 despite last week’s workload. 

Updated Friday: Steelers CB Joe Haden and LB Robert Spillane are both out. Give me the over on the Bills' team total.

 

 

13. Lions (24.0, +7.5) vs. GB

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Matthew Stafford’s ceiling is higher under interim coach Darrell Bevell, who wants to play with more tempo and increased the Lions’ neutral pass rate from 32% to 42% last week, but he’ll be without Kenny Golladay (hip), RT Tyrell Crosby, and possibly D’Andre Swift (headaches) again. The Packers also  allow the lowest neutral pass rate on defense because they play a heavy Cover 2 scheme, meaning they typically don’t have enough defenders in the box to consistently stop the run. Stafford remains a QB2 with Detroit projected for 24 points, the 13th most of the week. … Marvin Jones is leading the NFL in air yards per game and is 11th in targets per game over the last month. Jones’ expected PPR points per game jumps from 7.2 to 14.2 with Golladay out. The de facto No. 1 receiver will draw some CB Jaire Alexander in coverage, but Alexander is a zone defender and isn’t likely to shadow him. Even if he did, Jones’ WR13 fantasy usage is enough to earn WR3 respect.  Danny Amendola has averaged 9.7 expected PPR points without Golladay as the primary underneath target. Amendola’s WR5 appeal would be heightened if Swift is unable to go. Mohamed Sanu started in two-receiver sets last week (28 routes) but is off the radar with the Lions taking a look at young receivers Quintez Cephus (20) and Jamal Agnew (11). … T.J. Hockenson has at least 8.9 PPR points in all but one game in 2020. He’s a locked-in TE1 who gets an extra boast if Swift remains sidelined. Hockenson’s individual matchup is tough on paper with the Packers chilling at fifth best against fantasy tight ends. Packers S Darnell Savage is likely to play through his groin injury. … 

D’Andre Swift is questionable to play. He was upgraded from limited to full in practice on Friday, but he’s still being listed with an “illness” which could be headaches stemming from his concussion. If that’s the case, Swift will need to get cleared by the team’s doctor to play. Swift is more questionable than others think. It’s unclear if he’ll handle a full workload if he’s active, too. There’s a lot of risk with Swift in Week 14, but his ceiling is evident. The Packers’ Cover 2 defense has led to a league-high neutral rush rate for opposing offenses, and the No. 25 rushing EPA defense in general. If Swift is out, Adrian Peterson is a matchup-based RB3. Kerryon Johnson shouldn’t be started even if Swift misses. He’s averaging 9.1 expected PPR points without Swift. 

 

 

14. Cardinals (23.75, -2.5) @ NYG

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Coach Kliff Kingsbury has the run game figured out, but the passing offense is redundant and only ranks 13th in passing EPA. Kyler Murray is rarely throwing the ball over the middle (27th out of 30 QBs), primarily throws underneath (17th in aDOT), is coming off a season-low 27% neutral pass rate, and has run half as much in the last three weeks. I think Week 13 was the bottom, however. Murray’s shoulder should be at near full health now, and the Giants’ Cover 3 defense is most vulnerable underneath and near the sideline, which is where the Cardinals attack most often. Murray is a rebound QB1. … We can complain that most of DeAndre Hopkins’ targets come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage (chart) and 88% of them are near the sideline, but Hopkins remains a weekly WR1. Giants CB James Bradberry is one of the league’s best, but his responsibility is mostly to deny deep balls in this Cover 3 defense, which allows underneath passes at a higher clip. Christian Kirk set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13. He’s running the most difficult types of routes -- 28% of his targets are 20+ air yards downfield and 93% of them are near the sideline -- which plays directly into the strengths of the Giants’ pass defense. Kirk is the WR60 in fantasy usage over the last month. Larry Fitzgerald is eligible to return from the COVID-19 list and will slide back into the slot. Andy Isabella could remain on the field for more than half of dropbacks after Arizona utilized four-receiver sets on most Week 13 passes. Both are off the 12-team radar. … Despite a long touchdown on a coverage bust, Dan Arnold isn’t a redraft option. He ran a route on eight of 44 dropbacks last week. … 

The Cardinals continue using their two running backs in defined roles. All 18 of Kenyan Drake’s Week 13 opportunities came on early downs, while Chase Edmonds entered in obvious passing downs. Drake is getting more looks as a runner with defenses prioritizing Murray on read options, particularly near the goal-line. Drake is up to RB6 fantasy usage over the last month because of this. He’s a boom-bust RB2 depending on game script. The Cardinals are 2.5-point favorites. 

 

 

15. Cowboys (23.5, -3.5) @ CIN

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Andy Dalton has rescued the Cowboys’ overall floor on offense, even if it’s largely garbage time influenced. Dalton is masking the offensive line injuries by releasing the ball quickly and maneuvering the pocket like a veteran. Vegas seems to agree with my reasonably positive vibes by giving Dallas a 23.5-point team total, which is 15th highest on the week. The Bengals are dead last in adjusted sack rate and 26th in passing EPA defense. Dalton is a low-end QB2. … Over the last four weeks, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup have the same exact targets per game (8.0) and air yards per game (82). Cooper remains the best bet overall given his entire 2020 track record, but Gallup’s role change from sideline deep threat earlier in the season to well-rounded baller in recent weeks has vaulted him back into the WR4 conversation. Slot man CeeDee Lamb is averaging 7.3 targets over the last month as the Cowboys’ top threat underneath. With his playmaking ability, Lamb can be fired up as a PPR flex in this plus matchup. The Bengals are 17th against fantasy receivers. … Dalton Schultz is 15th in targets per game over the last month as a volume-based TE2. Schultz has an easier path to a ceiling with the Bengals rankings 31st against fantasy tight ends. … 

Ezekiel Elliott looked more spry in Week 13 after extended days of rest, but he came up empty at the goal-line partially because Dallas’ offensive line is decimated. The Bengals front seven is just as injured, however, with DT D.J. Reader on injured reserve and other veterans completely out of the rotation. Elliott’s receiving plus goal-line role has better odds of reaching a ceiling with the Cowboys entering as 3.5-point favorites. 

 

 

16. 49ers (23.5, -3.5) vs. WAS

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Nick Mullens isn’t much of a drop-off from Jimmy Garoppolo for fantasy purposes, but Week 14 will be a tougher challenge. Mullens is 32nd out of 40 in passer rating under pressure and faces the No. 4 adjusted sack rate defense featuring two first-round defensive ends playing at scary good levels on tape. Coach Kyle Shanahan will need to dial up an incredible game plan for Mullens to break out of the QB3 mix. … Brandon Aiyuk is the latest rookie receiver to look like a true difference maker. In his last three games, Aiyuk has seen 22.4, 25.3, and 19.1 expected PPR points while being utilized as a true outside receiver capable of winning downfield and after the catch. It’s worth questioning if Mullens will have enough time to launch downfield shots this week, and Aiyuk is less likely to compile in garbage time with the 49ers opening as 3.5-point favorites. He’s a boom-bust WR3 play. On the season, Deebo Samuel is 10th in yards per route run as a stud in his own right. Samuel had 14.3 expected PPR points last week despite Aiyuk’s eruption, a sign that both receivers could flirt with WR3 numbers together. Samuel’s quick-hitting, gadget-like usage fits better in this matchup. … Jordan Reed looks fully recovered from his October injury. He’s ninth out of 43 tight ends in yards per route run this season and is the TE15 in fantasy usage over the last month. Reed is a high-end TE2 play. … 

The 49ers utilized a two-back rotation in Week 13 with all four running backs available. Jeffery Wilson led the backfield in expected PPR points (18.1) with Raheem Mostert (9.1) well behind. It’s unclear if that was a one-week outlier or if it’s because Mostert isn’t fully healthy yet. Either way, Mostert can’t be trusted as anything more than a boom-bust RB3 with touches seemingly up for grabs. Washington also ranks third against fantasy running backs. 

 

 

17. Chargers (23.5, +2.5) vs. ATL

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The Chargers are a mess on special teams and defense, but the offense has rebound appeal at home against a defense that shares the same communication issues as Anthony Lynn. Atlanta ranks dead last against fantasy quarterbacks and looked dysfunctional defending the Saints’ passing attack in two of the last three weeks. Justin Herbert’s downfield aggression is a good schematic fit as well with the Falcons utilizing Cover 1 man coverage at the second highest rate (46%). That leaves them most vulnerable to deep shots. Herbert is a boom-bust QB1. … Keenan Allen is third in targets per game over the last month (11.8) on a 26% target share. Even with more target competition, Allen should survive as a low-end WR1 in PPR formats as long as the Chargers’ seventh highest neutral pass rate in the last four weeks is here to stay. This week’s matchup against the No. 30 fantasy receiver defense is pristine. Mike Williams has busted more than he’s boomed, but this is a plus individual matchup on paper. 31% of his targets travel 20+ air yards downfield, which is exactly where the Falcons’ defense is most vulnerable. Williams is 18th in air yards per game over the last four weeks. He’s a volatile WR4/flex. … Hunter Henry is a rebound candidate after setting a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13. Henry can be knocked down a hair with Ekeler stealing more underneath looks, but the Falcons’ No. 27 defense against the position is too appealing to keep Henry out of TE1 rankings. … 

The Falcons have allowed the third fewest carries per game (21.9) and rank third in rushing EPA defense. Austin Ekeler has an uphill battle between the tackles behind this offensive line, but who cares? Ekeler has 36.6 and 15.1 expected PPR points in his two games coming off his hamstring injury because of a monster receiving workload. The Falcons historically have been hemorrhaging receptions to running backs in this scheme. Ekeler is a locked-in RB1. Kalen Ballage (8.3 expected PPR points with Ekeler) is off the radar. 

 

 

18. Ravens (22.75, Pk) @ CLE

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Lamar Jackson has had the Browns’ number, throwing for three touchdowns in each of his last three games. This same defense is missing S Ronnie Harrison (IR), CB Greedy Williams (IR), and CB Denzel Ward (questionable) right now and offers more fire power on offense to keep this game competitive throughout. Jackson’s accuracy lowers his floor, but his ceiling is still intact. Give me the over on the Ravens’ 22.75-point team total assuming Andrews and Snead are back. … Marquise Brown’s targets are super volatile because 28% of them come 20+ air yards downfield. This year, many of them have fallen incomplete, but these type of throws are notoriously noisy. Among 27 qualifiers, Brown ranks 25th in catch rate on targets of 25+ air yards (13%), a sign that positive regression is coming. Brown offers a quality ceiling but remains stuck in WR4 mud given his nonexistent floor. He’s the WR58 in fantasy usage over the last month. Slot man Willie Snead has WR5/6 appeal in PPR formats if healthy with the Browns allowing the fifth most pass attempts per game (40.3) on defense. … Mark Andrews was activated from the COVID-19 list and should operate near 100% with plenty of practice days in between Monday’s kick off. Andrews’ production has been up and down this season, but he’s in a plus spot against a Cleveland defense that’s 28th against fantasy tight ends and missing their starting safety. Andrews scored twice in the season opener. … 

J.K. Dobbins did not have a bellcow role in Week 13 (21-of-55 snaps), but he was extremely efficient and could’ve earned more early-down work with Mark Ingram looking over the hill. Dobbins’ 10- to 15-touch projection comes with big-play potential (5.4 YPC) and all passing-down work if the Ravens fall in negative game script. The Browns’ No. 19 rushing EPA defense isn’t one to worry about, making Dobbins a classic boom-bust RB2/3. Expect Gus Edwards to be the power back in short-yardage situations.

 

 

19. Browns (22.75, Pk) vs. BAL

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The Browns’ balanced offense has been humming when weather has cooperated, but the Ravens’ pressure-heavy scheme is a potential storm. Baker Mayfield is 38th out of 40 in passer rating under pressure and Baltimore blitzes at the fifth highest rate in the NFL (38%). Luckily, Mayfield plays behind a top three offensive line and should have moderate success on limited volume. Both teams rank in the bottom half of neutral pace and neutral pass rate. Mayfield is on the QB2/3 border with the Browns projected for 22.75 points. … Jarvis Landry set a season high in expected PPR points in Week 13 and is suddenly up to WR24 fantasy usage over the last month, which still includes a poor weather contest. In his three games in non-weather games without Odell Backham, Landry has averaged 19.7 expected PPR points. He’s the only Browns receiver running routes underneath -- aDOTs: Landry (8.2), Higgins (13.5), Hodge (16.9), Peoples-Jones (14.4) -- and could be the hot read when Baker is pressured. Landry, who is seventh in yards per route run, can be trusted as a fantasy WR2/3 in PPR formats. Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, and Donovan Peoples-Jones will compete for downfield targets as no-floor big-play threats. Higgins, who had 105 air yards last week, is the one who will play in two-receiver sets. … Austin Hooper is averaging 5.2 expected PPR points in his seven games with both running backs healthy. The passing offense can only carry one fantasy-relevant pass-catcher with the Browns only passing the ball on 43% of neutral situation snaps. … 

Nick Chubb is a certified outlier capable of single-handedly winning weeks on upwards of 20 touches when game script is on his side. Against the Ravens’ No. 6 rushing EPA defense with both DT Calais Campbell and DT Brandon Williams active, Chubb doesn’t profile as a ceiling play, but he’s earned every-week RB1 status whenever elite OG Wyatt Teller is active. Since Chubb’s return, Kareem Hunt has disappointed to the tune of 10.1 PPR points per game, but he’s been unlucky near the goal-line and was losing snaps due to positive game script over that span. If either thing changes, Hunt should rebound as an RB2. He’s still averaging 14.1 expected PPR points over the last month.

 

 

20. Texans (22.75, -1.5) @ CHI

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Deshaun Watson is arguably the third best quarterback in the NFL right now, but he faces yet another tough road  test with very little around him. The Texans project for just 22.75 points against a defense that’s fifth best at stopping fantasy quarterbacks because they have talent at all three levels and play slow on offense. Watson has earned low-end QB1 regardless, especially after setting a new season high with 7.5 expected fantasy points on the ground last week. He’ll scramble more often now that he’s throwing to scrubs. … Brandin Cooks’ role didn’t change much without Will Fuller in Week 13, although we can still project him for a high target share down the stretch. Cook will be the primary intermediate target as an every-week WR2. He had 13.7 expected PPR points on 105 air yards last week in a tough matchup. Chad Hansen stepped into the Fuller role last week as the other boundary receiver. His familiarity with the scheme led to running a route on 47-of-50 dropbacks and 11.6 expected PPR points overall. Hansen will be targeted the most downfield (15.9 aDOT) as a boom-bust WR4/5. Slot man Keke Coutee ran a route on 42-of-50 dropbacks and certainly passed the eye test as a capable starting NFL receiver. His 11.4 aDOT is higher than most slot types because Watson pushes the ball downfield, so Coutee’s weekly is arguably underrated. In this matchup against Chicago’s No. 5 defense versus fantasy receivers, Coutee is best viewed as a WR4. … Jordan Akins ran a route on 37-of-50 dropbacks, but he’s seeing TE30 fantasy usage over the last month as a distant option between the 20s. Akins will need a touchdown for TE2 relevance. Darren Fells only ran 13 routes with the offense primarily sticking with three-receiver looks. … 

David Johnson, who is 63rd out of 66 running backs in yards after contact per attempt, set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13. All of his touches came on early downs with Duke Johnson beating him in routes run, 27 to 24, as the team’s primary pass-catching back. David will need touchdowns and positive game script to pay off as a low-end RB2 because the offense is beyond brutal setting up rushing lanes (32nd in rushing EPA). With DT Akiem Hicks in the lineup, David isn’t a good bet for rushing work and Duke can’t be trusted with Houston favored by 1.5 points. 

Updated Friday: David Johnson was placed on the COVID-19 list and will be out for Week 14. Duke Johnson will be the primary running back with C.J. Prosise being a potential goal-line vulture, something we saw on Thanksgiving. In four starts without DJ, Johnson averaged just 12.1 expected PPR points and the Texans' running backs have been below-average in all efficiency metrics. Johnson is a low-floor RB2/3 play. ... Keke Coutee will dodge Bears slot CB Buster Skrine, who is out with a concussion. 

 

 

21. Steelers (22.75, +1.5) @ BUF

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Ben Roethlisberger’s aDOT has decreased in three-straight healthy seasons (chart) and his completion percentage over expected (CPOE) on passes of 25+ air yards sits at a well below-average -7.3, the worst over that span. The offense is super one-dimensional. They only pass short and rarely run; the Steelers lead the NFL in neutral pass rate over the last month (68%). Roethlisberger has a compiling QB1 ceiling in a game that projects to be the most pass-heavy of the week. If anything, the Steelers’ 22.75-point team total feels low. … Diontae Johnson is tied for first in targets per game over the last month (13.0) on a 27% target share. Volume is clearly winning out even though he’s the Ronald Jones of receivers, making him a high-end WR2 in a good on-paper matchup. The Bills are 24th in passing EPA defense. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s ceiling is tied to volume because his aDOT sits at a lowly 5.4 yards. With both teams ranking above average in neutral pace, Smith-Schuster is a nice bet for 7-12 targets as an upside WR3. Chase Claypool’s usage dipped in Week 13 with James Washington mixing in more than we’d like. Washington likely isn’t going anywhere either, leaving Claypool with the lowest floor of the bunch. Claypool still offers a sky-high ceiling as a freak playmaker. His 12.9 aDOT and 116 air yards per game over the last month lead the team. Claypool remains inside top-30 receiver rankings. … Eric Ebron’s 1.3 red zone targets per game are tied for second among tight ends, and he’s up to TE3 overall in fantasy usage over the last four weeks. His drops are frustrating, but volume wins out overtime. The Bills have been roasted by tight ends this season, too (29th). … 

James Conner “plans to play” in Week 14, but he was being phased out of the offense before going on the COVID-19 list. In his last four games, Conner averaged just 11.4 expected PPR points as an iffy RB2/3. The Bills No. 26 rushing EPA defense is the only positive for Conner heading into the fantasy playoffs. 

 

 

22. Vikings (22.5, +6.5) @ TB

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This on-paper tough passing matchup isn’t as threatening after digging deeper. The Bucs are allowing the highest neutral pass rate on defense because they have a better front seven than secondary and are second in blitz rate (40%). Kirk Cousins is likely to pass more than normal and will have opportunities to exploit one-on-one coverages with his stud receivers. The Vikings’ 22.5-point team total feels a tad low, but there’s always the risk of Minnesota stubbornly sticking with the ground game. … Second in yards per route run, Justin Jefferson is now emerging with volume, too. Over the last month, Jefferson is fourth in air yards per game, ninth in targets per game, and 11th in my fantasy usage model. Jefferson is a scary man-beater with big-play potential against this overly-aggressive defense. Adam Thielen is the WR7 in fantasy usage right now and continues to be the priority receiver in the red zone where he’s converted 11-of-15 targets into scores. With the Bucs allowing the third most pass attempts per game on defense (40.9), it’s possible that both Jefferson and Thielen pay off as upside WR2s. … 

Dalvin Cook is averaging 25.0 PPR points on an elite 21.1 expected PPR points per game. He’s been electric, but this doesn’t profile as a ceiling matchup with the Bucs allowing the fewest carries per game (20.3) and ranking first in rushing EPA defense. Even if Cook is slowed down on the ground, he’ll be active as a receiver and near the goal-line. There’s no way to move Cook outside the top three, especially if Alexander Mattison misses again.

Updated Friday: Kyle Rudolph (doubtful) was unable to practice all week while Irv Smith (questionable) looks likely to play after returning to practice. If Rudolph is out and Smith plays, the second-year tight end will have TE2 streamer appeal as a near every-down player. When Rudolph had the tight end group to himself, he averaged 8.8 expected PPR points in three starts, although Thielen missed one of those games too. The Bucs are 22nd against tight ends.

 

 

23. Jaguars (22.5, +7.5) vs. TEN

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Mike Glennon is heaving balls downfield at league-high rates in his starts and gets a matchup where those 50/50 balls have a better chance of being completed. The Titans are 28th in passing EPA defense and 31st in adjusted sack rate. Vegas has somewhat caught onto the Titans’ anemic pass defense by giving Jacksonville a respectable 22.5-point team total (23rd). Glennon isn’t playing well enough to be a QB2 but is playing well enough to keep this game alive all around. … Among 27 qualifiers, D.J. Chark ranks 23rd in catch rate on targets of 25+ air yards. That points to some unaccounted for positive regression, as deep targets tend to be quite volatile. This is an on-paper matchup to cash in those regression tickets, as the Titans rank 31st against fantasy receivers while allowing the second most pass attempts per game (41.0). Chark is a boom-bust WR3. There’s little to count on behind him. Keelan Cole’s slot role is safe, but it’s a position that’s left him with WR63 fantasy usage over the last month. On the outside, Laviska Shenault should start if he’s healthy (thumb). If not, Collin Johnson will likely start instead of Chris Conley, who only ran four routes in Week 13. It’s best to just avoid the confusion. … Tyler Eifert has better odds of hitting as a TE2 streamer now that he’s the TE17 in fantasy usage over the last month. The Titans’ struggles rushing the passer have trickled down to their tight end defense (24th). … 

James Robinson is averaging 18.7 PPR points this season and is the RB7 in fantasy usage over the last month. With the Titans missing DE Jadaveon Clowney and others on defense, Robinson is a locked-in RB1 once again. Tennessee is just 25th against fantasy backs on No. 20 rushing EPA efficiency.

 

 

24. Broncos (21.75, +3.5) @ CAR

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Drew Lock is very bad. The Broncos are 31st in passing EPA and only project for 21.75 points despite facing a bottom eight defense in passing EPA defense (27th) and adjusted sack rate (26th). … There’s not a must play receiver for the Broncos with three players seeing relatively even work over the last four weeks. Jerry Jeudy (WR45 fantasy usage) and Tim Patrick (WR47 fantasy usage) are slightly better bets as ceiling WR4 plays than KJ Hamler (WR43 fantasy usage) as the former run more vertical routes from the outside. Box score scrapers will gravitate towards Patrick over Jeudy, but they are in nearly identical situations. The difference has been that Patrick has caught his deep targets -- he’s fifth in catch rate on targets of 25+ air yards out of 27 qualifiers -- while Jeudy has run bad in that same metric for no fault of his own. Both Patrick and Jeudy max out as big-play WR4s. … Noah Fant essentially is the only player running shallow routes right now -- aDOTs: Jeudy (14.6), Patrick (14.0), Hamler (9.9), and Fant (6.8). That’s a good sign for Week 14 against a young Panthers Defense that’s vulnerable over the middle. Still, Fant’s efficiency has been limited by quarterback play and his own ankle injury, keeping him on the TE1/2 border despite a good matchup on paper. The Panthers are 25th against the position. … 

Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay continue playing in very defined roles with Lindsay only operating as an early-down thumper. Because the offense has been stagnant, Gordon only ranks as the RB36 in fantasy usage over the last month while averaging 11.9 expected PPR points in games with Lindsay. Gordon belongs on the RB2/3 border even in one of the best on-paper matchups. Carolina is 27th against the position.

 

 

25. Giants (21.25, +2.5) vs. ARI

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Daniel Jones (hamstring) will play after practicing in full on Friday. His injury does limit his floor and ceiling as his rushing impact likely will be scaled back. With the Giants down at 28th in neutral pass rate over the last month (40%), Jones is stuck in QB3 land. New York projects for 21.25 points, the 25th most on the slate. … Sterling Shepard is the only Giants receiver on the 12-team radar right now. Darius Slayton is averaging 8.3 expected PPR points per game with Shepard. Golden Tate is down at 7.9. Shepard’s 7.6 aDOT and 53 air yards per game leave his ceiling at forgettable levels. The only things keeping his WR4 hopes alive are his 23% target share and the Cardinals’ No. 22 ranking against fantasy receivers. … Over the last four weeks, Evan Engram is the TE10 in fantasy usage, but his career-low 6.0 yards per target average makes him more of a TE2 than TE1. The Cardinals will likely be starting explosive first-round LB Isaiah Simmons at middle linebacker this week with LB De’Vondre Campbell trending towards being inactive. … 

Wayne Gallman is averaging 15.8 PPR points per game on 15.4 expected PPR points in starts. He’s up to the RB9 in fantasy usage over the last month and ranks 4th out of 66 running backs in yards after contact per attempt. At home with a potentially limited quarterback, Gallman projects for 14-20 touches. His ceiling will be dependent on if he plays on third downs over Dion Lewis and if he gets the goal-line touches over Alfred Morris. Last week, Gallman had neither role

 

 

26. Bears (21.25, +1.5) vs. HOU

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Mitchell Trubisky is averaging 213 yards, 2.0 touchdowns, and 20 rushing yards in his five starts. While it doesn’t look pretty, Trubisky is in the low-end QB2 discussion in good matchups like this one. The Texans are 28th in passing EPA defense, are missing their top coverage corner, and have poor enough linebackers for Trubisky to have a rushing ceiling. The Bears’ 21.25-point team total feels oddly too low despite the chaos in the organization. … Allen Robinson has fared better with Trubisky (18.5 PPR points per game) than with Foles (15.0) this season as Trubisky is more likely to lock onto his first read. With CB Bradley Roby suspended, Robinson faces an absolute joke of a cornerback depth chart is a talent-, volume-, and matchup-based WR1. He’s the WR8 in fantasy usage over the last month. Darnell Mooney (WR62 fantasy usage) has been stuck running the low-value, inconsistent downfield routes near the sideline. His catch rate on targets of 25+ air yards (14%) ranks 24th out of 27 qualifiers. Anthony Miller is the slot man in three-receiver sets but carries a low ceiling. He’s been held under 80 yards every game and has scored just two touchdowns. The Bears’ team total isn’t high enough to start Mooney or Miller. … Cole Kmet set a new season-high in expected PPR points in Week 13 and is clearly running ahead of Jimmy Graham, who is only playing in two-TE sets now. The rookie is the TE22 in fantasy usage over the last month and can be streamed in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Houston doesn’t have the personnel to limit tight ends in any way. … 

The Texans have allowed the second most carries per game (28.8), and David Montgomery has the goal-line plus receiving-back role. That’s automatically enough for Montgomery to be inside top-12 rankings, even if there are concerns with his overall talent. Montgomery is quietly averaging 15.7 PPR points per game without Tarik Cohen and is the RB8 in fantasy usage over the last four weeks.

 

 

27. Dolphins (21.0, +7.5) vs. KC

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The Dolphins went uptempo in Week 13 and have climbed to second in neutral pass rate over the last month (61%). It’s a good combination for the game’s odds of hitting the over and for Tua Tagovailoa’s chances of sneaking into QB2 production. With that said, the Dolphins are very limited at receiver, face the No. 11 passing EPA defense, and only project for 21.0 points per Vegas. … The WR9 in fantasy usage, DeVante Parker is 15th in targets per game (9.5) over the last month while benefiting from Preston Williams’ absence. Parker’s expected PPR points jump from 10.3 to 17.6 without Williams as the target tree dwindles. The increased pass rate stabilizes Parker’s floor and increases his ceiling. Despite the Chiefs’ No. 2 ranking against receivers, Parker belongs inside top-25 rankings. The Dolphins are rotating receivers behind Parker. Last week, Lynn Bowden ran more routes than Jakeem Grant. It’s a situation to avoid. … Mike Gesicki’s arrow is certainly pointing upwards with the Dolphins increase in neutral pace and neutral pass rate. He had an outlier 20.0 expected PPR points in Week 13 -- the second highest of the season -- and is now at TE8 fantasy usage over the last month. The Chiefs could use Tyrann Mathieu on Gesicki here, but his volume and athleticism are worth gambling on with game script likely on his side. Gesicki is back on the TE1/2 border. … 

Myles Gaskin hopped back into the volume-based RB2 mix in Week 13. He handled 23 touches on 50 total snaps and isn’t threatened by anyone else on the depth chart. In starts, Gaskin is averaging 14.6 PPR points on 19.4 expected PPR points. With the Chiefs permitting yardage on the ground, Gaskin belongs inside top-24 rankings. Kansas City is 19th against the position despite the obvious game script concerns.

Updated Friday: Salvon Ahmed (shoulder) is out again, so Gaskin's RB2 floor remains intact. Further helping his value is Chiefs run-stuffing LB Damien Wilson (knee) being out.

 

 

28. Bengals (20.0, +3.5) vs. DAL

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Brandon Allen hasn’t done nearly enough to warrant QB2 status. Vegas agrees by giving the Bengals a 20.0-point team total despite facing arguably the league’s worst defense. … Since Joe Burrow’s injury, Tee Higgins is leading the receiver group in expected PPR points per game (10.3) ahead of Tyler Boyd (7.8) and the ghost of A.J. Green (3.1). Higgins offers more big-play appeal, and he should have some chances to come down with something given Dallas’ 23rd ranking against fantasy receivers. Even then, Higgins and Boyd max out as desperate flex plays with no floor and a limited ceiling. To make matters worse, The Cowboys have allowed the second fewest pass attempts per game (33.0) on defense. … 

Giovani Bernard could flirt with RB2/3 numbers here. He’s the RB24 in fantasy usage over the last month and has increased odds of producing at league average efficiency given the matchup. The Cowboys linebackers are running the wrong direction in their run fits and quite frankly seem to have given up on the whole. Bernard’s 15-plus touch projection is enough to get him around RB25 this week. The Cowboys have allowed the most carries per game (29.6) and are dead last in rushing EPA defense.

Updated Friday: Tee Higgins (questionable) was limited in each practice and likely plays at less than 100%. 

 

 

29. Football Team (20.0, +3.5) @ SF

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Alex Smith has raised the floor of the Washington Offense, but he’s off the 12-team redraft radar. The 49ers have allowed the third fewest pass attempts per game (34.0) on defense, and Vegas only projects Washington for 20.0 points, the third fewest of the week. … Terry McLaurin is a rebound candidate as a WR2 after a season-low 9.2 expected PPR points last week. That was an outlier performance, one that’s unlikely to repeat especially with the run game taking a hit following Antonio Gibson’s turf toe. McLaurin is the WR33 in fantasy usage over the last month and should be spoon fed upwards of double-digit targets. Cam Sims is coming off a season-high 16.6 expected PPR points but is a wait-and-see player during the fantasy playoffs. … Logan Thomas has been the biggest beneficiary of Smith’s Comeback Player of the Year campaign. He’s up to TE7 fantasy usage and TE6 PPR points per game over the last month. Thomas has the athleticism to create after the catch when he sees accurate passes. His ceiling and floor do take a hit against San Francisco’s linebackers. They rank first versus fantasy tight ends. …

No Antonio Gibson means more J.D. McKissic overall and more Peyton Barber on early downs. Barber is a sub-par NFL talent that won’t play in negative game script, leaving him without a floor in all matchups. McKissic is certainly in play in PPR formats. He’s the RB13 in fantasy usage over the last month and projects for 7-12 targets in games Washington is trailing in. With the 49ers favored by 3.5 points, McKissic is a low-end PPR RB2 on volume alone.

 

 

30. Patriots (19.25, +6) @ LAR

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Only projected for 19.25 points, the Patriots find themselves in a tough spot in back-to-back west coast games on a short week, this time against the No. 2 passing EPA defense and No. 5 rushing EPA defense. Cam Newton’s league-leading nine inside-the-five rushing touchdowns keep his QB2 status locked in, but he’s a poor bet for much passing production. Newton is 36th out of 40 in passer rating under pressure and faces the No. 8 adjusted sack rate defense. … Jakobi Meyers is the WR56 in fantasy usage over the last month, partially because the Patriots are 31st in neutral pass rate (34%) and partially because he’s seeing more defensive attention. This week, Meyers will possibly have to overcome CB Jalen Ramsey who just held DeAndre Hopkins to 36 yards on 34 coverage snaps, although it’s unclear if Ramsey will shadow anyone in this matchup. Meyers, N’Keal Harry (WR71 fantasy usage), and Damiere Byrd (WR76 fantasy usage) all face an uphill battle. The Rams have allowed the fewest fantasy points to receivers. Of the three, Meyers projects for the most targets, Harry projects for the most red zone touchdowns, and Byrd projects for the most downfield targets on his 12.4 aDOT. … 

As six-point road dogs against the No. 7 defense against fantasy running backs, this profiles as a dud week for Damien Harris. All 17 of his opportunities last week came on early downs, and most of them are very low value as Newton is the primary ball handler near the goal line. Harris’ 15-carry projection doesn’t move the needle much. He’s the RB27 in fantasy usage over the last month even with Sony Michel only playing in garbage time. James White is the RB50 in fantasy usage, although the game script tilts his way here. The Rams allow the sixth most targets to running backs, so White should see screens throughout the game. Even then, White maxes out as a PPR RB3 given the Patriots’ lowly team total.

 

 

31. Eagles (18.75, +7) vs. NO

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Jalen Hurts was an absolute baller in college and has the dual-threat abilities of a classic QB2 streamer. Even against the Saints’ No. rushing EPA defense, Hurst projects for more than 25-40 rushing yards with the coaching staff insinuating that they are incorporating zone reads. Hurts’ biggest knock as a prospect was his processing, and the Saints’ well-coached defense could fuel that fire. The Eagles’ 18.75-point team total suggests Hurts is nothing more than a QB2. … The Eagles rotated four receivers relatively evenly in Week 13. Greg Ward (31 routes) and Jalen Reagor (27) are the best bets for targets with Alshon Jeffery (23) and Travis Fulgham (19) in a tier below. With volume and efficiency projected to work against all of them, the Eagles’ receivers should be off limits in 12-team starting lineups. Reagor offers the most big-play potential of the bunch, although he’s just 96th out of 106 receivers in yards per route run. … In his return to the lineup, Zach Ertz set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13 and is now 41st out of 43 tight ends in yards per route run. He’s completely unplayable with Dallas Goedert the short- and long-term priority at tight end. Goedert is the TE6 in fantasy usage over the last month and averages 13.0 expected PPR points per game with Ertz healthy. I’ll take the under due to matchup and overall passing volume concerns.

Miles Sanders set a season low in expected PPR points in Week 13 while losing his bellcow status. Both Boston Scott (16-of-62 snaps) and Jordan Howard (11) spelled Sanders (35) in their defined roles. With Sanders losing high-value touches in the pass game and potentially in short-yardage situations, he’s trending in the wrong direction. The Saints have also allowed the second fewest carries per game (21.9) and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Sanders is on the RB2/3 border.

Updated Friday: Making matters worse, the Saints will be getting back DE Marcus Davenport (concussion) and CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), and the Eagles placed legendary LT Jason Peters (toe) on injured reserve.

 

 

32. Jets (16.75, +13.5) @ SEA

NYJSEA14

The Seahawks have allowed the most pass attempts per game (45.6) and rank 25th in passing EPA defense, and Sam Darnold still profiles as a fantasy QB3. Vegas’ 16.75-point team total is the lowest of the week, and the Jets are last in neutral pass rate over the last month (31%). … Jamison Crowder is averaging 14.8 expected PPR points per game with Darnold, who historically has peppered his slot receivers. Crowder is the best bet for WR3 production in this cupcake matchup after showing that he’s healthy in Week 13 when he popped for a 5-47-2 receiving line on a 30% target share. Because the Seahawks are dead last against fantasy receivers, both Denzel Mims (WR52 fantasy usage) and Breshad Perriman (WR70) have theoretical upside although both offer zero floor. Mims is coming off a season low in expected PPR points and continues to only see downfield targets -- 30% of his targets are 20+ air yards downfield. Perriman is in a similar but even worse position, as 90% of Breshad Perriman’s targets are near the sideline. That’s a shame because all three receivers pass the eye test. … 

The Seahawks have allowed the fifth fewest carries per game (22.1) because offenses tend to target their atrocious secondary. Still, Adam Gase loves to jam running backs up the middle, so whoever starts at running back will be in play as a volume-based RB3. Frank Gore is the presumed starter if healthy (concussion). Ty Johnson, who had 22.5 expected PPR points, will start if Gore is out. Johnson clearly had more juice than Gore. Shocking.

Updated Friday: Denzel Mims (personal) is out, and there's sudden worry that Jamison Crowder (calf) will miss, too. Crowder suffered a soft-tissue strain in practice this week. If healthy, Crowder profiled as a volume- and matchup-based WR3. Assuming Crowder misses, Breshad Perriman vaults up into flex consideration as the only NFL-caliber receiver available. Jeff Smith and slot man Braxton Berrios would join him in three-receiver sets. Perriman's 15.5 aDOT gives him a deep-ball ceiling, and he'll likely be schemed easier targets underneath this week as the defacto top option. Between Berrios and Smith, give me Berrios as an iffy WR4 if only because Darnold has obsessed over slot receivers for his entire career.

 

 


Best Bets of Week 14

Visit our live odds page. My all-time record: 82-63-3 (56.4%). 

1. Bucs (-6.5) vs. Vikings - Tom/Arians needed a bye, Vikings missing top defender.

2. Colts (-2.5) vs. Raiders - Indy defense legit with DT Buckner, might get OT back too.

3. Chargers (+2.5) vs. Falcons - No Julio, Atlanta defense miscommunicating often.

4. Packers (-7.5) vs. Lions - DET missing a WR, RT, DT, two CBs, and maybe a RB.

5. Steelers vs. Bills OVER 48.0 - Both top five in neutral pass, upper half in pace.

 

 


Charts of the Week

WEEK14

In terms of projected points and offensive pace, the top five fantasy offenses in no particular order are the Packers, Titans, Seahawks, Bucs, and Chiefs with the Colts, Falcons, Cardinals, and Rams in the next tier. 

 

 

WK14PAATT

Too much attention gets paid to defensive efficiency when defensive volume matters, too. This chart shows which passing offenses are expected to pass more than normal because the defense they face allow a lot of pass attempts on defense. The Ravens, Browns, and Vikings stand out as potentially underrated passing spots.

 

 

WEEK14PASSING

The Titans and Packers are in a tier above all when it comes to passing efficiency, although the Chiefs and Seahawks could give them a run for their money. The two games of the week are the Chiefs vs. Dolphins and Bills vs. Steelers.

 

WEEK14RUATT

David Montgomery sets up really well once again because he’s seeing all of the work in his backfield, plus catches a matchup that leans towards the run. James Robinson, Chris Carson, and Ronald Jones also get a slight boost as shown on this chart. On the flip side, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb are in worse than normal spots.

 

 

WEEK14RUSHING

There aren’t any standout rushing matchups, although the Ravens, Saints, and Packers are in good spots overall. Shootout to the Texans for being significantly worse at running than the Jets despite having an elite dual-threat quarterback. That’s tough to do.

 

 

NEUTRALWEEK14

The Steelers may attempt to get the run game a little more involved before they get to the playoffs, but they’re a good bet to be among the pass-heaviest in the NFL for the rest of the season. It’s good to see the Rams up to No. 3 in neutral pass rate after a more balanced attack in September. Expect the Lions to become more pass oriented with Matt Patricia out and potentially Kenny Golladay in. 

 

 

WEEK14DEFENSE

There aren’t many standout spots at defense this week. The Saints are a potentially elite play depending on health, as both DE Marcus Davenport and CB Janoris Jenkins missed last week. Even if they’re both out, the Saints are playing well enough to warrant DEF1 this week against an offensive line missing multiple starters. The Seahawks are getting healthier on defense and face the Jets, making them my No. 2 defense of Week 14. I’d sit the Patriots, Dolphins, and Bills if I had them in season-long formats.