Five Burning Questions for Week 14 (2020 Fantasy Football)
It’s Week 14 and it’s hard to believe that the playoffs are upon us. Congratulations to those of you who made it to the playoffs and a special tip of the hat to those of you on a bye. If you didn’t make the playoffs, don’t ignore the next three weeks. Try viewing these games through a different lens. Take notes on players you should remember next year at your draft that your league mates may forget about in those late rounds. Also, this may be your chance to enjoy the game without freaking out about your fantasy players.
Let’s dive into five burning questions we may have heading into Week 14.
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1. Are There Startable Options on Thursday Night Football between the Patriots @ Rams?
Last week we saw the Patriots wipe the floor with the Chargers in a 45-0 shut out. Patriots quarterback Cam Newton bounced back with 23.56 points after a dismal outing against the Cardinals and posting only 3.96 points. As for the other pieces on the Patriots, well, there wasn’t much to write home about unless you randomly started wide receiver Gunner Olszewski. You should consider buying a lottery ticket if you did.
He wasn’t the only quarterback to have a nice redemption game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff also had a healthy 24.14 points after only 3.02 the week before against the 49ers. Rookie running back Cam Akers had his second game with a touchdown and double-digit fantasy points and running back Darrell Henderson got involved with a touchdown and 15.4 points. Wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp were productive with 18.5 and 15.3 points respectively and even tight end Tyler Higbee had a touchdown and 12.4 points. It was a nice fantasy day for the Rams players with the exception of Malcolm Brown.
This should give us some kind of confidence in these players heading into Week 14, right? Eh…
In terms of fantasy, both teams are distressingly good on defense. The Patriots are fifth against quarterbacks, fourteenth against running backs, eighth against wide receivers, and fourth against tight ends. The Rams are second against quarterbacks, seventh against running backs, first against wide receivers, and seventeenth against tight ends. Who is the Patriots’ tight end? It’s Ryan Izzo, Jordan Thomas, or Dalton Keene if you’re curious.
If you’re struggling with starters because of Josh Jacobs or Antonio Gibson, you may have to start Akers (if he plays) or Henderson. But, don’t forget that Malcolm Brown is still there. Woods and Kupp will give you indigestion and Higbee should probably be avoided. Goff is likely a streaming option in most leagues and should likewise be avoided. Newton has been hot and cold and will be facing Aaron Donald across the line of scrimmage. Byrd and Meyers are also wildcards and good luck guessing if the back to start should be James White or Damien Harris.
If you can avoid starting any fantasy options, I might pivot away from this game. Unfortunately, that may not be on the table. Either way, I don’t like the fantasy value coming out of this matchup.
2. Will D’Andre Swift (RB – DET) Play on Sunday against the Packers?
The rookie running back broke out in Week 6 after the Lions’ bye in Week 5. He rushed for 116 yards and scored two touchdowns against Jacksonville. He then posted 25.9 points against Washington’s impressive defense with 81 rushing yards and showed his receiving chops with five receptions for 68 yards and a receiving touchdown. He is a dual-threat running back and makes the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford better when he’s on the field.
Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion (which the Lions later called a “brain injury”) and has been out since. Fellow running back Adrian Peterson has commented that Swift hasn’t been himself since the concussion and he was inactive again last week with an illness.
Not only do the Lions need Swift back but fantasy managers do as well in the pivotal first round of the playoffs. The Lions will face the Green Bay Packers who are the third-worst in the league against the run. They have allowed over 1,100 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns to running backs as well as 68 receptions, 601 yards, and five receiving touchdowns to the position. Those receiving yards are second only to the New York Giants.
Swift’s status is still up in the air, but one thing is certain. If he is active on Sunday, he is a must-start. If he is not active, Peterson would be a good option, although he doesn’t have the ceiling that his rookie teammate has.
3. What to Expect from the Eagles with Jalen Hurts at QB?
The fans have been calling for it and head coach Doug Pederson finally pulled the trigger and put in backup rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts. It was a decision that probably should have been made weeks ago. Hurts will remain the starter as the Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints.
That’s right. The Saints.
This is not an ideal situation for fantasy. The Saints defense is fourth-best against quarterbacks and has logged 36 sacks, 24 fumbles, 20 fumble recoveries, and 13 interceptions. This is a terrible matchup for Hurts to make his first NFL career start.
This is also bad news for his offensive weapons. You likely have to start tight end Dallas Goedert and running back Miles Sanders but they don’t exactly inspire confidence. Sanders hasn’t logged a double-digit game since Week 10 and his usage is disheartening. Perhaps that will change, but the Saints are the best against running backs in fantasy. Goedert has been the most productive fantasy asset on the Eagles but will need to deal with his counterpart tight end Zach Ertz.
Frankly, I don’t expect much from the Eagles given their opponent. If you have to start any players here, consider plugging high ceiling options at other positions.
4. Which DST Should You Stream in Week 14 or Stash for Weeks 15 and 16?
Last week, I suggested starting the Arizona Cardinals DST. That turned out to be a disaster. However, this week, they have the opportunity for a bounce-back game against the Giants. Not only are they a streamable option this week, but they have a very favorable schedule facing Philadelphia and San Francisco in Weeks 15 and 16.
If you’re done with the Cardinals and how badly they hurt you last week, the Seahawks also have a juicy matchup in Week 14 against the New York Jets. I feel like I am picking on New York, but it is what it is.
For a full breakdown of DST streaming options and teams with favorable upcoming matchups, do yourself a huge favor and check out Let’s Stream Defenses: Week 14 by Jacob Herlin.
5. Can We Trust the Chargers in Week 14?
Ugh. The last thing managers needed in a crucial Week 13 was a dud from rookie phenom Justin Herbert. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened when the Patriots put the hurt on the Chargers last week.
Herbert has been lighting up fantasy scores since Week 2 when he had to start for an injured Tyrod Taylor. He took the quarterback reins and didn’t let go, piling on points and winning fantasy weeks. This week, the Chargers take on the Falcons who have been leaking fantasy points to quarterbacks and wide receivers like a sieve. They have allowed over 3,600 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and six rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks and are second only to Seattle in touchdowns allowed to wide receivers with 21. This week should be a get-right game for Herbert so fire him up, as well as Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and even Mike Williams if you need the upside.
Good luck in Week 14!
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Lauren Carpenter is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Lauren, check out her archive and follow her @stepmomlauren.