Week 14: Who We Like

In conjunction with Sean Koerner’s “Week 14 Tiers” piece, I’m highlighting some players at each position that we particularly like or dislike. The methodology is: I compare our ranking for standard scoring to the expert consensus ranking, as of the TNF game (https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/rankings/qb.php). Remember that everything is relative! If we “dislike” an elite WR, it doesn’t mean you should bench him, just that we like him a little bit less than a couple other elite WRs. A player may be a good daily fantasy play due to his minimum price, while still not worthy of starting in 12-team leagues. This article was published after the Thursday game ended, so it will not include any Raiders and Chiefs players, even though they are included in the rankings.

QB We Like

Matt Stafford, DET (vs. CHI)

  • STATS Rank: 2
  • Expert Consensus Rank: 6

Detroit has one of the highest team totals this weekend (25.5) against the tanking Bears. They also have no run game to speak of. Stafford should move the ball with ease and is one of 3 QBs we project for 2+ TD. He should be a chalky daily fantasy pick, but his expert ranking indicates he may be under-owned.

Colin Kaepernick, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 11
  • ECR: 17

Would I start him in a 12-team head-to-head matchup, with my season on the line? No. But he has massive upside against a Jets secondary that had no clue how to defend and no interest in doing so against the Colts last week. He’s a nice high reward GPP play – plug him in and hope that grip issues in the snow last weekend were responsible for his off night.

QB We Don’t Like

Drew Brees, NO (@ TB)

  • STATS: 8
  • ECR: 1

Tampa’s defense has been awesome recently, limiting Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers in two consecutive weeks, with 2 INTs in each game. It’ll be tougher to totally shut down Brees, but they should minimize his production enough to prevent him from putting up one of the top scores of the week. The only fantasy relevant QBs more likely to throw INTs are Palmer, Rivers, and Big Ben.

Philip Rivers, SD (@ CAR)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 11

San Diego is only expected to score around 22 points, which is lower than any team with an elite QB not named Aaron Rodgers. San Diego loves to punch it in at the goal line (Gordon 10 rush TD vs. Rivers 25 pass TD), so if they don’t score that much, that’s bad for Rivers. He’s more of a QB2 than a QB1 against a decent defense.

RB We Like

Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 13
  • ECR: 16

He’s been productive over his last 3, averaging 17.3 carries for 81.0 yards with some catches mixed in. Those were all games the 49ers lost, with 2 of the 3 featuring “catch-up” offense mode. In a rare occurrence, San Fran is actually favored this weekend, so Hyde could get a chance to flash RB1 type ability.

Robert Kelley, WAS (@ PHI)

  • STATS: 14
  • ECR: 22

Philadelphia’s defense is slipping a bit, and they’re only mediocre against the run (4.1 YPC allowed). Fat Rob is now a workhorse back who we project for 18.5 carries, the same as players like Matt Forte and Jay Ajayi. That’s enough to make him a high end RB2 in a neutral matchup.

RB We Don’t Like

LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. PIT)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 4

He’s been so good recently, but for some reason, Buffalo has been giving Mike Gillislee goal-line carries. In fact, they announced that Gillislee is their goal-line back. It’s tough to rank McCoy in the top 5 when he’s not a 3-down, goal-line back. It’s especially tough to do so in a game when Buffalo is only expected to score 22 points.

Doug Martin, TB (vs. NO)

  • STATS: 26
  • ECR: 16

He’s expected to lose work to Jacquizz Rodgers, which takes him out of definite RB2 consideration for us. As bad as New Orleans is against the pass, they’re much better against the run, with under 4 YPC allowed and the 11th fewest yards allowed in football.

WR We Like

Demaryius Thomas, DEN (@ TEN)

  • STATS: 11
  • ECR: 16

We like both of Denver’s WRs and consider them both borderline WR1 IF Siemian ends up playing. Tennessee quietly has a bad, bottom-10 pass defense. Thomas and Sanders get such a large share of Denver’s receiving yardage and should combine for around 140 of Siemian’s 240 or so yards.

Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs. DEN)

  • STATS: 23
  • ECR: 39

This pick is more of a “we don’t hate him as much” type of pick. Yes, he’ll see a lot of Talib and Harris, but somebody will need to be on the receiving end of Mariota’s expected 200-225 yards. Also, Tennessee is expected to put up 22 points, which is low, but not “Denver ruined everybody’s fantasy day” low.

WR We Don’t Like

Golden Tate, Det (vs. CHI)

  • STATS: 19
  • ECR: 13

He’s been good recently and a target monster, so he’s still a WR2 that you should not bench. But he’ll go often against the strength of Chicago’s defense, which is Tracy Porter. We think the targets and yardage will be a bit more spread out than usual, and, relatively speaking, guys like Eric Ebron are better value plays and Stafford stack partners.

Brandon Marshall, NYJ (@ SF)

  • STATS: 25
  • ECR: 21

He put up 15 yards last time Fitzpatrick wasn’t the starter, and he has only really shown chemistry with Fitzpatrick over the last couple years. The Jets have one of the lowest totals of the week at 20.5, so Marshall is looking at a lower share of a lower scoring game. That takes him out of our top 24.

TE We Like

Eric Ebron, Det (vs. CHI)

  • STATS: 7
  • ECR: 9

We’re in-line with consensus at the top of the position, and Ebron is the closest thing we have to a sleeper. Stafford will produce against the Bears, but Porter may shut down Tate while Marvin Jones is still at least partially banged up. That leaves a lot of production for Ebron to absorb, making him a definite TE1.

Vance McDonald, SF (vs. NYJ)

  • STATS: 15
  • ECR: 19

He’s a GPP punt play and emergency season-long waiver add against a Jets D that gave up 3 TD to Dwayne Allen last week and had no idea how to defend the 2nd level.

TE We Don’t Like

Antonio Gates, SD (@ CAR)

  • STATS: 17
  • ECR: 11

He’s very TD dependent and hasn’t received more than 5 receptions in a game once this year. For the first time in a while, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, and Dontrelle Inman are all relatively healthy, as well. He gets a matchup downgrade if Luke Kuechly plays (currently questionable).