So, here's a fun wrinkle for this week: We've got two Monday night games! The Titans and Dolphins in one matchup, and the Packers and Giants in the other. It's not the most glamorous slate for a dual primetime schedule, but there is one nice thing about it for Fantasy players: It gives us a bit more flexibility when waiting for injuries.
The late-season schedule offers a few quirks like that. Week 15 is a pretty standard week, with all 16 teams playing and just one Thursday and one Monday night game, but then things get truly weird in Week 16. We've got one game on Thursday that week, but then three on Saturday, nine on Sunday, and then three more Monday. Week 17, the Fantasy championship week for most leagues, is another weird one, with a Thursday game, a Saturday game, and then no Monday night game; College football gets the spotlight that night.
Those schedule quirks shouldn't change things too much for Fantasy, but it's worth reminding you ahead of time. We've got a bit less injury information as of Wednesday, with four teams not having practiced yet, so that's something to keep in mind. But, hopefully, we should know pretty much everything we need to know by Sunday; if not, well, we've got an extra game's worth of players to pick replacements from, if needed.
This is the last week of the regular season in most leagues, and I'm still fighting for a playoff spot in three of my 15 leagues; I'm out of in three more, with a spot more or less locked up in the other nine. It's been a tough Fantasy season, but I still have a chance to end up with a pretty good showing overall, and I hope the same can be said for every one of you reading along at home.
It's a long season, and we're almost at the end. Remember: Send me your questions at Chris.Towers@Paramount.com to be included in a mailbag edition of the newsletter tomorrow morning to help set those lineups. Just make sure you use the subject line "#AskFFT" so I can keep track of them. Let's go lock up those playoff spots.
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- : | |
- Week 14 Position Previews: | | |
- Jamey, Dave, Heath's Rankings
- My Week 14 Rankings: | | |
🔍Week 14 Game Previews
There's something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. Here's a look ahead at every Week 14 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, the latest injuries, and the toughest lineup decisions:
Patriots at Seelers
- Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Line: Steelers -6; 29.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Steelers 17.75, Patriots 11.75
The Steelers' starting quarterback had ankle surgery this week, and they are six-point favorites. That says something about how the market views the gap between Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky -- minor, at best -- but especially how the market views the Patriots offense. They haven't scored 10 points in a game since Week 9.
- Toughest lineup decision: Diontae Johnson -- Sit. I don't think either Johnson or George Pickens are really must-start options here, especially with the Patriots defense playing better of late. I also didn't love seeing the Steelers go run-heavy even in a trailing script last week -- is that just going to be how they approach the offense moving forward, especially with Tribusky starting? It's a concern, especially against an opponent that doesn't figure to put up many points. Johnson and Pickens are both fringe starting options here, and while I probably prefer Johnson of the two, I don't have a strong conviction either way.
- Injuries to watch: Pickett is out, and Najee Harris is questionable for the Steelers after missing the past two days of practice with a knee injury. If he's out, Jaylen Warren is a top-15 back even against a tough Patriots defense; if he plays, both are in the RB2/3 range of the rankings. Demario Douglas (concussion) will miss yet another game, with the hope he can return in Week 15. Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) has been ruled out as well, and will likely miss at least another game with a high-ankle sprain. DeVante Parker (knee) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle) are both questionable after being limited throughout the week, and neither is more than a desperation play if active.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Falcons -2.5; 39.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Falcons 21, Buccaneers 18.5
The Falcons have the lowest pass rate over expected in the NFL -- that is, no team throws less, relative to the league-average, given the score and game context of each play. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, are one of the biggest pass-funnel defenses in the league, sporting the fourth-highest pass rate over expected of any defense. Is this a situation where the Falcons will actually be aggressive on offense?
- Toughest lineup decision: Drake London -- Start. London is a fringe starting option, as he always is, but given the matchup and the hope that they'll lean more heavily on the pass this week than usual, I'm willing to put him on the start side of fringe. He might throw up 91 yards on five catches like he did two weeks ago; he might have one catch for 8 yards, like he did in Week 13. You know London is a boom-or-bust WR3 at this point, but hopefully the situation this week allows for one of the good outcomes.
- Injuries to watch: Neither team has any Fantasy-relevant injuries to track as of Wednesday.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Chargers -6; 41.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chargers 23.75, Patriots 17.75
The Bears are playing much better football of late, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where they've allowed 352 yards or fewer in seven straight games, after their opponents topped that mark in three of their first five. The Lions did drop 31 points on them in Week 11, but it took a furious late comeback, and they still haven't shown they have an answer for Justin Fields, who is averaging over 125 yards on the ground against them in the past three matchups.
- Toughest lineup decision: Roschon Johnson -- Sit. There's definitely a possibility that I'm wrong on this one, as Johnson looked like he was emerging as the lead back for the Bears in Week 12, when he played 74% of the snaps, by far a career high. However, I wonder if that wasn't more about the absence of D'Onta Foreman than anything else; the Bears might just be souring on Khalil Herbert, who took snaps with the second-team offense when practice opened up Wednesday. Johnson could be a must-start Fantasy option down the stretch, but I'm leaning toward sitting him this week, and I'm trying to avoid Foreman and Herbert, too.
- Injuries to watch: D'Onta Foreman was back at practice on a full basis Wednesday, and was even taking first-team reps ahead of Khalil Herbert. He might be the back to play here if you don't have Johnson.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Colts -1; 42.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Colts 21.75, Bengals 20.75
What Jake Browning's performance in Week 13 -- 354 yards on 32 for 37 passing against the Jaguars -- taught us is that he's capable of a big performance against a decent defense. That was good to see, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee that he can do it regularly. That's what separates even mediocre starters from bench QBs, and it makes sense to still be skeptical about this Bengals offense overall with him at the helm.
- Toughest lineup decision: Josh Downs -- Start. Downs was one of the bigger disappointments in Week 13, catching just three passes for 14 yards on five targets, one week after he earned 13 targets but turned them into just five catches. It leads one to wonder whether he lost out on opportunities because of his inefficiency the prior week, though his snap share was identical, so I'm not sure we can say that with any confidence yet. In eight games where both Downs and Gardner Minshew have played at least 50% of the snaps, Downs has at least eight targets in four, while averaging eight per game. Downs is risky, but in PPR, I'm still starting him against a vulnerable secondary.
- Injuries to watch: Jonathan Taylor (thumb) is expected to miss a few more weeks, so it's no surprise he didn't practice Wednesday. That's the only relevant name on the practice report at this point for either team.
Jaguars at Browns
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Browns -3; 30.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Browns 16.75, Jaguars 13.75
When the line opened, the Jaguars were three-point favorites, with an over/under of 38.5. That means the Browns opened with an implied total of 17.75; most of the movement in that over/under came from the Jaguars side after Trevor Lawrence's injury. There is very little faith in C.J. Beathard here.
- Toughest lineup decision: Calvin Ridley -- Sit. I'm still starting Travis Etienne and Evan Engram if Trevor Lawrence is out, but they're definitely less of a sure thing than they would be with him for obvious reasons. Ridley hasn't been a sure thing at any point this season, and I just don't see how you can roll the dice on him if he has a significant QB downgrade. He still probably has decent upside -- he had a long reception from Beathard called back late Monday night due to a holding penalty -- but the floor is in the basement against this matchup.
- Injuries to watch: Lawrence hasn't been ruled out, but it seems extremely unlikely he's going to be able to play through this injury without missing at least some time. C.J. Beathard (shoulder) was limited and figures to start for the Jaguars. Christian Kirk (groin)'s season is seemingly over as he'll need surgery. On the other side, the Browns were missing Amari Cooper (concussion, ribs) and Kareem Hunt (groin) didn't practice Wednesday, though the latter seems more likely to play as he's been dealing with this injury for a few weeks.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Saints -5; 37.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Saints 21.25, Panthers 16.25
I'll be really interested to see how this line moves throughout the week, with Derek Carr's status very much up in the air. Carr has left three different games with shoulder injuries, has left two of the past three with a concussion, and has a rib injury, and yet there he was, participating in practice Wednesday. I'm not sure how that is possible, but I definitely don't think it's advisable.
- Toughest lineup decision: Adam Thielen -- Sit. I still can't quite bring myself to say Thielen is a must-sit, but he's firmly among the glob of fringe viable WR3/4s. He had just three targets in Week 12 and then followed it up with three catches for 25 yards on six targets in Week 13, as the Panthers clearly made Jonathan Mingo a priority in the first game after Frank Reich's firing. I would expect that to continue, but I'm just not sure I trust Mingo to do a ton with it. Chuba Hubbard might be the only starter on this team right now, and even he's kind of fringe-y.
- Injuries to watch: Taysom Hill (foot/hand) didn't practice Wednesday, so we'll keep an eye on this one. He's been a must-start TE of late, and looks like a solid, unconventional option at this point. Carr has struggled when playing through injuries this season, so I'm wary of this offense if he does try to play through this injury.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Texans -5.5; 32.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Dolphins 29.5, Commanders 20
The line here really didn't move much with news that Zach Wilson is going to return to the starting lineup for the Jets. That's fair, seeing as they averaged 10.3 points in Wilson's final three starts, but I do think he's probably better than the Tim Boyle/Trevor Sieimian combo. That's not saying much, but still.
- Toughest lineup decision: Breece Hall -- Start. It's been a frustrating season for Hall, and it was especially frustrating to see him ceding early-down work to Dalvin Cook last week -- especially since Cook hardly looked worse running the ball. That split will likely continue moving forward, and it makes Hall tough to trust. However, he also still has a massive role in the passing game, and I'm hoping that'll continue and be enough to make him worth starting. Hall's floor on a weekly basis is mostly buoyed by the pass-catching, but the upside comes in if he can break a big play. That's what you're hoping for when you start him.
- Injuries to watch: Dalton Schultz (hamstring) got back to a limited practice Wednesday, so it looks like he's got a chance to return from his injury. He's a top-12 TE if he plays, even in a tough matchup.
- Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
- Line: Texans -3.5; 47.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Texans 25.5, Broncos 22
Matthew Stafford had been playing pretty well for most of the season, but had just one multi-touchdown game to his name through Week 11, with nine total in as many games. Over his past two, he has seven. He's rolling, in other words, however, it'll be tough to trust him in a matchup against what might be the best defense in the NFL. It might be even tougher to trust Cooper Kupp, who hasn't had more than 50 yards in a game since Week 6.
- Toughest lineup decision: Isaiah Likely -- Start. I lean toward starting Likely, even though we really don't have much evidence to go on for him being worth trusting. He has played six games where Mark Andrews has played six games where Mark Andrews was either inactive or played fewer than 15% of the snaps, and Likely has 40 or fewer yards in six of them, including all three this season -- which is concerning, seeing as it's a new offensive system he's been struggling in. However, he also had a touchdown or 100-plus yards in all three such games last season, and that upside is worth chasing. It just isn't a profile you can count on, but Likely has the ceiling you should be chasing at the position if you don't have a sure thing.
- Injuries to watch: Tyler Higbee (neck) didn't practice Wednesday, so if he's been your streaming option at tight end, you should look for another. Puka Nacua (shoulder) was limited to open the week but looks like a good bet to play. He's a must-start option at this point, despite being banged up. Rashod Bateman (illness) is the only Ravens player you need to know about on Wednesday's practice, a good sign coming out of the bye.
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
- Line: Vikings -3; 40.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Vikings 21.75, Raiders 18.75
The Vikings are sticking with Joshua Dobbs as their starting QB in Week 14, and I'm probably sticking with him in Fantasy unless I've got a really compelling alternative. He's not quite a top-12 QB for me, but he's not far off with Justin Jefferson expected back from IR. The only concern really is that he does have a higher chance of getting benched for bad performance than any QB in his range, given the consideration the team gave to benching him during the bye.
- Toughest lineup decision: Jordan Addison -- Sit. As With Jefferson expected back this week, it probably pushes Addison back down to third in the receiving hierarchy for the Vikings. Addison actually had double-digit Fantasy points in five of six games before Jefferson's injury earlier in the season, but there are a couple of asterisks there. Most notably, those six games came with a healthy Kirk Cousins, while Addison is playing with Dobbs now. And Addison also scored a touchdown in four of those six games, and only had one game with more than 65 yards, averaging 46.2 yards per game. Addison is talented enough to where it would be a mistake to write him off entirely, but expectations should be lowered.
- Injuries to watch: Hey, have you heard that Justin Jefferson is coming back this week? He practiced in full and will make his first appearance since Week 6 Sunday, assuming he avoids any kind of setback. Yes, obviously, you're starting him.
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
- Line: 49ers -10.5; 46.5 O/U
- Implied totals: 49ers 28.5, Seahawks 18
As they showed last week when they nearly beat the Cowboys, the Seahawks can hang with anyone when Geno Smith is on top of his game. He hasn't played at that level often enough this season, and it might be asking too much to expect him to do it two games in a row against another one of the league's toughest defenses.
- Toughest lineup decision: DeeJay Dallas -- Sit. If you're absolutely desperate, go pick up Dallas. But only if you are truly desperate, because this does not feel like a good situation he's potentially stepping into. He's the only healthy RB on the Seahawks besides rookie seventh-rounder Kenny McIntosh, so he could be in line for a decent workload. However, we're talking about a back with 111 carries in his career, stretching across four seasons now, going into a matchup where the Seahawks may have to abandon the run early. If Dallas is going to make an impact in Fantasy, it'll be through the receiving game, and that makes him awfully hard to trust, even if he ends up getting the start.
- Injuries to watch: Kenneth Walker (oblique) and Zach Charbonnet (knee) were both held out of practice Wednesday, and the fact that Pete Carroll expressed optimism about both does not necessarily mean they're going to play -- Pete Carroll expressed optimism about everything, refusing to even rule out Walker the past two weeks despite not practicing at all. I'm not saying they're both out; I'm saying to take his optimism with a grain of salt at all times. On the 49ers side, the biggest name on the injury report Wednesday was Elijah Mitchell (knee). He's the primary backup here, , but if he misses this week, it shouldn't affect the game plan too much.
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Line: Chiefs -2; 48.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chiefs 25.25, Bills 23.25
The Chiefs have been winning more because of their defense than their offense this season, and their defense is showing cracks lately, allowing over 350 yards against the Raiders and Packers over the past two weeks. If they can't slow the Bills offense down, does Patrick Mahomes have enough in this offense to keep up? It's the first time we've ever really asked that question, but it's a fair one at this point.
- Toughest lineup decision: Dalton Kincaid -- Start. In five games without Dawson Knox this season, Kincaid is averaging 14.2 PPR points per game, on 7.6 targets; in six games with Knox, he's at 7.4 and 4.5, respectively. Now, of course, the "with Knox" split did come mostly in Kincaid's first two months in the NFL, and tight end is a notoriously slow-developing position, so this could be a case where correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation. I'm willing to give Kincaid the benefit of the doubt this week, but if he's back to mostly being used as a short-area role player, he'll be returning to the realm of the TE2.
- Injuries to watch: Knox practiced (wrist) practiced without limitations Wednesday, so it looks like he's going to be activated from IR. Hopefully, it doesn't derail Kincaid's breakout, but it certainly clouds his future. Isiah Pacheco (shoulder) is dealing with a contusion, which hopefully isn't too serious, but did keep him out of practice Wednesday. We'll watch that one as the week continues.
Broncos at Chargers
- Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
- Line: Chargers -3; 43.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Chargers 23.25, Broncos 20.25
The Broncos saw their five-game winning streak snapped last week, but they're still ahead of the Chargers in the standings. These teams are both a long way from where most expected at the start of the season.
- Toughest lineup decision: Courtland Sutton -- Start. Sure, why not. I've got Sutton as my WR26, which is well behind where he ranks for the season, but still a solid enough starter. He's not entirely a touchdown-or-bust guy, but you're not likely to be happy with what he gives you if he doesn't find the end zone, as he's averaging just 53.1 yards per game right now. Sutton is one of just 11 players with 10 or more targets in the end zone this season, so it's a stretch to say his touchdown rate has been fluky. However, his 62% catch rate on his 13 end zone targets is nearly double the league average of 37%, and that's what's fluky. If the touchdown pace slows, he's just a WR3.
- Injuries to watch: One bit of news from Wednesday's practice that could really matter: Josh Palmer (knee) was back as a limited participant. He had his 21-day window to return from IR opened, and hopefully that means he'll be back soon. I'd be a bit surprised if it was this week, though the Chargers could clearly use him, as nobody has stepped up in the passing game in his absence. He was averaging 84 yards per game from Week 3, when Mike Williams suffered his season-ending injury, through Week 7, Palmer's last healthy game.
Eagles at Cowboys
- Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
- Line: Cowboys -3.5; 51.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Cowboys 27.5, Eagles 24
The stakes here are clear. If the Eagles win, that almost certainly locks up the NFC East crown, and keeps them in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If the Cowboys win, suddenly both races are wide open.
- Toughest lineup decision: Dallas Goedert -- Start. Goedert expects to be back in the lineup for the Eagles this week, after missing three games (and the bye) with a fractured forearm. He had surgery to put a plate in the bone, and has been able to do conditioning drills while away, so he might just be able to return to his typical role. There's certainly risk here -- of re-injury, sure, but also just of him being limited to manage his return -- but unless I have one of the handful of legitimate must-start options at tight end, I'm probably more comfortable rolling with Goedert in a likely shootout over someone like Chig Okonkwo or Brevin Jordan.
- Injuries to watch: Goedert is the big name here, and he practiced in full Wednesday. Otherwise, Rico Dowdle (ankle) is the only name you really have to know about, and he was limited -- not that you should really be considering starting him; .
Titans at Dolphins
- Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Line: Dolphins -13; 46.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Titans 29.75, Titans 16.75
It's not impossible to see the Titans staying competitive in this one, but it would require a vintage Derrick Henry performance and Will Levis' best performance since his debut. It's asking an awful lot of both of them, especially against a Dolphins defense that suddenly looks pretty terrifying.
- Toughest lineup decision: De''Von Achane -- Start. It's true that Achane did nearly all of his work last week in his return from injury last week; he had just three carries for 1 yard at halftime. Some may take that to mean that he's the clear No. 2 for the Dolphins, behind Raheem Mostert. And maybe he will be, but I read his Week 13 usage differently. The fact that the Dolphins were willing to give him 20 touches, mostly after the game was well out of hand, suggests they were merely being careful with his early usage. They wanted to see him play in competitive circumstances, but they didn't want the game to be on his shoulders, given his struggles staying healthy. I'm expecting a bigger early role, but also the potential for plenty of garbage time opportunities in what should be another blowout. Either way, there's no way I'm sitting Achane at this point.
- Injuries to watch: Neither team will release a full practice report until Thursday, so we'll find out if Derrick Henry was able to remain out of the concussion protocol through the week then.
Packers at Giants
- Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Line: Packers -6.5; 36.5 O/U
- Implied totals: Packers 21.5, Giants 15
In Jordan Love, the Packers look like they may have found their next long-term answer at QB. The Giants are still searching, though they did announce this week that Tommy DeVito will remain the starter even with Tyrod Taylor expected back from his rib injury this week.
- Toughest lineup decision: AJ Dillon -- Sit. It kind of depends on Aaron Jones' status, because Dillon's workload over the past three games -- 15.3 carries, 2.7 targets per game -- makes him hard to go away from. But, even with that workload, he's averaging just 10.3 PPR points per game. He's had a couple of close calls on touchdowns that could have changes his outlook, but the fact of the matter is, he just isn't doing much with a huge workload, and he's a fringe option if that workload goes away.
- Injuries to watch: Neither team will release a full practice report until Thursday, with Christian Watson (hamstring) and Aaron Jones (knee) the key names we'll be watching for here.