In this week’s preview of the Week 14 NFL slate, I'm highlighting key insights for every game I didn't break down in PFF’s huge NFL Week 14 Preview.
I'll identify sleepers, busts, DFS picks and waiver-wire options with consideration for injuries and other fantasy-relevant news and notes. It’s a behind the curtains look into my Week 14 fantasy rankings.
Fantasy managers could do worse than turning to running back Ty Johnson, who rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries for the Jets in Week 13. Frank Gore is still in the concussion protocol, so Johnson could offer some sneaky fantasy value against the Seattle Seahawks — they've allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks.
Running backs with a pass-catching profile, 4.45 40-yard dash speed and a chance to flirt with 20-plus touches are hard to rank outside the top-30 RBs.
On the season, Seattle has allowed the fourth-most receptions to running backs, and Johnson already has a game this season with six targets under his belt. That performance was back in Week 11 when New York fell behind the Chargers 24-6.
The Seahawks are favored by nearly two touchdowns at home, so Johnson should see some opportunities as a receiver in a negative game script.
Denzel Mims was my highest-ranked Jets wide receiver heading into Week 13, but alas Sam Darnold fell back to his old ways, targeting slot wide receiver Jamison Crowder a team-high seven times. Four of Crowder’s seven targets were inside the 10-yard line, but banking on him scoring in back-to-back weeks seems like a pipe dream.
It’s best to try and avoid all Jets pass-catchers in lieu of the recent resurgence of the Seattle pass defense. They have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to WRs over the past four weeks.
Crowder (16) still trails both Mims (30) and Breshad Perriman (25) in total targets since Week 9. The Jets running backs — Johnson and Gore — have combined for 18 targets and a team-leading 14 receptions.
But with the news that Mims is out for Week 14, fantasy managers could look to Crowder as a floor play. In the games Mims missed earlier this season, Crowder averaged 11.5 targets.
This game should also be a massive bounce-back spot for Russell Wilson and a Seahawks passing game that has struggled in recent weeks. But as we saw after Derek Carr and the Raiders laid an egg in Atlanta, Gang Green is the elixir that cures all offensive woes.
Tight end Jacob Hollister looks like an appealing punt tight end in DFS at just 3.1K, but he’s been splitting snaps with Will Dissly. After Greg Olsen was placed on IR, it looked like Hollister had the vice grip on the starting gig, but Dissly played more snaps and saw the same amount of targets as Hollister (five) in Week 13.
Wilson won’t move higher than QB3 for me in my QB rankings this week despite the juicy matchup because there’s concern that the Jets just get blown-out and Seattle runs the ball in the second half.
I also fully expect the Jets to be able to get pressure on Russ. Over the past four weeks, New York ranks No. 1 in the NFL in pressure rate (46%) and Wilson has seen pressure at the second-highest percentage (43%).
Because of the pressure, Wilson has been sacked 16 times and generated six turnover-worthy plays. Imagine the possibilities of DraftKings lineups that can be built with the savings generated by a Jets DST priced at $2,100.
Keep in mind that DSTs on DraftKings only receive negative points if they allow 28 points (-1) or 35 or more (-4). Seattle hasn’t scored more than 28 points since they stopped letting Russ cook back in Week 9.
Their pass play percentage in a neutral game script has fallen from first (73%) to ninth (65%).
Chasing running backs with divided workload in plus matchups has worked well this season. That’s the case with the Colts’ backfield — despite what fantasy managers want, Jonathan Taylor never took full control here.
The rookie is still the 1.A over Nyheim Hines, but a 49% snap share means that Taylor won’t be the only Colts’ back that benefits from facing PFF’s 30th-ranked run defense.
Both should be started with confidence considering two Jets RBs were able to finish as top-32 options in Week 13.
Taylor seems like a no-brainer option on DraftKings at just $5.8K considering he is averaging 21 touches over his last two games versus Hines’ nine touches. But, at the same time, Hines shouldn’t be overlooked at 5.2K because he is being used more in the red zone.
His red-zone snaps (14) almost triple Taylor’s (four) in their last two games played together. Hines has seen the most carries (five vs. three) and run more routes (nine versus one).
Devontae Booker was a massive bust for fantasy managers who were forced to play him with Josh Jacobs inactive in Week 13. Jacobs’ status looks to be trending downward for Sunday, so Booker is probably going to be the starter for a second straight week.
He is hardly a player I would target in DFS because the Colts’ run defense is a wall with DeForest Buckner, but in traditional formats he should be viewed as a low-end RB2. He has 17 total touches in Week 13 and under-performed in fantasy points versus expectation.
Booker probably has a solid chance to find the end zone considering the Colts have allowed the sixth-most rushing touchdowns from inside the 10-yard line.
Michael Pittman Jr. led the team with nine targets, eight of which were on first reads by quarterback Philip Rivers in Week 12. Unfortunately for the rookie, he caught just one of those passes and dropped three of them.
Old man Rivers doesn't seem like one to hold grudges, but in Week 13 he went away from Pittman in favor of veteran T.Y. Hilton, who has been heating up over the past two weeks: 16 targets, 191 receiving yards, 12 catches and two touchdown catches.
Fourteen of Hilton's 16 targets have come on first-read throws, so view him as the Colts’ clear No. 1 wide receiver versus the Raiders. They have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs over the past four weeks.
Nelson Agholor stood out in my high-value opportunities article for Week 14, so I will be looking to have some healthy exposure to him in DFS. He’s coming off a season-high 11 targets and will face a Colts secondary that has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to WRs in the past four weeks.
Call it a hot take, but Darren Waller is not my TE2 this week. This by no means is a knock on his talent or a recommendation to bench him, but he’s probably a solid fade in DFS with his projected ownership almost at 10%.
The Colts have not allowed more than 70 receiving yards to any tight end this season and have also allowed just one tight end to score all year.
Aaron Rodgers is my QB1. Davante Adams is my WR1. And Aaron Jones is my RB3 in the Week 14 fantasy rankings. The Lions’ defense ranks second-worst versus wide receivers and sixth-worst versus running backs over the past four weeks in terms of fantasy points allowed, so be sure to sprinkle Green Bay Packers offensive players throughout DFS lineups.
Jones is the cheapest of the three on DraftKings at $7,300 and rushed for over 160 yards the last time these teams played back in Week 2. Some might be hesitant to play Jones based on his recent workload split with Jamaal Williams, but that might have been just a temporary change as Jones returned from injury.
Jones has 36 touches (32 carries, four receptions) and owns PFF’s No. 1 rushing grade (90.2) over the past two weeks. In Week 13, he also saw his highest snap share (66%) of the season.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard should also find success in this matchup operating out of the slot. He has run 50% of his routes from the slot since returning to the lineup and the Lions have allowed the second-most receiving yards to WRs since Week 10.
Naturally, because I don’t have Waller as TE2, then there needs to be tight ends ranked above him. One of those tight ends is T.J. Hockenson, who should see plenty of volume — thePackers have faced the third-most tight-end targets over the last four weeks.
The second-year tight end has surpassed 68 receiving yards in three straight weeks and has seen fewer than seven targets just once since Week 8. He ranks second on the team in targets inside the 10-yard line (17). This game has a 55 projected total — look for Hockenson to put up some solid fantasy production.
Hockenson is a great player to stack with Matthew Stafford in DFS. In Stafford’s peak fantasy outings this season, Hockenson has averaged seven catches and double-digit fantasy points.
Matt Ryan was listed as a “start” in my Week 14 edition of start em’ or sit em’ because this should be a spot where the Atlanta Falcons’ passing game can get back on track. Both Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones have plus-matchups per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart, making them both low-end WR1s for Week 14.
I still give the slight lean to Ridley, as he has out-targeted Jones in the full games they have played together this season and ranks second in the NFL in end-zone targets. L.A. has allowed the league’s third-highest passer rating on targets to the end-zone this season (96.2).
Gurley’s eight carries for 16 yards were abysmal, but this isn’t an outlier performance. Since Week 6, TGII has averaged under 3.3 yards per attempt in every game he has played. Fantasy managers looking to win championships this year should not have Gurley in their lineups.
The Falcons RBs are all ranked outside my top-40 running backs this week.
Another tight end who should be set for success this week is Hunter Henry. Only the Jets have allowed more receiving touchdowns to tight ends this season and Henry ranks second in the NFL in end-zone targets among tight ends.
Wide receiver Mike Williams leads Los Angeles in total end-zone targets (12), so I find it hard to believe that he won’t score in Week 14. He also leads the team in deep-targets (23), which further bolsters his upside.
Austin Ekeler has seen 25 targets in his past two games, four more than Keenan Allen. Some have overlooked how Ekeler’s return would influence Allen’s target share. In the last three full games Ekeler, Allen and Justin Herbert have played together, Allen (31) and Ekeler (29) have been almost equal in terms of targets.
Allen hasn’t scored more than 17 fantasy points in a game this season with both a fully healthy Ekeler and Williams in the lineup.
Ekeler ranks third in total expected fantasy points among RBs and fourth in fantasy points under expectation over the past two weeks. This could be a blow-up spot for the Chargers’ running back because the Falcons have allowed the biggest “boom” performances to RBs when they have seen at north of six targets.
He’s averaging 10 targets per game with Herbert under center.
Terry McLaurin played second fiddle to tight end Logan Thomas on Monday night, being out-targeted six to nine. This performance is merely a blip on the radar, as the 49ers’ present the perfect bounce-back spot for the Washington wideout.
They've allowed the third-most fantasy points to the WR position over their last two games. Thomas has the much tougher matchup; San Francisco has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Washington's No. 2 wide receiver, Cam Sims, is also an interesting option for DFS players looking for a pay-down WR. He is just 3.1K on DraftKings and is coming off a nine-target game. Be warned that he is for sure boom-or-bust with a projected WR/CB matchup against Richard Sherman.
The most sought after player in DFS this weekend for Washington will surely be J.D. McKissic at $4,900 — he'll be in line for a heavier workload with Antonio Gibson sidelined with turf toe. In McKissic’s last five games he has seen 10-plus targets three times.
Fantasy managers shouldn’t be concerned about Peyton Barber out-touching McKissic on the ground because those are just empty touches between the 20s. The targets and receptions earn fantasy points in PPR leagues, so that’s what we need to chase.
A negative game script would essentially lock in McKissic’s upside, as the majority of his high-end target games have come in losses. They are currently 3-points dogs on the road this week.
He’s a cash-game lock on DraftKings at just $4.9K. The 49ers rank 29th in yards per target (7.0) and dead-last in explosive pass play percentage (18.5%) to running backs this season.
The 49ers aren’t the only team that has struggled to contain WRs recently. Washington has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers over the past four weeks.
That means Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk should be firmly in all lineups. I prefer Aiyuk ever so slightly — the rookie is averaging 21.1 fantasy points per game (21.1) and Samuel is averaging 18.9 fantasy points per game since Week 8.
The rookie is also used more downfield (team-leading 10.9 aDOT), which makes it easier for him to hit a big play. Samuel (2.2 aDOT) has touches manufactured for him, but that means he has to force missed tackles again and again.
The choice between the two in DFS is easy, because Aiyuk is $1,000 cheaper.
The Football Team is much easier to attack through the air than on the ground, as their front seven has limited running backs to the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game in the last four weeks.
On the season, they have also allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards against outside zone runs (3.7 yard per attempt), which is a scheme Kyle Shanahan relies on heavily in his run game.
Raheem Mostert has averaged 5.7 yards per attempt on outside zone runs this season (fourth-best) and has averaged 4.5 yards per attempt on every other running concept.
The tough matchup combined with the fact that Mostert has been splitting snaps 50/50 with Jeff Wilson Jr. — who also worked on third downs — make both backs tough to trust for Week 14.
It’s hard to have confidence in any Philadelphia Eagles offensive players with Jalen Hurts under center and a matchup against New Orleans. Over the past four weeks, the Saints rank first against QBs, WRs and TEs, in addition to fifth against wide receivers in terms of fantasy points allowed.
But I’d be lying if I said I have zero interest in playing Hurts in DFS. He is priced extremely low for a quarterback ($5,100) and because he offers rushing upside — five for 29 on the ground Sunday — a few scrambles could easily help him hit ROI.
The argument could be made that because New Orleans has faced the fewest rushing attempts from QBs this season, Hurts’ rushing ability could catch them off guard. And don’t overlook the fact that in limited time last week, he threw for over 100 yards, one touchdown and scored 10 fantasy points.
Taysom Hill remains a strong QB1 play based on his rushing — 34 rushes for 176 yards and four scores in the last three weeks — and only great things can happen when he throws the ball to Michael Thomas.
Thomas owns a 35% target share with Hill under center and is averaging an astounding 3.20 yards per route run. Green Bay threw all over the Eagles last week — with Darius Slay nursing an injury, Thomas could be in for an impressive outing.
A Hurts-Thomas stack would be how I would attack this game in DFS.
It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for fantasy managers, but it might be wise to sit Chase Claypool in this game. He offers upside as the team’s primary deep threat, but the Buffalo Bills have faced the fewest rate of 20-yard-plus throws this season (5.7%). The next closest team is around 10%.
Also consider that Claypool is coming off his lowest targeted game (four) since Week 7 and he played fewer snaps than James Washington.
This isn’t the spot for the rookie to deliver big in the fantasy playoffs.
We could also see the Pittsburgh Steelers try to run the ball more effectively with the return of James Conner. Pittsburgh needs to establish some type of balance on offense, and there’s no better time than the present to do so.
Buffalo owns PFF’s 32nd-graded run defense this season (37.8).
Diontae Johnson leads the NFL in targets (64) and drops (seven) since Week 9. The drops are frustrating for sure, but clearly Big Ben doesn’t mind because he continues to pepper DJ with s passes. For that reason, fantasy managers need to continue to start him.
The same can be said for Eric Ebron, who ranks third in the NFL in targets since Week 7. The Bills have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs this season.
I listed Cole Beasley as a “sit” in my Week 14 start em’ or sit em’ article and I also thought hard about featuring Josh Allen in there as well. But I couldn’t pull the trigger because Allen has just been too good.
His fantasy points per game (24.4) trail only Kyler Murray (26.2) and Patrick Mahomes (25.7), and his rushing upside — 322 yards, six rushing touchdowns — provides more than enough to get the job done versus Pittsburgh.
Allen also ranks second in passing touchdowns (nine), fourth in passing yards (942) and third in completions (72) when under pressure this season. Therefore he remains a locked-and-loaded QB.
The Ravens and Browns rank second and third, respectively, in targets allowed to slot receivers this season. That sets the stage for Jarvis Landry to continue seeing double-digit targets and also offers a buy-low window opportunity for Willie Snead IV as a value in DFS single-game contests. Snead leads the team in targets from the slot (31) — before he was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, he was second on the team in targets dating back to the team’s bye week.
This game should also be a solid opportunity for J.K. Dobbins to get more use as the team’s unquestioned bell cow. He led the team in snaps (23) and carries (13) for a second consecutive game in Week 13. Mark Ingram’s return had little to no impact on Dobbins' workload.
But he still remains an RB2 because of his lack work as a receiver — the mobile quarterback corollary strikes again. And the matchup is subpar. The Browns have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs over the past four weeks.
Mark Andrews is my TE2 overall on the week because he has by far the best matchup. The Browns have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends this season and would actually rank No. 1 had it not been for Darren Waller’s explosion last week versus the Jets.
Andrews has caught four touchdown passes in his last two games against Cleveland.