6 Interesting Tidbits for Week 14 (Fantasy Football)
The fantasy playoffs begin in most formats this week, so no need to dilly-dally! Let’s jump right in and take a look at the surprises, stats, and trends entering Week 14, and how they might help your fantasy team get to the promised land.
Spencer Ware notches 15 touches for just 52 total yards in his first 2018 start
Those who handcuffed Kareem Hunt with Ware, or managed to snag him off waivers last week, were no doubt excited at Ware’s prospects as the new lead back for the Chiefs in a plum spot against the hapless Raiders. But while Ware was able to punch one in at the goal line for a respectable fantasy score, he otherwise compiled an underwhelming 47 rushing yards on 14 carries and one catch for another five yards.
Many were optimistic that Ware could step in as a near one-for-one swap with Hunt, but it’s pretty clear that won’t be the case. Andy Reid already indicated he wants a dreaded running back by committee with Ware, Damien Williams and Darrel Williams, and Kansas City has since added old friend Charcandrick West to their stable of backs as well.
Of course, in the Chiefs’ offensive juggernaut, Ware should still be plenty useful, and he did play 71% of the snaps, which was right around Hunt’s season average. That number figures to dip moving forward, though, and Kansas City’s ground game gets a tough draw against Baltimore’s defense in Week 14, a squad that ranks third in rushing yards allowed per game (87.3), sixth in rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.8), and first in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Still, the Chiefs are favored by a touchdown at home with a 30-point implied total, so Ware has a reasonable shot of hitting pay dirt again, and chances are he’s still cracking your lineup. He just might not be the golden ticket many were hoping for.
Jackson and Allen only have three and seven starts under their belts, respectively, but the two have quickly climbed the rushing ranks in recent weeks, with only Cam Newton showing more rushing yards for the season among quarterbacks (450). After running for over 70 yards in all three starts, Jackson is already up to 404 rushing yards, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pass Newton in the next week or two. On the other hand, Allen has taken a bit longer to get his running game going, but after collecting a whopping 234 rushing yards over the last two games, he’s up to a hefty 389 himself.
Neither one has shown as much success in the passing game — they’ve both thrown more interceptions than touchdowns — but that’s practically icing on the cake when they’re running like this. Jackson hasn’t thrown for 200 yards in a game yet, but he’s still surpassed 15 fantasy points in all his starts. Meanwhile, Allen has demonstrated the ceiling all this running can bring, exceeding 26 fantasy points in back to back games.
Both quarterbacks are solid options in deep leagues, and there’s a good chance Allen could still be available for this week’s home start against the Jets. He’s a suitable backup plan if you’ve been relying on Jackson, as there’s still the possibility that Jackson and Flacco split quarterback duties against the Chiefs this week.
Aaron Rodgers is just the ninth-best quarterback in fantasy points this season, but draws the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14
Speaking of quarterbacks, a few weeks back we brought up how Rodgers was just the QB9 entering Week 11, and not a whole lot has changed since then. As the first quarterback taken in most drafts, Rodgers’ results have been underwhelming to say the least, failing to hit 20 fantasy points in eight of 12 games this season. He’s coming off two of his worst performances of the year, scoring just 11.9 and 15.3 fantasy points against the Vikings and Cardinals, so you can hardly be blamed if you’ve been starting a hot waiver wire pickup like Jameis Winston instead.
But with Mike McCarthy done in Green Bay, perhaps this finally breathes new life into the Packers’ offense. And arguably more importantly, Rodgers will face the Falcons this week, who have toiled at the bottom of the DVOA rankings all year and have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Packers are 6.0-point home favorites and the game is currently sporting a solid 49 over/under, giving this one some shootout potential as well.
This looks like the right time to jump back on board with Rodgers, and although a tougher matchup on the road against the Bears is up next in Week 15, a big performance here would go a long way towards giving us renewed faith in Rodgers for the rest of the fantasy playoffs.
David Johnson owns the second-highest market share of carries and targets in the league (42%)
After some exciting initial returns under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Johnson has curiously seen three or fewer targets in each of the last three games, and has been held to single-digit fantasy points in PPR formats in two straight. While the recent decrease in passing game work is discouraging, the good news is Johnson continues to own one of the highest workloads in the league. His 42% market share of carries and targets is the second-best in the league, trailing only Ezekiel Elliott, and that number has risen to nearly 46% in the five games with Leftwich. He also ranks third in rushing attempts, and has seen at least 20 carries in three of those last five games.
Despite all that volume, playing on a poor offense like Arizona’s continues to be an issue, as he hasn’t scored in three straight weeks, and doesn’t see nearly as many red zone carries as the position’s elite. Still, he’s seen nearly 77% percent of the Cardinals’ red zone carries, the league’s third-highest percentage, so when the opportunities are there, he’s the one getting them.
As luck would have it, he gets plus draws against the Lions, Falcons, and Rams coming up, who all rank in the bottom third of the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt. While it’s safe to say at this point that the 2016 David Johnson won’t be joining us this year, Johnson could still come through in the clutch based on his elite usage and favorable fantasy playoff schedule.
Tyler Lockett is averaging under five targets per game, but has scored a touchdown in nine of 12 games
Lockett continues to defy the regression gods with his touchdown barrage, scoring in nine of 12 games in spite of averaging a modest 4.7 targets per game with a target market share under 18%. He’s seen over six targets once all year, and tied a season low with just two in Week 13, even though he came through yet again with a 52-yard touchdown.
Look, if you’ve been relying on Lockett, chances are his production is part of the reason you’re in the playoffs and you might not have a better option, but just be wary that he could pull the rug out from under us when it matters most. Minnesota doesn’t make for an easy matchup this week, ranking ninth in passing yards allowed per game, 11th in DVOA against the pass, and sixth in fantasy points allowed per game to wideouts in standard leagues. Maybe Lockett breaks one again this week, but don’t forget the floor remains low if he doesn’t hit pay dirt. He ranks just 57th in receptions and has one 100-yard game this season.
The Saints’ defense hasn’t allowed 20 points in four straight games and Tampa Bay leads the league in interceptions (23)
We mentioned the Jaguars’ defense as a potential playoff stash last week, and as it turns out they were a pleasant surprise in Week 13, holding the red-hot Colts scoreless on their way to a DST2 finish. That gives us a little more peace of mind in using them this week against Tennessee, who have allowed the second-most sacks in the league (42). It’s worth noting the Jags’ defense hasn’t been as effective on the road, though, so there’s still some risk.
But if you’re still scouring the wire for a potential streamer, the Saints have held their own ever since their shootout with the Rams in Week 9. In the four games since, they’ve held the Bengals, Eagles, Falcons, and Cowboys each under 20 points, and actually lead all defenses in sacks and fantasy points over that span.
While Winston and the Bucs can put up points, Winston isn’t exactly a stranger to interceptions, and between him and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay has thrown the most picks in the league (23). The Bucs are also one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league, which is also what we want to accumulate sacks and turnovers. In a game with a week-high 56-point over/under, the Saints’ defense might be an unconventional choice, but one that could be available with sneaky upside.