News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 14

Nov 18, 2019; Mexico City, MEX; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) reacts at the line of scrimmage against the Los Angeles Chargers in the first half during an NFL International Series game at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)

Sometimes you just have to ask yourself what you can live with. I woke up Saturday to a Twitter question and a poll, asking whether the person should play Patrick Mahomes, Carson Wentz, or Jared Goff in Week 14. On the one hand, I get the question. Mahomes has a daunting matchup. Goff faces a Seattle defense that has allowed passing numbers. Wentz faces a Giants defense that has really allowed passing numbers.

But come on. If you played this whole season only to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, and you did it by starting Mahomes, well, that happens. Can’t get mad at that. If you lose because you benched Mahomes? That’s a supervillain’s origin story. Dance with the ones that brought you might not be the best advice, but it’s the most logical one. You’re playing Mahomes. You’re going down with that ship, if that’s what it takes.

On to the Week 14 advice.

Season-long league advice

These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players rising and falling in the weekly rankings. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

27. Todd Gurley, LAR vs SEA (RB15) — Maybe too little, too late, but Gurley surged in November, ranking 12th at the position in fantasy scoring.
28. Phillip Lindsay, DEN @ HOU (RB16) — Lindsay is cemented as the lead ball carrier in Denver and gets a plus matchup.
29. Stefon Diggs, MIN vs DET (WR12) — Diggs will likely see Darius Slay, but his big-play upside keeps him in the WR1 conversation
30. Odell Beckham Jr., CLE vs CIN (WR13) — Over the last five weeks, Beckham is tied for fourth among wide receivers with 43 targets.

Two starts, two sits

START Ryan Tannehill in medium-sized leagues: Since his first start in Week 7, Tannehill ranks sixth in fantasy points per game (21.6). Across the full season, he ranks first in passer rating (113.9) and second in fantasy points per dropback (0.66). Expect another QB1 performance this week, up against an Oakland defense that ranks bottom-three in fantasy points per game (19.4), passer rating (103.1), and fantasy points per dropback (0.52).
START Sam Darnold in deep leagues: Darnold flopped last week, but he’s still our second-highest graded quarterback over the last three weeks, ranking third in fantasy points over this span. He’s a borderline QB1 this week, in a dream matchup, against a Miami defense that ranks dead-last in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.56).
SIT Sammy Watkins in shallow leagues: Since Week 2, Watkins averages just 7.4 fantasy points per game, with only one double-digit performance over his last seven games. With the league’s best shadow cornerback – Stephon Gilmore – projected to shadow Watkins, he’s an easy fade.
SIT Golden Tate in medium-sized leagues: Tate returns from injury to face a Philadelphia Eagles defense that is giving up the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing slot wide receivers (7.0), and 90% less than the league average rate.

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Robert Woods: Woods has 34 targets over the last four weeks … and that’s despite missing Week 11 in that surprise “personal business” inactive. The only player with more than one game in that span and more targets per game than Woods’ 11.3 is D.J. Moore, at 11.5.
BUST: Alvin Kamara: Is Kamara’s injury lingering? He hasn’t been nearly as elusive as he once was since returning from injury, forcing barely over 1.0 missed tackles per game. And facing a tough San Francisco defense that has only allowed 3 touchdowns to running backs all year, this isn’t the week to get him going.

The best and worst matchups of the week

BEST: Kirk Cousins: Cousins is fantasy’s QB9 on the season. Starting in Week 6, he’s QB4. And he’s doing it despite clearly his worst season as a rusher, with only 50 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. In other words, this is the best Cousins-as-a-passer we’ve ever seen, with a career-best PFF passing grade (85.8), passer rating (111.9), and yards per attempt (8.5).
WORST: Travis Kelce: Kelce is in line to finish as fantasy’s No. 1 tight end for the fourth straight year, an incredible run of success. There are some signs that he’s a little worse than his peak, though. He has his lowest PFF receiving grade of the stretch at 85.3 and his lowest yards after the catch per reception at 4.4.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Darwin Thompson in shallow leagues: Thompson flashed upside in the Chiefs' Week 13 win. He has some juice for the December stretch run.
ADD A.J. Brown in medium-sized leagues: Brown isn't the most consistent fantasy option, but his high weekly ceiling is worth scooping up for the fantasy playoffs.
ADD Tyrod Taylor in deep leagues: If you want to get the jump on your league in deeper 2QB leagues, Taylor is worth a look. There's a chance the Chargers pull the plug on Philip Rivers.

DST streamers

Green Bay Packers: The Packers took advantage of a soft matchup last week, intercepting three passes and scoring 10.0 fantasy points against the Giants. Now, they draw a Washington offense that worst in points scored per game (14.4) and sixth-worst in fantasy points per game allowed (10.4) to opposing defenses.

QB streamers

Jared Goff: In what will be his sixth career game against the division-rival Seahawks, Goff has a lot to offer this week. He has thrown for over 300 yards with at least 1 TD in each of the last three meetings with Seattle and this week should be no different. While Goff’s recent stretch of games includes a few poor outings, it should be noted he has played the Ravens, Steelers, and Bears within the last four weeks.

Expected Fantasy Points

Leonard Fournette: For the second straight week, Fournette led all running backs in XFP. Unfortunately, this time, Fournette again succumbed to poor touchdown luck. On a 28.8-point expectation, Fournette scored just 18.1 fantasy points. And, on a 1.5 touchdown expectation, Fournette scored zero touchdowns.

DFS advice

Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.

DFS weekly preview

Salary changes: James White: The Patriots offense has been struggling for much of the year, but what kick-started them this past game was involving White a lot more. He saw a season-high 14 rushing attempts and also saw 9 targets, his most since Week 6. He turned it into 37.7 fantasy points and was the top fantasy RB in Week 13.

DFS facts to know

Giants vs. Eagles: The moment we have been waiting for is finally here – the return of Eli Manning! As such, let’s focus on the Eagles side of the football where we should expect to find actual fantasy production. In particular, Alshon Jeffery is popping in the WR/CB chart with the No. 3 matchup.

Bargains

Benny Snell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner is once again out this weekend, so it is time to buy on Snell again. In the three games with more than 15 carries, Snell has rushed for 78.7 yards per game, one touchdown, and has averaged 11-plus fantasy points per game.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers: Denver shut down Henry after three straight 11-plus point performances but he looks to bounce back with a +12% matchup advantage against Jarrod Wilson. If Henry sees his targets move back toward his average of 6.8, he should see his point total rebound.

Locks

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins: In tournaments, he’s a great play, especially this week, with Fitzpatrick in the midst of a hot stretch and facing a Jets defense that struggles against the passing game and could easily be without its best player in Jamal Adams this week.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Doyle is coming off season-highs in snaps, routes, targets, receptions, and yards in his first game with Eric Ebron on IR. The Tampa Bay pass defense is bad across the board (including the fourth-most PPR points per game allowed to tight ends), so there’s no reason to think Doyle won’t keep it going.

Fades

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: Deshaun Watson rushed for 12 yards against the Ravens. Russell Wilson rushed for 27. Kyler Murray for 4. The only quarterback to score a rushing touchdown against them was Andy Dalton. Allen is a better runner than all of those, but still, this is a defense that doesn’t allow quarterback to tally many rushing yards, and with the team allowing under 10 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks since the Week 8 bye, it’s not a good time to bet on Allen.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Our WR/CB matchup chart forecasts shadow coverage on Chark from Casey Hayward, and while that didn’t slow Courtland Sutton down last week, Hayward’s been a strong shadow corner before that. Meanwhile, the Jaguars offense has gone in the tank lately, averaging under 12 points over the last month and lowering the ceiling of all its weapons.

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