5 Burning Questions: Week 14 (2019)
Congratulations! If your fantasy team is playing this week, you’ve most likely made the fantasy playoffs, or at least have a chance to get there next week. Everything counts now. Hopefully, your studs will continue playing like studs, and the guys you held on to for their late-season matchups will finally pay dividends. Here are my five burning fantasy questions for Week 14:
Will Dalvin Cook play? And will he be at 100%?
Dalvin Cook has been the most consistent fantasy producer outside of Christian McCaffrey this season. He’s currently the RB2 overall, and in most leagues, he didn’t have to be drafted until the second round. He’s likely a primary reason for your team being in the playoffs, so of course, he got injured in Week 13.
Cook injured his shoulder in the third quarter on Monday night against the Seahawks and sat out the rest of the game, though according to him, he could have come back in the game and his rest was just precautionary.
The Lions are a juicy matchup for the fantasy playoffs. They’ve given up the 10th most rushing yards and eighth-most points this season. While Cook is expected to play in this matchup, you have to wonder if the Vikings will be a bit more cautious with him and give more work to Alexander Mattison, especially if the Vikings acquire a big lead. Mattison has proven to be a more than adequate backup, averaging 4.8 yards on 86 carries this season. If Cook is playing, you have to start him, but expect his usage to take a bit of a hit from what we’re used to seeing.
What are the fantasy implications of the 49ers at Saints game?
Even with the Chiefs playing the Patriots, the most anticipated game of the week may be between the NFC elites, the Saints and the 49ers. The problem is, it’s really hard to tell where the fantasy points are going to come from. Michael Thomas has been a beacon of consistency for the Saints and for fantasy teams, but he was held to just six catches for 48 yards last week and the 49ers only give up 134 passing yards per game (that’s the fewest in the league by 30 yards). Alvin Kamara was drafted in the top four picks, but he’s only found the end zone twice the entire season and is currently the RB13.
On the 49ers side, they have a different running back and wide receiver lead them in rushing and receiving yards every week. It’s impossible to know who to start from their backfield, though Deebo Samuel is emerging as the number one option after Emmanuel Sanders’ one breakout performance.
You’re going to start Thomas and Kamara if you have them, but don’t expect this game to be flush with fantasy points as it features two top-10 defenses.
Is Odell Beckham Jr. going to break out against the Bengals?
If you drafted Odell Beckham Jr. and still made it to the playoffs, you deserve a pat on the back. Things just haven’t clicked for him with Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. He’s now gone six games in a row without reaching 100 yards, the longest stretch of his career. The good news is that he faces the Bengals this week, and if he’s going to have an OBJ worthy game, it’s going to be now. Until facing the Steelers last week, Baker Mayfield had been on a roll, throwing multiple touchdowns in three games in a row, and I think he’ll recover against a defense that gives up the second-most yards and ninth-most points in the league.
Beckham is averaging nine targets per game over his last four games. He’s being fed the ball, he just hasn’t been able to make a big splash. Rumors are circulating that he wants out of Cleveland after this bust of a season, but finishing on a strong note could ease a lot of tension. After all, the Browns still have a shot to make the playoffs.
Can Patrick Mahomes rebound against the Patriots?
In Patrick Mahomes’ last two games, he’s thrown two touchdowns, one interception, and didn’t top 200 passing yards in either of them. Now he faces the Patriots who’ll be looking to rebound from an awful loss to the Texans. Mahomes faced the Patriots twice last year (once in the regular season and once in the playoffs), and while he never beat them, he did throw a combined seven touchdowns.
While the Patriots’ defense ranks first and second in points and yards given up, they’ve struggled with mobile quarterbacks. Their two losses have come at the hands of Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, and their closest thing to a loss before that was to Josh Allen (the top three quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns and three of the top four in rushing yards). Mahomes doesn’t run as often as the other three, but his mobility is no secret, and he’s a master at creating plays after the defense breaks down. Mahomes is going to bring his A-game as I’m sure he, like Deshaun Watson, wants to beat Tom Brady before he retires. With the Patriots as a team looking vulnerable, I’m confident Mahomes is in for a big day.
What does having Gardner Minshew back mean?
In Nick Foles’ three starts as the Jaguars quarterback, he was awful, so Minshew mania has returned! Foles threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in two and a half games, and all three starts ended in losses.
Gardner Minshew was sent to the bench after his worst game of the season, but I believe he gives the Jaguars a better chance of winning and is also better for the Jags’ wide receivers. It was Minshew who originally put D.J. Chark on the map as a fantasy-relevant option, and he’s still sitting at WR8 as Minshew returns.
Minshew also becomes a streaming option for the fantasy playoffs. He was the QB10 through the first eight weeks of the season, and after this week’s matchup against the Chargers, he faces the Raiders and the Falcons. I would pick up Minshew if you still can, and I see this as great news for Chark and Dede Westbrook.