Fantasy Football is a weird game.
I had two different leagues where I started and got nothing from Tee Higgins and Tony Jones Sunday. In one, my team predictably floundered -- I was the lowest-scoring team of the week, though I was still able to lock in a playoff spot thanks to another team's loss. The other team, however, had the best week of the season for any team -- and the fifth-highest single-week score for any team in this league dating back to its inception in 2012.
Higgins' situation was one of the most frustrating of the season -- one of the most frustrating I can remember -- as I wrote about in my recap of the injuries from Sunday you need to know about, because it could have been avoided if the Bengals were interested in being honest with us. Higgins apparently suffered a setback in pre-game warmups, but still somehow managed to get on the field for one snap, and apparently had a series of plays drawn up for him in case the Bengals needed it. So ... was he available, or not? And if not, why couldn't they have let us know before the game? It's maddening, and I just hope it didn't cost any of you a playoff spot -- though I'm sure it did.
Higgins' wasn't the only notable injury from Sunday's games, of course. Before we get to the rest of the Week 14 recap -- including my five biggest winners and losers plus early waiver-wire targets coming out of Sunday's games for Week 15 -- here's a quick recap of the biggest injuries you need to know about:
- Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers (ankle) -- It sounds like a high-ankle sprain, which might end Samuel's Fantasy season.
- Dameon Pierce, RB, Texans (ankle) -- The extent isn't known, but even a one-week absence would be pretty harmful at this point. Neither Dare Ogunbowale or Rex Burkhead would likely be a top-30 RB if Pierce is out
- Jeff Wilson, RB, Dolphins (hip) -- Wilson had to be carted to the locker room due to the injury, which isn't a great sign. Raheem Mostert would be a top-24 RB even in a tough matchup if Wilson is out.
- Russell Wilson/Tyler Huntley/Kenny Pickett (concussion) -- All three were forced out by concussions.
The rest of today's newsletter is focused on hitting the rest of the biggest storylines from Sunday's action before we move on to Week 15 and the Fantasy playoffs. We'll have a full breakdown of the Week 15 waiver targets and rankings tomorrow, so here's your look back:
Week 14 Recap
Five biggest winners
- J.K. Dobbins – I'll be honest, Dobbins' early long run to set up his touchdown wasn't nearly as impressive as it looks in the box score – he had a massive hole on one cut and got caught from behind on a play he probably should've scored pretty easily on. But if you watch the rest of his carries, I thought he looked pretty good – he ran hard and showed good balance, changing speed and direction easily despite coming off his second knee surgery in the past 15 months. Of course, it's the fact that he even got 15 carries in his first game back that makes Dobbins a winner. He said he felt much better immediately after the cleanup procedure and immediately came back to match a career-high in carries. That's a great sign for his health, as well as his chances to be a top-24 back the rest of the way. Dobbins isn't an RB1 or anything, but he should be worth starting moving forward.
- Trevor Lawrence – Lawrence looked no worse for the wear despite coming off a toe injury. In fact, he had arguably his best game ever, throwing for 368 yards and three touchdowns and adding 7 yards and a score on the ground. Lawrence has five straight games without an interception, with 10 touchdowns in that span, and the biggest question might have been his health coming into Sunday. He put that to bed, and though the schedule the next few weeks isn't great – vs. DAL, @NYJ – a matchup with Houston in the Fantasy championships in Week 17 could be huge.
- Jerry Jeudy – It's been a tough, tough year for the Broncos offense, so it was nice to see a bright spot for Jeudy Sunday. With Courtland Sutton (hamstring) out, Jeudy was the clear top target in the passing game, catching eight of nine passes for 73 yards and three touchdowns. The touchdowns are fluke-y, of course, but it was still the kind of game we needed to see from him with Sutton out. I don't know if I could trust him for Week 14 – especially if Brett Rypien is starting – but he'll be in the WR3 discussion.
- Geno Smith – With DeeJay Dallas and Kenneth Walker sidelined by their ankle injuries, there was a lot of discussion this week about whether Tony Jones or Travis Homer would be the lead back for the Seahawks. As it turns out, it didn't really matter – they ran the ball just 10 times with their running backs. The Seahawks lost, but I'd bet if they're without Dallas and Walker again in Week 15 – as I suspect they may be – they'll once again lean heavily on the pass. It's a tough matchup with the 49ers, but seeing Smith put up 25 Fantasy points in a pass-first game plan feels like a pretty good sign.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones – Deshaun Watson looked a little better, but this offense is still a long way from where the Browns want it to be. Peoples-Jones was a real bright spot, however, as he played every snap and led the team in every receiving category en route to a 12-8-114 line. Amari Cooper wasn't 100% with a hip injury, but he played 44 of 48 passing downs, so this wasn't just DPJ thriving without the team's No. 1 WR. He's a terrific downfield playmaker, and I liked him as a sleeper coming into the season as a new version of what Will Fuller did with Watson in Houston. This was a very, very promising outing in that vein, as Peoples-Jones' 178 air yards were the second most for any player in the league this week.
Five biggest losers
- Tom Brady – On the one hand, this is just what the 49ers seem to do these days. They made the Dolphins look awful in Week 13, and they did the same thing to the Buccaneers Sunday, with Brady getting to 253 yards on 55 attempts with two interceptions and one touchdown. There was a 68-yard touchdown to Mike Evans nullified by a holding penalty, too. On the other hand were Brady's continued struggles, especially connecting with Evans – he ended one drive with an awful throw to Evans, low and behind him, in the end zone. He hasn't looked right all season, the Buccaneers line remains a problem, and I just can't trust him in Week 15 against the Bengals.
- Tua Tagovailoa – Tagovailoa doesn't have the excuse of an opponent that shuts down everything in its path this week – the Chargers have barely shut out anyone the past few years. However, they doubled down on San Francisco's press-heavy coverage approach to disrupt Miami's timing, and Tagovailoa was a disaster – there's simply no other word for 10 for 28 for 145 yards and one score against one of the league's worst defenses. Miami's offensive line is a problem, and Jaylen Waddle certainly isn't 100%. However, coming off two terrible, sloppy performances in a row, Tagovailoa now heads to Buffalo on a short week in what could be bad weather, and while he torched the Bills the last time, it's hard to have confidence he'll do it again at this point. Suddenly, the playoff schedule – @BUF, vs. GB, @NE – looks pretty daunting.
- Saquon Barkley – Barkley's neck injury limited him to 20 snaps Sunday, though it wasn't all because of the neck – as he told reporters after the game, he was limited in the second half because of the lopsided nature of the 48-22 final score. Honestly? It doesn't necessarily make me feel much better. Barkley was legitimately in question as of Sunday morning, and while it's great that he ended up playing, I'm definitely concerned there could be some limitations ahead, especially if the suddenly reeling Giants tenuous grasp on a playoff spot starts to slip. A loss next week would drop them to 7-6-1, likely putting them on the outside looking in with a potentially less than 100% Barkley – who hasn't looked great lately anyway. Barkley looked like arguably the top player in Fantasy early on this season – now, he's more of a fringe RB1 with some real downside risk.
- D'Andre Swift – When Swift popped back up on the practice report this week with an ankle injury, I was a teeny, tiny bit worried that it might be an ominous portent, but I brushed it away. Seeing him re-emerge as the team's go-to back in Week 13 was just so exciting, I didn't want to believe they'd go backwards. But that's exactly what happened Sunday, as Swift found himself in a three-way split in Detroit's backfield, playing 34% of the snaps and getting six carries and four targets in the 34-23 win over the Vikings. I thought he might be an RB1 for the Fantasy playoffs; instead, he's back to being a pretty risky, fringe RB2. At best.
- James Cook – We've been waiting for someone in Buffalo's backfield to really break out for years, so we should have been wary about the excitement surrounding James Cook. His usage in Week 13 was incredibly encouraging, but now it looks more like a short-week outlier – he was back to a bit role Sunday, playing 22 of 54 snaps and finishing with four carries and one target – Devin Singletary played 27 snaps, had eight carries, and two targets. Cook is a real hindrance to Singletary's value, and I'm not sure you can trust anyone but Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in this offense right now. But Cook also clearly isn't at the point where he has enough value of his own that you can trust him, unfortunately.
Five Early Waiver Targets
- Evan Engram, TE, Jagaurs (62%)
- D.J. Chark, WR, Lions (65%)
- Chris Moore, WR, Texans (5%)
- Ben Skowronek, WR, Rams (5%)
- Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Texans (0%)