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Crystal Ball Week 14 2018
By Evan Tarracciano
With Week 13 officially in the rear-view mirror and the Fantasy Football playoffs beginning in the vast majority of leagues, the time is now for owners to hunker down and do some lineup preparation and planning. Working under the assumption that their team will make it a round or two, examining beneficial scheduling matchups coupled with finalizing roster spots should be top priority heading into Thursday’s contest.
To borrow the phrase from my fellow Sirius XM compatriots Joe Dolan and Matt Camp, Week 13 had its fair share of “sick of this” moments, from James Develin’s two vulture touchdowns murdering Sony Michel’s “could have been” performance, to the Chicago Bears going full-on troll mode and handing the ball to Fridge 2.0 at the goal line against the New York Giants. I’d like to assume that these (coupled with at least a dozen other examples) won’t occur again in Week 14, but we all know what happens when one assumes, don’t we.
Fantasy sports at its very core is an inexact science. Knowing ahead of time what would happen defeats the variability involved and the element of luck and injuries. As I’ve stated before in several articles, being able to adapt is key.
This past week I squared off against a friend of mine in a win-and-in scenario. The matchup was projected to be quite close at first glance, with my team only holding a slight advantage in theoretical points. Similar to mine, his roster was top-heavy with studs, namely Ezekiel Elliott, DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. Smart waiver wire moves landed him Jared Cook, Josh Adams and Marcell Ateman. I knew that I was in for a fight.
With news breaking that Josh Adams was limited in practice after suffering a hip injury on Saturday afternoon, I was surprised that he remained in my opponents running back, rather than FLEX slot. The FLEX is simply that – versatility personified. Keeping him entrenched in the running back slot meant that he was risking a donut if Adams sat on Sunday, especially with other Philadelphia Eagles backs already on other squads. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I initially had Keke Coutee in my starting lineup, but made sure to place him in the FLEX slot rather than WR should he be ruled out with a hamstring setback. After it was reported that he was going to sit against the Cleveland Browns I swapped him out for David Moore instead. Granted, this move net me zero points in the long run, but at least I had the opportunity to make a change.
Another playoff bound roster in our league had the foresight to add the Los Angeles Chargers DST two weeks ago, prior to the return of stud DL Joey Bosa. At that point the team was owned in less than 20 percent of leagues (according to ESPN), but the stretch run was certainly favorable. Now their ownership has spiked above 80 percent owned, and they have the third highest projected points this week. As an additional benefit to the schedule, he won’t have to compete against other teams looking to drop an inordinate amount of their remaining FAAB on streaming options. Peace of mind secured!
Plenty of other analysts and writers have also begun to reinforce the notion of handcuffing your RB1/RB2 slots, if there is a consensus option. This was especially beneficial for owners who added Austin Ekeler to pair with Melvin Gordon, Jaylen Samuel for James Conner and Spencer Ware for Kareem Hunt (among others). Knowing that you have the additional insurance should the need arise is worth the spot at the end of one’s roster. Though not all running backs need to be handcuffed, the top 15-20 options certainly do. A full listing of suitable options can be found on this site.
Since the most common questions that I receive each week stem from waiver wire pickups, here are a few players that I wanted to discuss briefly that are worthy of a last-ditch inclusion, if necessary.
QuarterbackJosh Allen – There is really only one quarterback worth mentioning here, and I’ll preface things by saying this – Unless you are truly desperate and have little faith in your current signalcaller, I wouldn’t make a change at this point. Allen has been nothing short of fantastic the last two weeks, but his statistics have been greatly bolstered by his unexpected rushing totals, not by the strength of his receivers. The New York Jets are a tempting matchup and I’d rank him ahead of other “starters” like Carson Wentz or Matthew Stafford, but he does come with a fair amount of risk.
Running BackJaylen Samuels – Without question, Samuels is the top add this week for teams who are looking to fill a void. James Conner has already been ruled OUT for Week 14 with an ankle injury, leaving the hyped-rookie from North Carolina State as the incumbent. Mike Tomlin went out of his way to praise Samuels after Week 13 ended, and although initial reports suggest that this will be some sort of a timeshare between himself and Stevan Ridley, I don’t envision a 50:50 split here. Samuels is an adept receiver out of the backfield and receives a bump-up in PPR formats, with Ridley being the short-yardage option. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very easy matchup against the Oakland Raiders in Week 14, and it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Samuels get 15-17 rushing attempts, 6-7 targets and a solid chance to hit paydirt. It also doesn’t hurt that he is tight-end eligible in Yahoo leagues!
Jeff Wilson – Jerick McKinnon – IR. Raheem Mostert – IR. Matt Brieda – Already declared out. Alfred Morris – PASS. In the war of attrition at running back, the San Francisco 49ers are in a major hole. Wilson played admirably enough when Matt Brieda’s ankle injury flared up last week, rushing for 61 yards on 15 attempts, coupled with eight receptions for 73 yards. Kyle Shanahan’s offensive mantra is to feed his running back the ball relentlessly, so Wilson actually has a reasonable floor as a safety net. The matchup against the Denver Broncos front line isn’t a cakewalk by any stretch (the team ranks 5th best in rushing yards allowed per game with 91), but as a volume play Wilson is a solid consideration.
Wide ReceiverDante Pettis – A Roto Wizard favorite, Pettis has been slowly coming on of late with Pierre Garcon’s injury issues and Marquise Goodwin’s availability. He found the end zone for the second week in a row, and has nine receptions the last two weeks, and is on the field for the vast majority of snaps for the San Francisco 49ers. Any receiver who is the team’s primary option at the position is worth rostering, even on a lackluster team. Wideout is thin at pickings this week, but Pettis would top my list of pickups.
Chris Godwin/Adam Humphries – I included Godwin here since he is technically owned in less than 50 percent of leagues, but in most competitive spots he is likely rostered. Regardless, both players will see an uptick in production after news broke that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without DeSean Jackson for the remainder of the season. Godwin is more of a red zone threat with Humphries being a volume-based play on a team that attempts more passes than any other. This duo has scored a combined four touchdowns over the last three weeks, and both should be owned and started in 12-team or deeper formats as FLEX options.
Tight EndIan Thomas – Greg Olsen will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury, thrusting Thomas once against into the limelight in Carolina. His production was ho-hum at best when filling in for spot duties previously, and he will find himself entrenched in the “touchdown reception or nothing” TE2 grouping that many owners are forced to sift through each week. The emergence of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, coupled with the shoulder injury to Cam Newton make Thomas a desperation play at best.
Defense and Special TeamsBuffalo – The Bills have surrendered more than 21 points just twice since Week 3, and have a takeaway in each game dating back to Week 8. The last time that they faced the New York Jets (even though it was on the road) they held the team to just 10 points and secured multiple interceptions. Now at home, the raucous table-diving crowd will provide plenty of background noise in the ear of either Sam Darnold or Josh McCown.
• Stay a week ahead on FAAB bids for streaming positions (DST, K)
• Maintain roster flexibility by placing questionable-tagged players or late starts in FLEX positions if possible, to allow switching if necessary
• Handcuff your running back options whenever possible if a clear-cut backup option is available
• Good luck!!!!