By the Numbers: Week 14 (2020 Fantasy Football)
Some years ago, I was in a hyper-competitive fantasy baseball league with a cohort from my journalism school. There were tons of blockbuster trades, as we had the convenience of seeing each other in person daily to talk strategy and potential deals.
There was also ample trash talk, and as these things normally go, factions formed within the group. To this day, some of us do not speak over disagreements we had about the definition of “collusion.”
The environment we created put added pressure on every move, from start/sit decisions to trades to free agency. It wasn’t about winning $200 at the end of the season, or even the bragging rights of coming in first place. It was about pride and thinking that you knew more about baseball than your peers.
Pride can drive people to do some crazy things, and in the semi-finals of those playoffs, I committed a cardinal sin of fantasy sports. Instead of leaving my lineup set with all positions filled, I benched Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Pérez for a game amidst a slump because of a bad matchup I feared would hurt my team’s average and OPS.
Pérez hit two home runs and totaled five RBI that day. I lost to my opponent by one home run and three RBI.
There are two huge lessons to be learned by this, the first of which is obvious: Don’t overthink the room. Yes, hitting on a lottery-ticket lineup decision can make you look smart and pay short-term dividends, but doubling down on bad probability isn’t the way to go. Make the decision you’ll kick yourself less for making should things not work out, especially in the playoffs.
The second lesson is to remember that this is fantasy sports. It’s fun to take it seriously, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself to win a game that is 99 percent out of your control. And even more importantly, don’t let it burn real-life bridges.
In 11 games this season, Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery has averaged 3.2 receptions and 4.6 targets per game, way up from his 1.6 receptions and 2.2 targets per game last season.
I viewed Montgomery as a touchdown-dependent RB2 or flex for much of last season, but without Tarik Cohen in the lineup for most of 2020, Montgomery has become a high-end RB2. I expect Montgomery to perform well in the fantasy playoffs, with two particularly advantageous matchups against the Texans and Jaguars, each of which ranks among the bottom five in running back fantasy points allowed.
Bears just got the best RB of all time pic.twitter.com/S9GOmudyUN
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) April 27, 2019
On the season, Montgomery is the full- and half-PPR RB 11, and over the past two weeks, he’s been the top-scoring running back in all three major scoring formats. Maybe the former third-rounder is finally living up to that legendary television graphic.
When healthy this season, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has been a force in fantasy football, averaging 15.1 PPR points per game, second among rookie wide receivers to Justin Jefferson in a historic receiving class.
In Aiyuk’s past four games, he’s averaged 10 targets and 6.5 receptions, to go along with three touchdowns and 376 receiving yards.
With George Kittle still out of the lineup and potentially sidelined for the rest of the season, I expect Aiyuk to be a significant threat in the fantasy playoffs. Look for Nick Mullens to pepper the former Sun Devil with passes down the stretch of the season.
Instead, Cleveland stacked its chips behind a historically strong running game, which led to Landry’s averaging just 6.6 PPR points per game in the three contests immediately following OBJ’s ACL tear.
The past two weeks have been a different story, as Landry has averaged eight receptions on 10.5 targets for 48.7 PPR points, good for fourth among wide receivers during that span.
Landry should have a favorable Week 14 script against the Ravens, although it’s possible he could draw a Marlon Humphrey shadow. Managers who can make it to the fantasy championship in Week 16, however, should be very excited about a matchup with the New York Jets.
Have the Los Angeles Rams finally freed Cam Akers? The rookie running back totaled a career-high 21 rushes and scored a touchdown on Sunday against the Cardinals, but I’m not sure he’s a reliable play in Week 14 against the Patriots.
For starters, Akers has totaled just four receptions in 10 games this season, so even if he is showing promise in standard formats, he’s nothing but a low-end, touchdown-dependent flex in half-and full-PPR leagues.
Beyond that, Sean McVay has been fickle with his running backs’ usage throughout the season, taking a “hot hand” approach that’s led to Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown seemingly having seized lead-back duties at different points in the year.
My gut says McVay isn’t changing his philosophy overnight because of two strong games from a rookie running back, so even if Akers gets starts moving forward, I’m not confident enough in his overall job security with fantasy playoff matches on the line.
Logan Thomas’ usage has been talked about all season, but I hadn’t realized just how many snaps he was playing until diving into his numbers after this week’s nine-catch, 98-yard, one-touchdown performance.
Did you know Logan Thomas was once a QB
— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2020
On the season, Thomas trails just Darren Waller among tight ends, playing 90.2 percent of the Washington Football Team’s offensive snaps. In Week 13, he logged 100 percent of the snaps and set a career-high with 24.8 PPR points (20.3 in half-PPR).
Thomas has been disappointing for much of the season, but he’s shown promise in each of the past two games, scoring in both. If he can get past a tough matchup against the 49ers in Week 14, he could be a valuable play in the semi-finals and championship, provided he continues strengthening a burgeoning connection with quarterback Alex Smith.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.