Tale of the Tape: Week 14 (Fantasy Football)
Welcome to Tale of the Tape, where we break down a handful of highlight GIFs from the week’s slate of NFL games and translate them into fantasy football relevance. If you see a highlight worth analyzing in the future, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @FantasySensei!
For now, let’s get into Week 14 of the NFL season!
Mohammed Sanu Balling Out Under the Radar
Are you a fantasy owner seeking a playoff glory-play in Week 15? How about Mohamed Sanu? This eight-yard score to tie Thursday’s contest with the Saints marked Sanu’s fourth receiving touchdown in the last seven games. And it’s not a fluke, as Sanu’s six receptions inside the 10-yard line trail only five players in football (all with seven). For whatever reason, Sanu is the go-to goal-to-go receiver Julio Jones should be. The cherry on top? Sanu and the Falcons get Tampa Bay – one of the absolute worst pass defenses in the league – next week in your semifinal matchup. Sanu had eight catches for 64 yards against the Bucs in Week 12. If he can snag a TD on top of that, he could be a great spot-start next Monday night.
Jack Doyle Scores in the Snow
You had to know we would work in a shot of this Buffalo blizzard, one of the most unbelievable in the NFL in recent memory. In a game almost completely devoid of offense, Jack Doyle snagged this little three-yard TD to send the game to overtime late in the fourth. He also caught the successful two-point conversion a play later, only to see it wiped by a penalty and replaced by one of the most unique PATs ever seen. Doyle has been streaky all season but draws a great matchup at home versus the Denver Broncos next week. In what will be much more temperate conditions in Lucas Oil Stadium, Doyle is a great streaming option or DFS play.
Rod Smith Runs Rampant
Good gracious. One of several surprise RBs to explode in Week 14, Rod Smith finished the week as the third-highest PPR scorer … at any position. Smith had six carries for 47 yards and a touchdown and led the team with five receptions for 113 yards and another score. While Alfred Morris is clearly the early-down back in Dallas, Smith has shined with his 9.4 touches per game in Ezekiel Elliott‘s absence. Zeke will be back in Week 16, which only leaves next week to viably start Smith. But against the porous Oakland Raiders defense, that may be a start worth considering.
Theo Riddick‘s the New Top Dog
I guess he’s technically the new top Lion, but let’s not get into semantics. With Ameer Abdullah handed a surprising spot on the bench this week (more “for play” than for injury reasons), Theo Riddick took over the Detroit backfield in force. The pass-catching specialist hauled in six of 10 targets for 64 yards and added 29 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. His second TD was easily his strongest run of the game, as Riddick shed just about the entire Bucs defense on an 18-yard scamper to pay-dirt. Monitor the backfield plans for next week and start Riddick if he earns the nod again.
J-Stew … Who Knew?
Had you asked nearly any expert to name the worst fantasy outlook for a “starter” for Week 14, quite a few would have named Jonathan Stewart against the stifling Vikings run defense. Apparently, Stewart had other plans. The aging veteran broke off a 60-yard touchdown and finished the day with 103 yards on 13 carries and, count them, three touchdowns. While chasing flukey points is rarely a wise fantasy strategy, Stewart faces the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Weeks 15 and 16. Both can be beat on the ground and Stewart could look to continue a current hot streak that includes six TDs in his last six games – one of which came against the Bucs.
O.J. Howard Continues Improved Play
Rookie tight ends aren’t usually worth more than a dynasty stash in fantasy, but O.J. Howard is rising up the ranks fairly quickly. Howard’s six targets on Sunday were the highest of his career and second-most on the team behind DeSean Jackson‘s seven. His 54 receiving yards on four catches made for his third game of 50-plus over the last four weeks and he also caught his fifth touchdown of the season. While Howard’s long-term keeper value is certainly higher than his redraft value in the fantasy playoffs, Howard does face the Falcons in Week 15, who he beat for 52 yards on three catches in Week 12. In a rough tight end landscape, you could do worse for a longshot streamer.
Demaryius Thomas Comes Through
Fantasy owners who’ve been lamenting Demaryius Thomas‘s poor 2017 season had to be pleased with 8-for-93 and this powerful TD grab on Sunday. Even those who expected a downturn with the Denver QB roulette have been disappointed with his low-end WR2 production, so this Week 14 breakout was a breath of fresh air. To be fair, the Jets’ defense is no juggernaut, and Trevor Siemian still hasn’t shown enough to offer much of a trust factor to Thomas’s fantasy outlook. But with the Colts on deck, there is certainly an open door for Thomas to post another solid fantasy performance in Week 15.
Tyrell Williams Torches Washington Secondary
With Keenan Allen back on the field, Tyrell Williams has seen a heavy reduction in role relative to his 2016 breakout. Fortunately, it didn’t take much for Williams to light up the Redskins in Week 14, taking this 75-yard bomb to the house en route to 132 yards and the TD. This is only Williams’s third stud fantasy performance on the season, so he’s another on the list of dart-throws in the fantasy playoffs. The reason he’s worth a look is that LA takes on Kansas City – one of the best WR matchups in the league – in a huge divisional game next week. With Philip Rivers at the hottest he’s been in years and the Chargers looking to make a statement in their surprising run for the AFC West title, Williams could bust another big play and pay off in Week 15.
Blake Bortles Becomes Waiver Wire Gold
That’s right. Blake Bortles. Your roster. Fantasy playoffs. Book it. Bortles diced up the Seahawks secondary for 268 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, including this 75-yard rainbow to Keelan Cole. That makes two stud performances in a row heading into a duo of dream matchups in Weeks 15 and 16: the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. Particularly if you’re a Carson Wentz owner or a regular streamer, Bortles is worth a high-priority add for the home stretch. It’s not necessarily what you dreamed, trusting Bortles to win you the league, but it’s a surpringly good bet.
Kenyan Drake Gashes Patriots in Upset
In the six games since the departure of Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake has posted 591 total yards (plus 20 receptions) and three total TDs. That’s 16.2 PPR points per game, which is well inside RB1 territory. His 79 receiving yards against New England on Monday night were a career high and his 114 rushing yards were second only to last week’s total of 120 against Denver. With Damien Williams sidelined (shoulder), Drake has been nigh unstoppable. He gets soft matchups in the Bills and Chiefs to wrap up the fantasy playoffs, making him a must-start and potential league-winner come Week 16.