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Sleeper Starts and Duds: Week 14 (Fantasy Football)

Dec 7, 2018

Kenneth Dixon is behind Gus Edwards, but he could still provide owners value on Sunday

In case you missed it, Derrick Henry single-handedly beat the Jaguars on Thusrday as he rumbled for 238 yards and four touchdowns. It was a game to remember, but it also could have been crushing if you faced him in fantasy. If you weren’t lucky enough to get a bye in week one of the fantasy playoffs, and you’re in need of a big weekend, there’s no need to fret.

Our featured experts below are naming players that could surprise and give you that winning edge while also pointing out who could underperform despite their higher ranking in the consensus.

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Q1. Who is a player outside of our top 100 flex rankings that is a deep sleeper start and why do you think he has upside this week?

Kenneth Dixon (RB – BAL)
Gus Edwards is still the lead back in Baltimore, so Dixon is definitely a roll of the dice play this week. Dixon was the Ravens’ No. 2 back last week and he tallied eight rushing attempts for 37 yards. The Kansas City Chiefs are allowing the 2nd most points to fantasy running backs and the only way Baltimore can win this game is if they control the game on the ground. If Dixon can see 10-12 carries in this matchup with one or two big runs or a touchdown, he may be able to have dark sleeper appeal.”
– Derek Lofland (Fantasy Football Maniax)

“I really feel like Derrick Henry is going to have one of those historic games . . . Fine, since I can’t choose Henry, I’ll go with Kenneth Dixon, who had eight touches last week despite playing just 17 snaps. The Ravens are going to try to run the ball as much as possible against the Chiefs, who struggle mightily against opposing running backs. Gus Edwards will lead the way but he’s a total zero as a pass-catching back, opening the door for Dixon, as well as Ty Montgomery. We know Dixon has talent, and given his workload in his first game back and the matchup, he could be someone who has a big impact in Week 14.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Marquise Goodwin (WR – SF)
“After being away from the team for a few weeks, Marquise Goodwin has rejoined the team and will play this week. Keep in mind that his absence was not injury-related. The last time he was on the field with Nick Mullens, he totaled four catches for 69 yards on five targets in a tough matchup against the Giants. The Broncos aren’t a tough matchup anymore, as they have Bradley Roby and Isaac Yiadom starting on the perimeter, a duo that’s allowed seven touchdowns on 89 targets in coverage and 15.5 yards per receptions in their coverage. Neither cornerback has elite speed to keep up with Goodwin down the field and the Broncos have allowed 49 pass plays of 20-plus yards, which ranks as the third-most in the league. Goodwin is far from a sure thing, but this matchup suits him well.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Giovani Bernard (RB – CIN)
“Last week vs. Denver, Bernard played 41% of the snaps and garnered 8 targets (plus 5 carries). The Bengals were underdogs for that one, and a trip to L.A. (Chargers) has them as much bigger long-shots: +14. While his ceiling isn’t very high, Bernard’s role certainly grows if the Bolts run up the score. QB Jeff Driskel looks like an asset, too, as his average depth of target sits at just 7.5 yards through 82 attempts.”
– Kevin English (Draft Sharks)

Ty Montgomery (RB – BAL)
“If you are desperate, Derrick Henry might have a decent week. Oh wait, I can’t use that one? My choice is Ty Montgomery, who may not be the safest bet, but has plenty of upside in an ideal matchup and expected game script. We know Gus Edwards isn’t going to catch any passes so Montgomery could see plenty of action against a Chiefs defense that has allowed as much through the air to running backs as any team in football.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Q2. On the flip side, what player inside the top 40 flex rankings is likely to disappoint fantasy owners this week?

Spencer Ware (RB – KC)
“The difference between RB Kareem Hunt and Ware is that Hunt was so explosive, that he could dominate a game with just a couple big plays, making him matchup proof. Ware is not matchup proof and the Ravens are first against fantasy running backs. Ware didn’t have a monster game in a great matchup against Oakland last week so I have my doubts with him against the best fantasy running back defense in the NFL.”
– Derek Lofland (Fantasy Football Maniax)

Spencer Ware saved his day last week with a touchdown, but he gained just 47 yards on 14 carries against a poor Oakland defense. Now he’ll go against a Ravens team that allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Charcandrick West, who knows the Chiefs’ system well, is back in the fold, and could cut into Ware’s work, which further dims his start. Any running back on the Chiefs is worth starting in most fantasy lineups regardless of the matchup, but if I’m looking at someone who could disappoint in week 14, Ware tops the list.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC)
“I can’t knock his matchup, as the Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to RBs. But Ekeler’s workload is a bit tenuous after a poor week 13 (13 carries, 21 yards; 5 catches, 22 yards). Head coach Anthony Lynn even provided some backfield insight earlier this week. “He [Ekeler] is wearing down a bit. He’s a core special teams guy for us and he’s played a lot of running back for us. So he’s a little tired. You might see Justin [Jackson] play a little bit more. You might see [Detrez] Newsome play some this week.”
– Kevin English (Draft Sharks)

David Johnson (RB – ARI)
“I’ll say that David Johnson is likely to disappoint. He’s scored just one rushing touchdown on his last 113 carries, which is bad territory. By comparison, the Bears defense has allowed one touchdown per 82.0 carries this year. The Lions have been straight-up dominant against the run since acquiring defensive tackle Damon Harrison, though Todd Gurley was able to post great numbers last week. The three prior weeks, they’d allowed just 124 rushing yards on 44 carries (2.82 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Prior to acquiring Harrison, they allowed 812 yards on 137 carries (5.93 yards per carry) with four touchdowns in six games. Unless the Cardinals involve him in the passing-game more than they have the last few weeks (8 targets the last three games), Johnson is likely to disappoint.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
“Chubb makes me nervous this week with a matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Granted, he has been dynamite since taking over the job in place of Carlos Hyde, but last week, they trimmed him down to just 9 carries. What many likely missed is that his four big games were against Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Cincinnati, who are four of the easiest matchups for a running back. The Panthers, meanwhile, are a pass-funnel defense and the game script may cause Chubb to see only a dozen touches instead of the usual 20+.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving their sleeper starts and duds for week 14 Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.

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