Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 14 (2019)
We’re finally here, folks. It’s Week 14, and that means the fantasy playoffs are underway in most leagues. If you’re still reading, you’re probably still alive for a fantasy football championship. Hopefully, this column has helped you a little bit along the way — and will continue to do so.
But before we dive into this week’s picks, let’s go big picture a bit here. The fantasy playoffs are all about who you can trust with your season on the line — and who you can’t trust. I’m a big proponent of starting your studs and not overthinking things, so if you’re fielding a roster chock full of RB1s and WR1s, well done. But if your teams are anything like mine, you’ve had to deal with your fair share of injuries, under-performers, and just general chaos, meaning there are still some big lineup decisions left to be made over these final few weeks. And trust is key.
The Week 14 slate is an interesting one, with no game having an over/under above 50 or below 40. Vegas pegs Kansas City-New England, Carolina-Atlanta, Indianapolis-Tampa Bay, and Tennessee-Oakland as the games with the most shootout potential (over/under above 47 and a spread of three points or fewer). But the main takeaway from a fantasy perspective is that there just aren’t the type of matchups to latch onto or shy away from that we see most weeks. Minnesota, Green Bay, Houston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland are the heavy favorites of the week, so players on those teams should theoretically get a slight bump (especially running backs and kickers). But we should always prioritize talent, team situation, and (to a lesser extent) matchup over expected game script, and that is even more true than usual this week.
I’m pleased to report that last week was my best so far in terms of player picks, and my first without any real misses. My Week 13 fades of Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman, Tyrell Williams were all fully validated, as was my confidence in the two Tylers, Boyd and Higbee. Kirk Cousins and Saquon Barkley didn’t quite meet my lofty expectations, but both had very solid fantasy performances as well.
By now you surely know the routine, but my Week 14 picks are relative to FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings for 0.5 PPR formats. If you’re still struggling with a lineup decision after reading this, ask me on Twitter @andrew_seifter and I’ll try to help as best I can. Good luck this week!
Overvalued: Tom Brady (NE)
My Rank: QB18
Judging from his ECR just outside QB1 territory, whether to start or sit Brady is shaping up as one of the more divisive topics of Week 14. It’s gonna be a no from me, dog. It’s tempting to stick with Brady after he put up some big stats against the Texans last week, but he didn’t play nearly as well as his final numbers looked, with most of his production coming in the fourth quarter as the Patriots desperately attempted to come back from a large deficit. Over his last six games, Brady is merely the QB22. I wouldn’t say that the 42-year old Brady is washed, but with Rob Gronkowski and Josh Gordon no longer in the picture, he’s clearly struggling to identify reliable pass catchers outside of Julian Edelman and (for last week at least) James White. It’s easy to think that Brady will throw a lot in a potential shootout with the Chiefs, but that logic simply hasn’t held against Kansas City’s past opponents, who have had much more success against their defense on the ground than they have through the air.
Undervalued: Ryan Tannehill (TEN)
My Rank: QB8
Since he made his first start of the season in Week 7, Tannehill is fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points. That’s nearly half a season’s worth of high-end production from a player who spent the first month and a half holding a clipboard. Make no mistake, the Titans remain a run-heavy team, and Tannehill’s pass volume should continue to be relatively low. But he’s managed to get the job done week in and week out thanks to red zone efficiency and some bonus rushing stats. This week he gets to face a Raiders defense that has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and allowed a rushing TD by a QB in each of the last two weeks. The Titans are projected to have one of their best offensive performances of the season, so this is not the time to consider jumping off the Tannehill train if you’ve been riding his hot streak into the fantasy playoffs.
Overvalued: Ronald Jones (TB)
My Rank: RB42
Let me ask you a simple question: Do you really want to trust Jones with your fantasy season on the line? Last week, in a beautiful matchup with the Jaguars (more on that in a sec), Jones was inexplicably benched for missing a single blitz pickup, allowing Peyton Barber to vulture two rushing scores. Bucs coach Bruce Arians maintains that Jones is still the starter, but even if that is indeed the case, his leash has proven to be disastrously short. And while Jones had one of the best possible matchups last week, he faces a far tougher test this week against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed just four rushing touchdowns to running backs, and had not allowed a single 100-yard rushing performance all year until the unstoppable force that is Derrick Henry accomplished that feat against them last week. Jones is far too risky a RB3/flex option for my taste.
Undervalued: Austin Ekeler (LAC)
My Rank: RB14
I’m actually higher than the expert consensus on both Melvin Gordon and Ekeler. I guess with all the uncertainty going on at the running back position across the league (Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, etc, etc, etc), I’m willing to go all-in on the Chargers’ backfield this week for a phenomenal matchup with Jacksonville. The Jaguars have given up seven rushing touchdowns and four 100-yard rushing performances over their last four games and just placed linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve. Yes, he is technically the Chargers’ second-string running back, but while Ekeler was a top-five RB in fantasy when he had this backfield to himself, he has still managed to be the RB14 since Gordon returned in Week 5.
Overvalued: Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)
My Rank: WR24
I know I just got finished reminding you to start your studs, but is OBJ really a stud at this point? He’s only the WR26 this season, and even worse (WR37) in fantasy points per game among wideouts who have suited up for at least six contests. Since the Jets let him take a quick slant right down the middle of the field for an easy 89-yard touchdown in Week 2, he’s the WR39. And before you say “yeah, but he gets the Bengals this week!” consider that Cincinnati is actually a middle of the pack defense against the pass (they’ve given up the 12th-most passing yards but are tied for 11th-fewest passing TDs allowed). I’m not saying you should bench Beckham for the flavor of the week, but if you’re one of those managers who drafted two high-end WRs and then picked up someone like D.J. Chark, Tyler Boyd, or John Brown along the way, Beckham could be the odd man out. It would have seemed absurd to bench Beckham against Cincinnati in August, but it’s no longer unthinkable here in December.
Undervalued: James Washington (PIT)
My Rank: WR30
I considered Washington to be an overvalued fantasy asset a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve evidently come full circle on him, at least for this week’s cake matchup with Arizona. The Cardinals have given up the most passing yards and passing touchdowns in the league, and an opposing wide receiver has topped 100 yards against them in six of their last eight games. Meanwhile, Juju Smith-Schuster appears set to miss another week, and Washington enters this game scorching hot, with at least 90 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four games. He is displaying an impressive ability to make contested catches, delivering on the potential he flashed while winning the Biletnikoff Award at Oklahoma State in 2017. With Duck Hodges at QB, I don’t want any part of Washington in tough matchups (like next week against Buffalo), but he’s a very intriguing flex option against Arizona.
Overvalued: Vance McDonald (PIT)
My Rank: TE18
McDonald is the ultimate matchups-based Rorschach test. While some people see a viable streamer facing a Cardinals defense that has been laughably bad at defending tight ends, others see a player who has done far too little this season to consider using in the fantasy playoffs, regardless of matchup. I fall into that second category. Yes, I recommended streaming Tyler Higbee against these same Cardinals last week, but there is a crucial difference — the Rams have shown the ability to utilize their tight ends in the passing game, while the Steelers (minus Ben Roethlisberger) have not. McDonald has had a few big games throughout his career, but his season-high in yardage is 40, and that was with Roethlisberger way back in Week 1. Really, you have nothing to go on here except the matchup. Personally, I’d rather give Higbee another shot or bank on a touchdown from someone like Kyle Rudolph, Ryan Griffin, or Darren Fells.
Undervalued: Jacob Hollister (SEA)
My Rank: TE11
Hollister has been relatively quiet since the Seahawks’ Week 11 bye, and his matchup with the Rams this week isn’t exactly an easy one. But even though he only posted 44 yards against the Vikings last week, the fact he had six catches on eight targets was encouraging nonetheless. Looking at the season as a whole, both Will Dissly and Hollister have performed like TE1s in terms of fantasy points per game, which gives you a sense of how integral the tight end position is to Seattle’s offense this year. With Austin Hooper and Evan Engram looking set to return and Jack Doyle and Jared Cook emerging, tight end is as deep as it’s been all season. But there’s still room for Hollister in my top-12 for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.