Three weeks ago, I explored the uneasiness of technically getting a call right, but only because of fluky, unforeseen reasons. It turns out being wrong with the right process stings much more.
In Week 13’s column, I feared Russell Wilson wouldn’t attempt enough passes in a blowout win over the 49ers. Those concerns manifested when he went 11-of-17 for 185 yards in a 43-16 triumph. It didn’t matter, because four of those completions ended in the end zone.
Managers will keep playing the hot hand in spite of unsustainable trends, but it could bite them during the fantasy playoffs. There’s especially risk of touchdown regression hitting Wilson this Monday night against the Vikings, who have tied the Jaguars by permitting an NFL-low 15 scores through the air. That’s why I again rank him (QB15) below his QB13 ECR.
A couple of other familiar names grace this week’s look at players I like noticeably more or less than the industry. In two other cases, I’m sticking with the same reasoning that panned out last week. While the end result is ultimately all that matters, the road there often reveals the legitimacy of those outcomes.
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Undervalued: Kirk Cousins (MIN at SEA) – ECR: QB18; My Rank: QB12
I’d rather start Kirk Cousins than Wilson if waiting for Monday night. In six games since their Week 7 bye, the Seahawks have surrendered 309.7 passing yards per contest. Each opposing quarterback has posted two passing touchdowns and at least 17 fantasy points. That includes Nick Mullens, who enjoyed a career-high 414 yards after looking like the undrafted rookie he is against Tampa Bay. Cousins nevertheless isn’t attracting significant confidence after going 32-for-44 with 201 yards, a touchdown, and a pick against the Patriots. Let’s hope for a healthier Stefon Diggs, who nearly missed Week 13’s game after his knee swelled up the night before. It’s fair to move Cousins closer to his QB15 ECR if Diggs sits, but the duo should otherwise have an eventful evening. He could also connect with Dalvin Cook for some big plays, as only the Chiefs have ceded more receiving yards to running backs than the Seahawks (747). He’s this season’s QB12 despite some inconsistencies, and he’s encountering an increasingly vulnerable secondary at the right time.
Overvalued: Jared Goff (LAR at CHI) – ECR: QB10; My Rank: QB13
This isn’t the first time singling out Goff, and it hasn’t always gone well before. The industry has accounted for the difficult matchup by slotting him four spots below his current QB6 placement. It’s not enough of a drop. Chicago leads the NFL with 21 interceptions while ranking third in yards per pass (6.6) and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (14.6). A fair counterpoint, however, is that the Bears have benefited from a favorable schedule after allowing over 20 fantasy points to the holy triumphant of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Brock Osweiler. Goff, as a result, would still merit a top-10 ranking if playing at home. Yet he’s averaging 259.2 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game on the road. He finished just one of those six games (Week 9’s 45-35 loss to the Saints) as a top-12 quarterback, and a cold Chicago night probably won’t help the California native. Managers will feel loyalty to Goff for leading them to the playoffs, but Lamar Jackson is more likely to guide them to an opening-round triumph.
Undervalued: Adrian Peterson (WAS vs. NYG) – ECR: RB22; My Rank: RB16
This is 100 percent about the matchup. Adrian Peterson has lost touches (19, 16, 14, 9) in each of the last three games. Already playing without guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao, Washington also lost Jonathan Cooper and Tony Bergstrom on Monday night. They’re down to third-stringer Mark Sanchez, so defenses should load up the box to stop the 33-year-old rusher. Yet the Giants are bad enough to overlook all those red flags. They have allowed more than 110 rushing yards in each of the last five games since trading Damon Harrison. While they snapped a six-game stretch of relinquishing a rushing touchdown, that’s only because Tarik Cohen was too busy burning them with a dozen catches and a passing score that sent Week 13’s game into overtime. They will now also play without Landon Collins after the Giants placed the run-stopping specialist on the injured reserve. Peterson became the first of five straight running backs to bludgeon Big Blue for a top-12 finish when producing 156 yards and two touchdowns in Week 8. He’s since averaging a pedestrian 59 yards per game despite breaking off a 90-yard score on Monday night, but the opponent makes him a strong RB2 regardless.
Overvalued: James White (NE at MIA) – ECR: RB18; My Rank: RB22
James White’s bottom line didn’t suffer much from Rex Burkhead’s return. He caught seven of nine targets for 92 yards in addition to gaining 26 rushing yards in Week 13’s win over the Vikings. Yet he’s not entirely out of the clear. His snap percentage, which was already dipping before Burkhead’s return, dropped to a season-low 44.6 percent. He also owes plenty of Sunday’s success to an inconsequential 42-yard catch to end the opening half. Adding to these concerns, the Patriots are heavy favorites who can ride Sony Michel to a road win against the Dolphins. It may pan out much like their 27-13 triumph over the Jets when Michel handled 21 carries while White settled for nine handoffs and a catch. Throwing Burkhead into the mix creates enough uncertainty to remove White from the non-PPR top 20.
Undervalued: Adam Humphries (TB vs. NO) – ECR: WR27; My Rank: WR22
Seriously, what is it going to take? Adam Humphries posted a touchdown for the third straight game, giving him five in the last five contests. He’s the WR11 with 0.3 points fewer than Mike Evans since the start of Week 5. He has also matched Evans with nine red-zone targets this season, and eight of them have come over the past six games. Oh yeah, he’s playing the Saints, who have surrendered the most fantasy points per game (30.8) to wide receivers. Chris Godwin would see a bigger boost from DeSean Jackson (thumb) sitting again, but it’d help elevate Humphries’ already solid floor. He has cleared 50 yards in six straight games for the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense, so keep starting him in all formats.
Overvalued: Tyler Lockett (SEA vs. MIN) – ECR: WR20; My Rank: WR25
Anyone who skipped the introduction should scroll back up. I’m weary of Wilson’s touchdown magic expiring on Monday night. Those fears directly affect Tyler Lockett, who has found the end zone in nine games this season. Scoring a 52-yard touchdown on his only catch in two Week 13 targets perfectly encapsulates his season. He’s averaging 4.6 targets per game and has turned 20.5 percent of his receptions (9 of 44) into touchdowns. Antonio Brown leads the NFL with a dozen touchdowns on 14.8 percent of his 81 catches. There’s some doomsday potential for Lockett against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings, who rank ninth in passing defense with only nine of their touchdowns permitted to wide receivers.
Undervalued: C.J. Uzomah (CIN at LAC) – ECR: TE15; My Rank: TE13
This is a case of not liking any tight ends in this range. There are only seven guys I’d feel remotely confident starting this week, and even that list includes some players (Rob Gronkowski, Jared Cook, and David Njoku) with considerable downside. Averaging 26.7 yards per game this season without a touchdown since Week 7, C.J. Uzomah is far from a safe choice. He has also, however, drawn 23 targets over the last three games while playing all but one snap. The Chargers haven’t ceded over 55 yards to any tight end besides George Kittle, so it’s certainly not a matchup to target. Then again, Jeff Driskel may need to constantly dump it off to his security blanket as he fleas from Joey Bosa. Although Uzomah hasn’t made much of his looks, simply getting them is a solid start. Trey Burton, perched one spot above him as the ECR’s TE14, wasn’t targeted once last Sunday. Keep in mind that Mark Andrews was last week’s TE13 with 47 yards, so this hardly qualifies as a breakout endorsement.
Overvalued: Cameron Brate (TB vs. NO) – ECR: TE8; My Rank: TE11
Can I just copy and paste last week’s section? Here’s some bad news for those unimpressed by Cameron Brate catching three of six targets for 36 yards against the Panthers: Those all either matched (catches) or set new season highs. He mishandled a potential touchdown grab, so the result is a dud. That was against a team that entered Week 13 allowing the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. (They fell to third). Brate now draws the Saints, who have surrendered the second-fewest (4.4) to the position. Andrews — on his lone catch of Week 7’s encounter — is the only tight end to find the end zone against them. O.J. Howard, who tallied 54 yards in Week 1, is the only tight end to clear 50 against them all season. If Zach Ertz can only muster 15 yards against them, what chance does Brate have? Given the state of the position, some managers have little choice but to cross their fingers for a touchdown. Yet’s it’s far from a comfortable bet.
*Note: TE rankings do not account for Jaylen Samuels since not all experts ranked him there.
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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.