Not all fantasy football decisions are easy. Sure, starting San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey is something you’re doing weekly, but those decisions at the top of the board aren’t usually the difference in your tight matchups.
It’s the fantasy start ’em, sit ’em quandaries that have you waking up in a cold sweat that ultimately make a big difference.
Fantasy Start ‘Em Picks for Week 14
Brock Purdy, QB San Francisco 49ers (vs. SEA)
The MVP favorite in some spots has turned in three top-six finishes in four weeks since the bye. That’s great. The less great part of that stat is the fact that the outlier performance came against the Seahawks in Week 12 (30 passes netted just 209 yards and a single score).
The 7.0 yards per pass in that game is the second least efficient day of the season, but much like I’m not buying into a single-game sample for Smith, I’m not doing it here for Brock Purdy. He lit up these ‘Hawks for 330 yards and three scores on 18 completions in the Wild Card win last season, showcasing the type of form that we’ve seen from him recently.
I’m generally of the belief that home/road splits are noisy, but I’m pro-Purdy this week (QB8), so I’m going to casually mention that he is averaging 31.8% more yards per pass at home than on the road this season.
AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers (at NYG)
An 18-carry, 73-yard performance against the Kansas City Chiefs isn’t the type of game you’re celebrating. AJ Dillon probably didn’t win you your week with that game, but if you watched the game, there was a nice theme that developed that we haven’t seen in weeks past.
Week 13 vs. Chiefs
- Gained yardage on 94.4% of carries
- Gained 3+ yards on 72.2% of carries
- Gained 4+ yards on 55.6% of carries
Baby steps! For a physical runner like Dillon, the ability to fall forward is a nice development, especially playing alongside a thriving Love. He was trusted with 85.7% of Green Bay’s running back carries on Sunday night. In a matchup against the third-worst per-carry run defense in the league, Dillon moves up to a fine RB2 for me.
He loses the ceiling battle, but the role has him in the conversation for the most valuable running back in this game.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Dallas Cowboys (vs. PHI)
The veteran receiver is at it again. No team is overly interested in keeping him, and yet, all he does is produce. He has now scored in three of his past four games — five of his past seven — establishing himself as the WR2 in this high-powered offense.
He wasn’t used much in this offense when these teams first met (two targets, ranking him behind WRs Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert), but his elevation up this depth chart has him in a good spot to pick on Philadelphia’s weak pass defense.
Over those last four games, Brandin Cooks owns an 87% catch rate while averaging 16.6 yards per catch. Those are positive trends to take into a matchup against an Eagles defense that allows the fifth-highest opponent aDOT. Meanwhile, Cooks’ aDOT easily outpaces that of Lamb, Gallup, and Ferguson.
Cooks is a low-end WR2 for me this week — the highest I’ve had him ranked this season by at least a half-dozen spots.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens (vs. LAR)
You hear “trust the process” a lot these days — I’m tempted to do just that with Isaiah Likely. After being a popular addition in Week 12 following the Mark Andrews ankle injury, Likely was a volume drop this time last week.
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I’m assuming it was mostly to do with the Week 13 bye than it was a four-catch, 40-yard effort against the Chargers. The performance wasn’t overwhelming, but a 20% target share isn’t a bad starting point, given the potency of this offense.
Two other notes that shouldn’t be overlooked. The first is straightforward: Todd Monken and company had the bye week to tweak their system to adjust to the strengths of Likely as opposed to Andrews. The second requires a little more reflection.
Likely posted an aDOT lower than one foot in Week 12. Not one yard. One foot. Some people will run from a number like that due to a lack of upside, but I’m running toward it. A role like that can elevate his value at a position where a viable floor is tough to find, but more importantly, it speaks to the desire to get him the ball in space.
This season, Evan Engram, Dalton Kincaid, and Jake Ferguson are among the TEs with a sub-6.0 aDOT, all of whom offer weekly value. I’m not saying Likely will produce at a level comparable to those options, but I do think he is closer to them than he is to those his name is next to on your waiver wire.
Fantasy Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 14
Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions (at CHI)
In 12 games this season, Jared Goff has returned QB1 production five times. Three of those games came at home, and the other two came against bottom-six defenses in terms of yards per pass attempt allowed.
This matchup is neither.
Goff was picked off three times in a dreadful effort against these Bears in Week 11 (35 attempts, he has five interceptions on 395 attempts against the rest of the NFL) and hasn’t posted a finish better than QB8 since Week 6.
I don’t think the floor is terribly low given that a league-high 75.2% of yards gained against Chicago come through the air. But I also don’t think we get a peak Goff performance against a sneaky good defense that is coming off a bye.
He checks in as my QB13 this week, in the same range as his divisional counterparts Joshua Dobbs and Jordan Love, but of whom are rostered in far fewer leagues.
Devin Singletary, RB, Houston Texans (at NYJ)
Devin Singletary’s the lead back in this offense, but not by a wide margin. Last week, he handled the first two drives, but when all was said and done, his edge in snaps was just 31-26 (14-8 advantage in routes run).
Singletary’s path to mattering for fantasy purposes is via the passing game, and his role in that regard is why I have him a handful of spots higher than Dameon Pierce. However, neither is anything more than a low-end Flex option for me.
Singletary has two big games this season, and they’re his only games with more than 58 rushing yards. This offensive line is prohibitive in a major way, so if we are banking on 2-3 targets to drive his value, the floor/ceiling math just isn’t favorable.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks (at SF)
I understand the name value that comes with Tyler Lockett. I understand that premature evaluation is never a good thing and that you’re worried about benching a proven big-play threat the week he goes off. I get all of that.
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Blame me if you need to.
Lockett hasn’t had a catch gaining more than 20 yards since mid-October and has turned 20 targets into just 128 yards over his past three games. We haven’t seen splash plays despite consistent looks (7+ targets in five of his past six games), so why would we expect that to change against an elite defense?
I think he’s more likely to repeat his 6.9 fantasy point performance against these 49ers last postseason than Metcalf is his 30.6-point effort. The argument for Lockett is “because I always play him,” and if you’re making decisions under that train of thought, you’ve already lost.
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