“Playoffs? Don’t talk about Playoffs?! Are you kidding me I just hope we can win a game.” For most of us, it’s playoff time and never have your line up choices mattered more. Read below for my thoughts on the biggest games of the week, for us and for the NFL contenders. As always if there’s a game I didn’t cover that affects you, tap me on the shoulder @SethFriederman on Twitter.
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
Minnesota Vikings vs Carolina Panthers – As I mentioned in last week’s post about the Panthers they really aren’t an explosive offense. Coming off a suffocating silencing of the Falcons the Vikings D should have little problem shutting down the Carolina attack. Greg Olsen‘s return comes with a lot of question marks but if he is healthy enough he should see plenty of targets as the Panthers are likely to be playing from behind. That said the Vikings don’t bury teams so Christian McCaffrey should put up decent numbers but Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton will not. The Panthers don’t get much in the way of sacks or QB pressures so I expect Joe Berger and company to give Case Keenum plenty of time, bumps for Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Seattle Seahawks – Predictably Seattle’s pass defense has declined with the absences of Richard Sherman & Kam Chancellor. Unfortunately for the Seahawks and unnoticed by most, Jacksonville’s reliance on their run game has decreased recently as well. With the emergence of Keelan Cole and more recently DeDe Westbrook, plus the consistently strong play of Marquise Lee the Jags have been able to throw well and often if the situation demands. The Jaguars don’t give up a lot of sacks or pressures and Blake Bortles has been much better of late. I’m not ready to say that the quintet of Cam Robinson, Patrick Omameh, Brandon Linder, A.J Cann, and Jeremy Parnell are the next great offensive line in the NFL but they’ve been consistently good in both pass and run blocking showing great execution and mobility.
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs – Everyone’s looking for the reason for the Chiefs shocking free fall. Plenty of people want to blame Andy Reid, some want to blame Alex Smith, those people are wrong. The Kansas City defense can’t stop anybody, a girl scout troop could score on their D. Defensive coordinator Bob D Sutton‘s group is in complete disarray and now they’ll be facing the Raiders without Marcus Peters. The Chiefs gave up three touchdowns and 331 passing yards to Josh McCown… Now they get Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. I’m sure this will be a 30 something to 30 something game and a bountiful fantasy point bonanza for anyone who’s got Chief skill players or Raider skill players. It’s not that I’m picking the Raiders O line to blow the Chiefs off the line of scrimmage it’s more that the KC defense will be on the field too much and giving up big play after big play.
Offensive Lines That Should Struggle
Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers – The Ravens are 7 and 5 because of their defense. There’s simply no arguing that point. Alex Collins has been a recent bright spot and Joe Flacco had a good game last Sunday vs the Lions but the games that Baltimore has won have been because of great D. The Ravens front line really misses Marshall Yanda but has held up fairly well without him. They rank ninth in sacks allowed and 12th in rushing yards. But part of that has been the quality of the opposition. Baltimore has zero wins against teams with winning records. Nada, Zip, Zilch, Bubkes. On the Steelers side losing Ryan Shazier in such a terrifying fashion was tough to watch on Monday night for his teammates and for us. Even with his absence and perhaps because of it I am expecting a very good game from the Pittsburgh D. Too good a game for a mediocre offense like Baltimore.
Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints – In week 13 the Vikings shut down the Falcons aerial attack. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, in the NFL if you can take away either the run or the pass from your opponent without over committing extra personnel it makes it almost impossible for them to put up a lot of points. The Saints duo of Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore as well as safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Marcus Williams as a unit every bit as good as Minnesota’s, and probably better. Expect Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to struggle again this week. The Falcons O-line pass protects better than almost any other team in the league and so although Cam Jordan and mates have been good at getting pressure they won’t this game. With all of that equaling out the game comes down to, will Atlanta be able to run the football either with traditional hand offs or the screen and draw game? I believe they will find some success but not enough to create the points to overcome what the Saints will be able to generate, tipping the scales to New Orleans.
Los Angles Rams vs Philadelphia Eagles – The Rams are going to have to use the short passing game to move the football in this game against the Eagles daunting run D. That’s fine with Sean Payton as no team with a winning record has run the ball less than Los Angeles over the last three weeks. Three step drops for Jared Goff will take the pressure off Andrew Whitworth and the rest of the Rams O-line. This means the game comes down to the Eagles linebackers and their ability to cover players like Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp underneath and in the flat. Something at which they’ve excelled so far this season. look for the birds defense to take off and soar and for the Rams to be put out to pasture.
Welcome to QB List’s weekly rankings! Each week, I’ll be taking a look at the upcoming match-ups and ranking each IDP position. Here are the ranks for Week 14 of the fantasy football season.
Week 14 Notes:
- It’s playoff time for the majority of fantasy owners, the most important time of the year. Let’s start with an important reminder, stick with your studs. They got you here for a reason. While there are some matchups you can evaluate to clarify decisions, don’t overthink. Your best players are usually that for a reason. Enjoy the week and most of all, good luck!
Throughout the year, we will be providing our take on the top 16 defenses each and every week, based on matchup, injuries, and recent performance. They will fall into the following tiers:
DOMINANT – I don’t believe that there are any true “set-and-forget” options at the defensive position, as there are scarcely ANY such players at any position in the NFL. However, these groups are as close as you’re going to get. They can be started with supreme confidence most weeks and will just require the odd benching to avoid Foxboro or Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood as I’ve conveniently renamed the whole of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Update: Mr. Hundley’s Hometown?
DISTINGUISHED – This is the high-end streamer tier. They will probably be added and dropped multiple times throughout the course of the season, getting the green light for plus matchups and benched at the first sight of danger. Some lunkhead in your league following the three defense strategy may even draft one or two of these units, but most will likely be available on the wire to start the year. Careful, intelligent management and usage of options in this tier will yield positive results more often than not. There will likely be a few breakouts in the upper half of this group, and this is the tier I’d be looking to draft my defense from.
DEFENSIBLE – Defensible, get it? You could certainly pick a starter from this tier, preferably against a weaker offense at home but these squads are by no means a safe bet. Cover your eyes, hold your nose, and maybe even get out of the house. Do your blood pressure a favor and just check the score after the game. Go take in that indie film you’ve been wanting to see!
DESPERATE – These are the teams you could probably throw on some pads and score against. The dregs of the league reside in this tier. These teams should be started in only the most extreme circumstances (you lost a bet, you hate yourself, you are playing in a bizarre league that rewards awful defensive play) but for the most part will be available on the wire all year long, and for good reason. Below are our ranks for week 14 of the 2017 NFL season – Get excited!
1.) New England Patriots (@ Miami Dolphins)- The Patriots have been remarkably reliable over the last eight games, consistently stifling opponents offenses while terrorizing the opposing defense. Last week was no different with New England holding division rival Buffalo to a scant 3 points. This matchup is similarly juicy against the Miami Dolphins, who are allowing the 4th most points to opposing D/STs.
Injuries to Watch: DE Trey Flowers is New England’s top pass rusher by the sack metric (leads the team with 6) and missed week 13. Give them a bump if he makes it back onto the field.
Freaking Jets. I swear to go being a Jets fan is the hardest thing in the world. Not only do they win, and put themselves farther away from a good draft pick, they couldn’t stop Alex Smith or Tyreek Hill, thus ending my fantasy season. I hate being a Jets fan sometimes. Also after last night, JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of my favorite players in the NFL.
Anyways, it’s time to get down to the important stuff. Just a reminder for all you still in contention for your fantasy playoffs, we’ve got three levels of kickers, FG’s, Touchbackers and Squibs. Anyone not listed is someone you should avoid.
1. Greg Zuerlein, L.A. Rams (vs. Philadephia Eagles). LA is the highest scoring offense, and Zuerlein is on pace to break the single-season field goal record. He’s having the best fantasy season for any kicker this year and is averaging more points per game than Julio Jones. Nuff said.
Finally, after waiting for what’s felt like an eternity and a little more, Josh Gordon is back to the NFL, playing in his first regular-season game since the 2014 NFL Season. Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said that he had a ton of plays designed for Gordon and that seemed true on Sunday, as Gordon was targeted 11 times and caught four balls for 85 yards.
One of the concerns about Gordon this year was how he’d look on the field, what kind of shape he’d be in, how well he’d know the playbook, and fortunately, Gordon looked excellent. He looked like the Josh Gordon we all know and love, big, fast, powerful, with great hands. Today, we’re going to dive into his performance target-by-target.
NOTE: Players mentioned will be owned in 40% or less of ESPN leagues. MUST ADD will be a recommended add in all leagues. MAYBE ADD is for those in 12 team leagues or deeper. DEEP ADD is for those in 14+ team leagues.
No QB’s this week, but if Aaron Rodgers was dropped in your league and you don’t have Brady, Wentz or Wilson for your playoff run…make sure you make Rodgers your top priority this week.
Mike Davis (Seattle Seahawks) – 2.9% OWNED – MAYBE ADD
Davis got the start Sunday night and wound up leading the backfield in snaps and touches, totaling 101 yards on 16 carries and 4 receptions. He was solid, if unspectacular, but this was certainly the best game for a Seahawk RB since Chris Carson’s week 2 performance. Carson will probably be back this season, but probably not until week 17 at the earliest, so this should be Davis’s backfield for the rest of the fantasy season.
Welcome to our weekly set of rankings of our top-250 overall players for the rest of the season. I should note that I’m not personally a big fan of massive, position-combining lists and I think positional lists are more useful, however, take this and use it in whatever way you wish. Thanks to this widget from FantasyPros, you can break it down by position as well.
- The argument against Alex Smith at the beginning of the year was “well he never throws the ball deep.” And then he started throwing the ball deep, and he was awesome. Now he’s back to not throwing the ball deep. That whole Chiefs offense looks bad, and Smith is a big part of that. He’s dropped in the rankings down to a QB2 and I don’t really know how he’s going to get much better unless he goes back to throwing it deep.
If you’re like me then you have squads that are facing win and in games this Sunday. The performances of the players you, and I, choose to start will decide whether we’re done or enter the final rounds that decide our league’s champion. Can you trust those projections from the “experts”, and from the NFL, ESPN, and Yahoo? As I have maintained all season understanding which team will win the matchups in the trenches will give you the understanding to know if what everybody says will happen for your skill players actually will. On to Week 13!
Offensive Lines That Should Dominate
Minnesota Vikings vs Atlanta Falcons – The Vikings are running the football really well right now. Rookie Pat Elflein has joined a remarkable O-line crew of Riley Reiff, Joe Berger, Nick Easton, and Mike Remmers in what is one of the more under-reported stories of 2017. With the exception of the rookie, the Vikings O-line consists of players that other teams didn’t want. Going against a Falcons D that just gave up 279 passing yards to the lowly Bucs we already can anticipate that Case Keenum, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs should have good games. If the Minnesota line can create good holes and lanes for Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon the Falcons will be in for a shootout that will not go their way.
Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills):
Taylor should be a safe option this week as the game script will probably ask him to do more than most weeks. The potential upside here comes with the Patriots defense focusing on playing more zone defense this week, something they have gone away from since the early part of the season due to teams shredding them through the air. Even with no Kelvin Benjamin, I expect Taylor to have one of his better fantasy days this year.
Welcome to QB List’s weekly rankings! Each week, I’ll be taking a look at the upcoming matchups and ranking each position, as well as flex positions.
Note: rankings will be updated throughout the week, so continue checking back here as the week goes on. Also, check out our defensive rankings article for explanations on those, and our Kickin’ It article for explanations on the kicker rankings.
Week 13 Notes:
- Devonta Freeman looks like he’s all set to play this week and according to reports, he should have no restraints, so feel comfortable slotting him into your lineup as usual. Unfortunately, he’s going against the Vikings’ tough defense, which prevents him from RB1 status, but he should be a solid RB2.