Arguably, the most frustrating thing in fantasy football is seeing someone in your starting lineup struggle that week. Therefore, the logic behind this article is simple – identify fantasy football lineup landmines.
These are players you’re leaning towards starting this week but could end up being a landmine that blows up and destroys your starting lineup, potentially costing you your matchup.
Brace yourself and take cover. These six players could blow up in your face this week.
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Fantasy Football Lineup Landmines: Week 14
Stroud has already locked up the Offensive Rookie of the Year award race. The former Ohio State star has been the QB2 over the past five weeks, averaging 25.4 fantasy points per game. However, he has two massive performances during those five games – scoring 41.8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 30.9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. By comparison, Stroud averaged 1.3 passing touchdowns and 16.8 fantasy points per game in the other three games, totaling 16.1 or fewer twice.
Unfortunately, rookie wide receiver Tank Dell is out for the year with a broken leg. While fellow wideout Nico Collins is a No. 1 caliber wide receiver, Stroud’s weaponry has taken a significant hit. Meanwhile, the New York Jets have arguably the top pass defense in the league. They have held quarterbacks to 13.2 fantasy points per game, the fifth-fewest in the NFL. Furthermore, the Jets have surrendered an average of 9.3 fantasy points per game to Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa this season. Stroud is no longer a must-start quarterback, especially this week.
The Raiders had their bye last week. However, Jacobs is coming off his best performance of the year in Week 12. The star running back had 20 rushing attempts for 110 yards, a touchdown, and 20.5 half-point PPR fantasy points. He set a season-high in yards per rushing attempt (5.5). By comparison, Jacobs didn’t average more than 4.3 yards per rushing attempt in any other game. Yet, fantasy players should be nervous about starting the former Alabama star. His role in the passing game has cratered since Las Vegas made a change at quarterback.
Over the first eight weeks this season, Jacobs averaged 3.5 receptions per game. However, the veteran has averaged only 1.8 receptions per game over the past four games that quarterback Aidan O’Connell started. Furthermore, he has a 7.1% target share and 16% target per route run rate (per Fantasy Points Data) in the past four games. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings have held non-Philadelphia Eagles running backs to only 14.1 fantasy points per game this year. Minnesota has shut down running backs lately and should limit Jacobs’ fantasy production.
Last week, Swift only scored three half-point PPR fantasy points. Yet, that wasn’t a significant surprise, given how well the San Francisco 49ers run defense has played this season. However, the star running back has struggled lately after starting the year on fire. Over the past four contests, Swift has averaged 9.6 fantasy points per game, scoring fewer than nine in all but one. Furthermore, his role in the passing game has slipped. He has had more than two receptions only once over the past five contests.
When the Eagles faced the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9, Swift had 20 touches in that matchup. Yet, he finished the game with only 8.4 fantasy points, his third-lowest total for the year since Week 1. Unfortunately, the star running back has to face the Cowboys again on Sunday night. Dallas has held running backs to 15.3 fantasy points per game, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. They have given up only one rushing score to running backs over the past four weeks. Fantasy players should temper their expectations for Swift against the division rivals.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Walker could return to the lineup in Week 14. Furthermore, Zach Charbonnet left last week’s matchup with a knee injury that reportedly swelled up. Regardless of which running back starts for Seattle, fantasy players want to avoid playing them this week. Walker has averaged 4.1 yards per rushing attempt and only 7.8 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over his past four contests. Meanwhile, Charbonnet averaged 0.64 fantasy points per opportunity over the past two weeks without the second-year running back.
More importantly, the Seahawks face an elite San Francisco 49ers run defense on Sunday. The NFC West division leaders have held running backs to 14.8 fantasy points per game, the third-fewest in the NFL. They have surrendered 14 or fewer fantasy points to running backs in 66.7% of the games this season. Furthermore, San Francisco has allowed the seventh-lowest explosive run rate (2.7%) and the lowest missed tackles forced per attempt (7%) over the past month (per Fantasy Points Data). Avoid starting any Seattle running back against the 49ers.
Unfortunately, fantasy players can no longer start Thielen with any confidence. The veteran wide receiver was outstanding to start the year. He was the WR3 from Week 2 through Week 6, averaging 20 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. However, his production has fallen off a cliff since the Week 7 bye. Thielen has been the WR46 over the past six weeks, averaging 6.7 fantasy points per game, scoring fewer than 7.3 in half the contests. Furthermore, he has only nine targets and 4.7 fantasy points over the past two weeks.
Carolina is focused on the future, meaning Jonathan Mingo will get more targets moving forward. While Thielen has only six targets over the past two weeks, the rookie receiver has 16, totaling 10 last week, a 32.3% target share. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints have held wide receivers to 23.4 fantasy points per game, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Furthermore, they gave up only four receptions for 72 receiving yards and a touchdown to the Detroit Lions wide receiver core last week despite missing Marshon Lattimore. Thielen is closer to being droppable than startable.
Fantasy players finally saw it happen – Engram found the end zone. After not scoring a touchdown over the first 12 weeks of the season, the veteran tight end reached the end zone Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. More importantly, he had his best performance of the year. Engram caught nine targets for 82 receiving yards, totaling 18.7 half-point PPR fantasy points. By comparison, he totaled 90 receiving yards and 15.5 fantasy points over his previous three games. Unfortunately, fantasy players can’t trust him moving forward.
The Jaguars unfortunately lost quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a high ankle sprain Monday night. The star quarterback won’t play this week and likely will miss more time. Meanwhile, Engram faces an elite Cleveland Browns defense with C.J. Beathard under center. The Browns have held tight ends to only 4.8 fantasy points per game, the fewest in the NFL. Furthermore, tight ends not named Mark Andrews have averaged 2.7 fantasy points per game and scored one touchdown against Cleveland in 2023. Engram isn’t a top-12 tight end this week because of the matchup and quarterback situation.