I had plans to sit down and write a more traditional intro, but some big news broke in the middle of Thursday Night Football, so it’s time to pivot.
This is absolutely shocking. Thomas was 33 and in June, decided to retire from the NFL.
That’s just too young.
My heart goes out to his family and friends and the Denver Broncos community and fans.
Life is short. Hug those closest to you. Tell those you care about that you love them.
In remembrance, my all time favorite Demaryius Thomas play: the touchdown to beat the Steelers in the playoffs.
And now, for last week’s recap. The long and short recap of last week’s pick is simple — average. Literally .500. So hey, for as much I helped you lose, I helped you win too. I like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of guy.
A quick reminder of what Play and Fade mean: Play simply means players that I love based on matchups and my expectation that they’ll finish with more points than projected. Fade indicates players that I think will underperform their projections/consensus weekly rankings. It doesn’t mean I’m outright benching them, but I’m likely not rushing to put them in any DFS lineups either. Onto the rest of Week 14.
QB Taysom Hill (NO) at NYJ – We just saw a modern day NFL offense run the ball so much, I felt like I was watching Back to the Future. Ever heard the expression describing the NFL as a copycat league? Taysom Hill suffered a finger injury last Thursday against the Cowboys — Mallett Finger — which knocked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson out for a month. Hill’s version isn’t considered as serious, but it will definitely limit his ability to throw. The Jets allow over 133 rushing yards a game and have allowed the most rushing TDs in the league. Hill rushed for over 100 against the Cowboys. The Saints also get back star RB Alvin Kamara this week. Why are we not imagining a game where both Kamara and Hill go over 100 yards, Hill vultures 3 TDs, and throws all of eight passes? Because I am. Rushing QBs are a cheat code, and Hill is that ten-fold this week.
Other QBs with good matchups: Taylor Heinicke (WAS) vs DAL and Trevor Lawrence (JAX) at TEN
RB Javonte Williams (DEN) vs DET – The GAWD has arrived. We waited 13 weeks to finally see the rookie from North Carolina break out, and it’s a shame that it took that long for the former 2nd round pick. But Javonte Williams absolutely dominated the Chiefs last week and showed the world what many of us already knew — he doesn’t need a Robin to hold him back. He’s Batman, and he needs to work alone. Maybe Melvin Gordon plays this week, maybe he doesn’t. But the genie is out of the bottle. If you’re Vic Fangio, why bottle him back up? Especially when you’re likely on the hot seat and your QB is struggling? Detroit has allowed the 5th most rushing yards and the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs. Expect an encore in the greatest way possible.
RB Josh Jacobs (LV) at KC – The season-ending injury to Kenyan Drake led to great things for Josh Jacobs. For the most meh RB2 in fantasy, Jacobs secured his first top 10 finish of the season in Week 13. He nearly doubled his season high in receptions (9) and finished as the RB4. This is a trend that should continue in the Raiders’ rematch against the Chiefs. The Chiefs are tied for the 8th most receptions allowed to RBs. Derek Carr has looked mediocre from a fantasy perspective of late, but he hasn’t been shy about targeting his RBs the last few weeks. Raiders RBs have a 26.6% target share over the last four weeks, and Carr is averaging 34.75 pass attempts a game over his last four. If we can pencil in seven targets for Jacobs, that’s a solid start towards an RB2 floor. Add in a TD, something he’s done seven times this year, and you have RB1 upside.
Other RBs with good matchups: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) vs LV, Devonta Freeman (BAL) at CLE, and Ameer Abdullah (CAR) vs ATL
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL) at WAS – I know we talked about this potentially being a trap game for Dallas on Wednesday’s show, but I have all the faith in the world that CeeDee Lamb will have a great game regardless. The Cowboys run game is hurting with Ezekiel Elliott dealing with a knee issue and Tony Pollard suffering from a torn Plantar Fascia, so expect a heavy dose of pass plays. And that will undoubtedly favor Lamb and the other WRs. The Football Team aren’t exactly great at covering WRs. The only two 100-yard games they’ve allowed to receivers this year have been to WRs who predominantly run out of the slot — Keenan Allen in Week 1 and Hunter Renfrow last week. Lamb is just over 30% in the slot this year, but the Cowboys have largely played without their top three WRs — Amari Cooper, Lamb, and Michael Gallup. Only Cooper and Lamb scoot that way, so I’m expecting big games from both this week.
WR Julio Jones (TEN) vs JAX – After practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, it’s looking like Julio Jones will come off IR and be available to play on Sunday. With A.J. Brown also on IR, QB Ryan Tannehill could use all the reinforcements he can get. Jones has only one game this season where he’s finished among the top 40 WRs in a given week. For one of the greatest WRs of all time, that’s not what we signed up for in 2021. But against a Jaguars team allowing the 6th most fantasy points to WRs on the year, Tannehill can use this game to get on the same page with Jones as they march towards the playoffs.
Other WRs with good matchups: D.J. Moore (CAR) vs ATL, Elijah Moore (NYJ) vs NO, and Jalen Guyton (LAC) vs NYG
TE Austin Hooper (CLE) vs BAL – Well, with Harrison Bryant out and David Njoku currently on the COVID list, Austin Hooper is all that remains. Look, I think this game will likely disappoint many fantasy managers, but some players will score fantasy points. I fully expect one of those guys to be Austin Hooper. The Ravens are so bad at covering TEs, allowing the 4th most to the position, and they just lost the best player in their secondary for the season (Marlon Humphrey). This should be an easy 5-50 game for Hooper, and 10 points is all we’re looking for from a TE these days.
Other TEs with good matchups: Evan Engram (NYG) at LAC and Nick Vannett (NO) at NYJ
QB Lamar Jackson (BAL) at CLE – The last time Lamar Jackson played the Browns, he threw four INTs. I’m not saying we’re going to get the same performance in Week 14, but Jackson hasn’t been the same super-human he was to begin the season. Over his last four games, Jackson has eight INTs. He’s currently averaging the most rushing attempts per game in his career. I said early in the season that for as great as Jackson was playing, he’s doing too much and will likely wear down. The Ravens have been decimated by injuries, and just lost star CB Marlon Humphrey. They’ve played “next man up” at RB all season, and Jackson is the only one who’s survived all season. He’s tired and worn out. This is going to be an ugly game, a game of little offense, and my plan is to just avoid it.
Other QBs with bad matchups: Matthew Stafford (LAR) at ARI and Jared Goff (DET) at DEN
RB Nick Chubb (CLE) vs BAL – The Ravens haven’t allowed a rushing TD since Week 7. Two weeks ago, Nick Chubb had 39 total yards against this same Ravens defense. This Browns offense has averaged 10 points a game over their last three games. Any guess as to why? They’re not running the ball well. Over the first nine games of the year, they averaged over 161 rushing yards per game. Over their last three, they’re averaging under 105. The only game they’ve topped 100 rushing yards over their last three games came against the Lions. If they can’t run the ball, they have no offense. I’m not expecting a big game from Chubb, even with Kareem Hunt back in rotation along side him. I’m expecting another low scoring game between these two teams, which limits Chubb’s upside this week.
RB James Robinson (JAX) at TEN – After effectively getting benched in two straight games, James Robinson went on a radio show and basically called out his coach. Robinson may be the best player on the Jaguars offense, but Urban Meyer is a terrible head coach and has more pride than one should when they’ve accomplished nothing in the NFL. I’m fully expecting Meyer to pull a similar stunt and JRob to once again disappoint fantasy managers, through no fault of his own. But in the event Meyer admits defeat and actually wants a shot at winning this game and plays Robinson the whole game, the Titans run defense will have a say in his production. They haven’t allowed even 70 rushing yards to an RB since Jonathan Taylor in Week 8. Robinson has a couple hills to climb over to succeed this week.
Other RBs with bad matchups: Aaron Jones (GB) vs CHI, Jamaal Williams (DET) at DEN and Tony Pollard (DAL) at WAS
WR Christian Kirk (ARI) vs LAR – Back in Week 4, Christian Kirk had one catch for five yards. Hashtag not good. The Rams secondary has been solid this year, despite their forgiving fantasy numbers against WRs (12th most). Jalen Ramsey has started to play more on the outside since Week 7, which should favor Kirk, but with how much Arizona lines up in 3- and 4-wide, Ramsey will be on everyone at some point. That said, it might just be better to fade the Cardinals receivers as a whole instead of trying to guess which one will have the good game.
WR Darnell Mooney (CHI) at GB – For about three weeks, the Packers pass defense was looking pretty damn good. The last couple of weeks… not so much. They were torched by the Vikings and they followed that up by allowing a ton of yards to the Rams. So why fade Darnell Mooney this week? Likely no Allen Robinson again means the Packers can focus all their efforts on slowing him down and taking away the deep ball since they don’t have many other threats. Plus, which ever QB ends up playing (Justin Fields is still questionable, meaning we could get one more week of Andy Dalton), they’re still lining up behind a shoddy offensive line. This feels like one of those instances where just because Mooney had a good game against them in Week 7, everyone will assume he can do it again. I’m not buying into that this week if I have better options on my bench.
Other WRs with bad matchups: Kenny Golladay (NYG) at LAC, Josh Reynolds (DET) at DEN, and Rashod Bateman (BAL) at CLE
TE Kyle Pitts (ATL) at CAR – It’s really this simple — Pitts is going to be a star. But he’s not ready to be a WR1 (yes, I’m aware he’s a TE). He needs someone to take some pressure off him. He had that with Calvin Ridley. He doesn’t right now because no one is threatened by Russell Gage. With Pitts playing out wide, he’s going to see a lot of Stephon Gilmore, who held him in check during their first meeting. I try to stay away from the “he failed the first time, so he’s doomed the second time” takes, but this is a situation where I’ll buy in. Pitts has one touchdown on the year and had less than six targets in a game only twice. And is catching less than 60% of his passes. I’ll that trend continues this week.
Other TEs with bad matchups: Tyler Higbee (LAR) at ARI and Cole Kmet (CHI) at GB