Fantasy Football Believe It or Not: Bench your Eagles without Carson Wentz? Mike Evans, too?
Heath Cummings discusses the Eagles without Carson Wentz and whether you can keep starting Mike Evans.
The worst part of the playoffs in Fantasy Football is the finality of it. It doesn't matter how awesome your team has been, or how ice cold your opponent has been. Week 14 was all that mattered. And if you survived it can be maddening trying to weigh what you just saw for your semifinal matchup.
The worst thing about football is the injuries, and Carson Wentz suffered a serious one in Sunday's win over the Rams. You have to digest this in a lot of different ways, but they're all terrible. First you feel for the player who suffered the injury. Of course, in this line of work you also think of the Fantasy impact, and it's not just limited to those Fantasy owners who had Wentz on their roster. Let's start with the Eagles.
You can't start any Eagles without Carson Wentz
Wentz suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season. That will leave the job to Nick Foles. Foles is arguably one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league, but that's a far cry from the MVP-level football that Carson Wentz was playing.
Since 2014, Foles has averaged 6.6 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 77.6. It makes all the sense in the world for the Eagles to lean on their defense down the stretch and just hope that Foles doesn't make too many mistakes. If you own any Eagles in Fantasy, you should start making alternative plans for the postseason.
Verdict: Don't believe it
We have seen Foles perform like an MVP as well, remember? It was 2013, in Philadelphia, back when Chip Kelly was still an offensive genius. Foles was in a winning system with good weapons, and he thrived. I don't expect him to match his numbers from that year, but I do expect he'll have success.
I think they'll focus on the run game, which should be good news for Jay Ajayi, who is looking more and more like a feature back again. I also believe Foles will lean on his tight end, which means you're starting Trey Burton or Zach Ertz, depending on whether the latter is active.
Finally, the receivers are the most concerning. Alshon Jeffery is going to be a borderline No. 2 and Nelson Agholor a low-end No. 3. You don't have to start these guys, but you certainly don't have to sit them either. They get the New York Giants in Week 15, which is a good matchup for every position.
You should bench Mike Evans in Week 15
If you're a Mike Evans owner and you're still alive in the playoffs, well done. It is impressive overcoming the anchor that has been his Fantasy production.
Evans has four catches for 58 yards in his last two games combined. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7. He doesn't have a game with 100 receiving yards all season. It's time to stop treating Evans as if he's a must-start wide receiver. That just hasn't been the case.
Verdict: Believe it
But don't force it.
The thing that bothers me about Evans more than anything is his recent drop in targets. He has 11 in his past two games. Jameis Winston is clearly making an effort to spread the ball around (often to the wrong team), and it's really hurting Evans' value.
The reason I say don't force it is because I still believe in Evans' talent and his upside. I'm not benching him unless I'm more in Week 15 unless I legitimately have someone who has a higher floor. I haven't completed my Week 15 rankings yet, but I still don't think he'll fall out of the top 25 at the position.
Kareem Hunt is back
In case you needed a reminder why you shouldn't force benching Mike Evans, go talk to a Kareem Hunt owner who did. Hunt scored his first touchdown since Week 3 and totaled 138 yards on 28 touches. He thoroughly gashed the Oakland Raiders and looked like the running back who started the 2017 season so hot.
If you've got Hunt on your roster heading into Week 15 you better believe he should be in your starting lineup.
Verdict: Believe it
This has less to do with Hunt and more to do with the situation. Hunt took advantage of a bad run defense at home with a good game script in Week 14. Over the next two weeks, the Chiefs stay in Kansas City and face the Chargers and Dolphins. These are two of the most favorable matchups for running backs.
So sure, Hunt has a floor south of 10 Fantasy points. Most do. But he flashed that ceiling on Sunday in a pretty perfect situation, and things will continue to look rosy for the remainder of the Fantasy playoffs.
Dak Prescott is a must-start QB again
In another redemption story, Dak Prescott set a career high in passing yards and delivered 32 Fantasy points to his patient owners. If you're like me you had him on your bench, so it's a little maddening, but it's nice to know you can count on him moving forward.
Prescott took a few games to figure out playing without Ezekiel Elliott and a perfect offensive line, but he looked in rhythm and on-time on Sunday in a road game in the cold. It's going to be really hard to do anything but start Prescott in Week 15.
Verdict: Don't believe it
I'm not sure we're ever going to figure how good Prescott is. He's good, but this game was not as great as the numbers in Week 14 lead you to believe.
His 50-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant was 80 percent YAC. The 81-yarder to Rod Smith was thrown about 20 yards. Prescott got a lot of help from his weapons against a very bad Giants defense. So no, I'm not ready to say must-start again. Unless you're just talking about Week 15.
Prescott faces the Raiders, and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they've quit by the time the Cowboys get to Oakland. Even if they haven't, they don't really have the ability to stop the Cowboys offense. The bigger test will come in Week 16 when Dallas faces Seattle (with Ezekiel Elliott back). This Seahawks defense isn't the same animal it once was, but Prescott will still be a tough start with a Fantasy championship on the line.
I had some suspicions that McCaffrey may struggle against Minnesota, but I didn't expect Jonathan Stewart to thrive. Stewart ran for three touchdowns, which could easily be ascribed to good fortune had he not also topped 100 yards. These two had essentially been the same guy in non-PPR since the bye, but this performance from Stewart put him in the driver's seat. You'll feel more comfortable starting him than the rookie in Week 15.
Verdict: Don't believe it
It's close. It's much closer than I wish it was. But I'll still take McCaffrey for the rest of the season and especially in Week 15, assuming Aaron Rodgers starts. Stewart is going to get more touches on a weekly basis and has a better chance to score a touchdown, but McCaffrey will be much more efficient because so many of his touches are catches.
The Vikings were a team that had great success stopping pass-catching running backs. The Packers are definitely not. What's more, if Rodgers is back, the game script should be better for McCaffrey. I don't really want to start either of these backs in Week 15, but McCaffrey is still the one I'd choose.
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