Looking back at Fantasy football drafts, nobody would call the fifth-round Average Draft Position of Cam Akers or Jonathan Taylor's a good value, and yet it seems all but assured that they will be among the big early-round risers when we start drafting for 2021. Funny how that works. Taylor and (especially) Akers have been pretty big disappointments this season when viewed in totality, but with monster performances in Week 14 and leading up to it, it's not hard to see both trending toward being top-30 picks next summer. It's all about timing.
Taylor's late-season emergence hasn't come from out of nowhere quite like Akers' -- though he has been stuck in a timeshare all season, Taylor had double-digit carries in six straight games from Weeks 2-8. He briefly dipped behind both Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, playing just 30% of the Colts' snaps from Weeks 8-10, but has rushed for at least 90 yards in three straight, capped off by his best performance of the season in Week 14 when he rushed for 150 yards and two scores on 20 carries while adding two catches for 15 yards. Nyheim Hines (11 touches) isn't going away, but Jordan Wilkins has just nine touches over the past two games (two Sunday), so this looks like a two-back committee with Taylor in the lead.
As impressive as Taylor was Sunday, Akers was even better Thursday night. He dominated the Rams win over the Patriots, playing 79% of the snaps and rushing for 171 yards on 29 carries and adding two catches for 23 yards on three targets; the rest of the Rams backs had two carries and one target between them, a huge change from the status quo. It took until Week 13 for Akers to have 20 carries or play more than 33% of the snaps for the Rams, but he's now logged 50 carries over the last two games. On a team that very much wants to run the ball early and often, Akers looks like he could lead you to a championship, especially with a matchup against the Jets on the way in Week 15.
Both players will be hot commodities in drafts next season, and it's not impossible to see both working their way into the first-round discussion with a strong finish -- we saw Miles Sanders and Kenyan Drake do the same last season. Whether they'll be worth that price remains to be seen, but Taylor and Akers were clearly two of the biggest winners from around the NFL on Week 14, and they'll be part of plenty of championship lineups from the look of things.
Here are some of the other biggest winners from Week 14:
I had a feeling Sanders would get going in Week 14 -- I even said it on our Sunday morning Start/Sit show on the Fantasy Football Today Twitch stream. My thought process was pretty simple: Running quarterbacks tend to create more efficient running opportunities for their running backs, especially in the read-option game. What makes the read-option so effective when it works is that the defense has to defend 11 players on every play instead of just 10. It doesn't always work out that way, but it sure did for the Eagles on Sunday as Sanders and Jalen Hurts ran all over the Saints defense, previously one of the best in the NFL against the run. Maybe this attack will get figured out in Week 15 against the Cardinals, however between the added threat of Hurts' rushing ability and Sanders' five targets Sunday, he's back in the circle of trust for the final few weeks.
You usually shouldn't bet on outliers, but you don't want to be stubborn or blind to reality. Running backs who don't catch passes have a much lower margin for error in Fantasy than those who do, but Henry's ability to consistently break off big plays in the running game and his absolutely dominance of the Titans red-zone work allows him to thrive in spite of that, and that's what makes him so special. He took advantage of an excellent matchup in Week 14, and he has two more with the Lions and Packers on the way over the next two weeks. If you have Henry and you don't win the championship at this point, it would be a pretty big upset.
Before the Bucs bye in Week 13, Bruce Arians told reporters they had to find a way to get Jones 20 touches more consistently, and he decided to just take the path of least resistance Sunday, making Leonard Fournette a healthy scratch ahead of the matchup against the Vikings. With just LeSean McCoy and Ke'Shawn Vaughn active and neither much more than a role player at these very different points in their careers, it was pretty easy to make Jones a focal point. He didn't quite get to 20 touches, but you'll take 18 carries and two targets every week in this offense. Especially if you finally know you can expect something like that every week. It looks like you finally can.
If you had told me before Sunday's game between the Bears and Texans that Mitchell Trubisky had thrown 10 more passes than the Bears had rush attempts, I would have assumed something went terribly wrong for them. However, the Texans defense has been the kind of unit against whom seemingly everything goes right all season, and that was the same for Trubisky, who completed 24 of 33 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Trubisky has actually been pretty good over the past three weeks, and he closes out the Fantasy season against the Vikings and Jaguars in Weeks 15 and 16. Will you feel good if you start Trubisky in the Fantasy playoffs? Of course not! But if you're desperate, he should be one of the better streamers out there in Week 15.
The Hilton-aissance continues! Hilton, who was all but left for dead by Fantasy players, scored for the third straight game Sunday while catching five of seven passes for 86 yards. He now has 17 catches on 23 targets and 277 yards during his scoring streak, and he's surely won quite a few of your Fantasy playoff matchups after the person who originally drafted him dropped him. That's always a nice feeling, and with a matchup against the Texans on the way in Week 15, it sure seems like he's going to help you get to the championship, too. What's going to be interesting to see is what this late-season run does for Hilton's draft price in 2021.