You think you know your fantasy players well after 14 weeks? Think again. @FantasyEsquire explains why you should trust some players more than others.
Trust: Lamar Jackson vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Four games into the Lamar Jackson Experience and we are still waiting for the young quarterback to put all of the pieces together. To be fair, though, his owners have not been totally disappointed. Moreover, in Jackson’s last two games under center he looked much more comfortable throwing the ball and avoiding interceptions.
This week he gets a friendly home tilt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are giving up the third most points to the quarterback position at a clip of 20.6 points per game. However, with 69 rush attempts, 330 rushing yards and 2 rushing scores in the last 4 games, Jackson is more than just a quarterback. Tampa Bay this season is also surrendering the 5th most points to opposing running backs at a rate of 29.3 points per game.
With Jackson’s dual-threat running abilities and Tampa Bay’s inability to stop the run or pass, I expect Jackson and his backfield mates to thrive in this matchup. Look for Jackson to put up 200 yards passing, 1 Pass TD, 1 Interception, 95 yards rushing and 1 Rush TD.
Bust: Aaron Rodgers vs. Chicago Bears
We have all come to realization that Aaron Rodgers is not having his best season, but this could also be his worst. For example, two weeks ago he threw the ball over 50 times against the Arizona Cardinals and wasn’t able to crack 250 yards or more than 1 touchdown, a rare accomplishment.
While A-Rod historically plays well against the Chicago Bears, this game just doesn’t add up in his favor. The game is at Soldier Field, the Bears allow the second-fewest yards per pass attempt this season and only give up an average of just 13 points to opposing quarterbacks when playing at home. Lastly, the Packers just fired their long tenured head coach Mike McCarthey and we have no idea what to expect from this offense going forward. It would be best to avoid this situation if possible.
Trust: Joe Mixon vs. Oakland Raiders
The last few weeks for Cincinnati have been just awful. First, Andy Dalton goes down, then A.J. Green. Now, Hue Jackson is hired, just brutal. However, all is not lost. Over the last three weeks Joe Mixon has an excellent averaged 5.59 yards per carry and 7.57 yards per reception.
This week Mixon gets to face an Oakland Raiders’ defense that is giving up 152 rushing yards per game over the same three-week span. Moreover, the Raiders are allowing the second most yards before contact per rush (1.93 yds/carry) and the most carries inside the 5-yard line per game (1.6 carries per game). Look for Mixon to fill up his stat sheet on Sunday with at least 100 yards and a score.
Bust: Patriots RBs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Over the last six weeks the Steelers have gotten their act together against the run, allowing just 88 total yards per game to the running back position over that time-span. Moreover, with the addition of Rex Burkhead from Injured Reserve the ability to project the Patriots running back stat lines went from difficult to impossible.
The only back to get a consistent workload since his return is Sony Michel, but even he has had multiple touchdowns vultured by James Develin over the last two weeks. Ultimately, I think Michel finishes the game with TD but projecting anyone else’s yardage is a mystery. In the Week 15 semifinals, I would still start Michel but avoid James White and Rex Burkhead.
Trust: Jarvis Landry vs. Denver Broncos
After the last two hot starts you have to trust Jarvis Landry in this matchup against the Denver Broncos. Landry will no longer have to face Denver’s far and away best cornerback Chris Harris Jr. Plus, the Broncos are getting into the habit of bringing another defender into the box to stop the run. With an extra defender in the box and and an impressive pass rush, this feels like a quick slant game to Landry.
Bust: Kenny Golladay vs. Buffalo Bills
While this bit is about Kenny Golladay, all other Lions players should be avoided as well. The jury is still out on whether Mathew Stafford plays this week, which makes an already difficult matchup for the second year pro Golladay look like a must-sit situation.
Furthermore, Golladay should also see a heavy dose of shadow coverage from Tre’Davious White, one of the NFL’s elite corners. With a backup signal caller potentially behind center, a banged-up O-Line and a running game in shambles, this week does not set up well for Golladay. Avoid the talented wideout this week in your crucial Week 15 semi-finals.
Trust: Rob Gronkowski vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
If Gronkowski owners were able to make it into the playoffs, then this week should be smashing. After battling injury and being ineffective for the first 11 weeks of the season, Gronk has found his groove.
In the last three weeks Gronk has scored a pair of touchdowns, averaged 13.5 yards per reception, 68.6 yards per game and is hauling in over 70% of his targets. It gets better: in the 6 games Gronk has faced the Steelers, he has 39 receptions for 664 yards and 8 touchdowns. Moreover, his 110.6 yards per game against the Steelers are the highest he has had against any team he’s opposed more than once.
But wait, there’s more! The Steelers also give up 15.4 points per game to the tight end position, the 5th worst in the NFL. Enough with the numbers, take my word for it, Gronk shows up big this weekend.
Bust: Ian Thomas vs. New Orleans Saints
Every week there seems to be a new tight end option to crack the top 12 rankings, and this time it is Ian Thomas of the Carolina Panthers. After posting a 5/77 line against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, many owners scrambled on waiver day to add the rookie tight end for the stretch run.
While Thomas did have a nice game last week and is the best option for his team at the position, this week he gets the New Orleans Saints who possess the second stingiest defense against the tight end position, only allowing 8.4 points per game to the tight end position. With Cam Newton’s shoulder injury and inconsistent play becoming a daily issue, this looks like a letdown week for the waiver wire darling.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have quietly been one of the most productive fantasy defenses over the last four weeks. During that span the Saints are only one point behind the Chicago Bears for the lead in total fantasy points. The Saints have picked up 20 sacks over the last four weeks; no other team has more than 14.
While the Saints will travel to Carolina for a matchup against Cam Newton and the Panthers, Newton has been anything but stellar over the last two weeks. Besides the fact that Newton hasn’t cleared a 70 QBR over in the last two weeks, there are also rumblings that he is dealing with a chronic shoulder issue. If the Saints get up early, expect their defensive ends to pin their ears back and start taking shots at Cam. I would expect at least a baseline of three sacks and one interception from the Saints in this match up.
The Jaguars were flat out embarrassed last weekend against the Tennessee Titans, but let’s be honest, no one saw the Derek Henry four-touchdown explosion happening.
With 10 days to think about last week, you better believe the Jaguars will look at this matchup with the Redskins as a redemption game. Mark Sanchez has not thrown a touchdown since 2015 and Josh Johnson was signed last week off of an AFF roster. To boot, without Jordan Reed, there isn’t a receiving option on the Redskins who will be able match up with a single Jaguars defender. Las Vegas has this game at a 36.5 over/under, I will take the under in this matchup all day.