I hope Week 14 of the Fantasy Football season went better for you than it did for me. I made the playoffs in eight leagues, and I'm still alive in just three of them -- and two of those were bye weeks for me. It's not what you want to see, and it's a frustrating way for my season to be coming to a close, but I've got two things going for me -- I guess five, if you include the three leagues I'm still playing in, but nevertheless: 1) I can still help all of you win your championships; 2) There's always next year.
The NFL offseason is long, but I'll be in your inbox every week with the Fantasy Football Today newsletter -- subscribe here! -- as we go through it together, from the NFL playoffs through free agency and the draft and all the way through training camp, and we'll probably get some guest appearances from the rest of the FFT crew, too. I want to make sure your subscription to this newsletter helps you win your championship every year, and that starts in the offseason -- plus, we'll be here for you Dynasty players, too.
But, of course, we're not done with this season yet -- the Ravens and Browns reminded us of that Monday night in a big way. Monday saw some injury updates that we'll get into in depth Tuesday and beyond, but here's what you need to know:
- Jalen Hurts will remain the Eagles starting QB. No surprise after a big win over the Saints.
- Ronald Jones has a fractured pinky and could miss Week 15
- Matthew Stafford could miss Week 15 with a rib injury.
- Deebo Samuel could miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury.
- Mike Gesicki's shoulder injury could also cost him time.
- Gardner Minshew is back in the starting QB spot for the Jaguars, which should be good news for DJ Chark, at least.
I'll blend in weekly analysis through Week 17 -- including this week's top waiver-wire priorities today! -- with some looks ahead to 2021, and I'll start that today with a breakdown of what I think the first round in Fantasy drafts should look like for 2021. There will surely be some new faces in the first round, and you almost certainly won't agree with all of my picks, so shoot me an email at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com with the subject line "2021 First Round" with your picks and I'll share some of them throughout the week.
But first, some winners and losers from that Ravens-Browns spectacular, plus Jamey Eisenberg's top waiver-wire priorities. And, if you missed anything from Monday, check out my Winners and Losers from Week 14 and Heath Cummings' Believe It Or Not column, where he dives into some of the biggest storylines from the week to separate fact from fiction. Now, let's get you to the championship game.
Projecting 2021's First Round
I got into a discussion on Twitter yesterday afternoon about who the No. 1 RB in Dynasty leagues should be right now, and I said it's still Christian McCaffrey for me, despite this disappointing season. Someone else asked me who the No. 1 RB should be for re-draft leagues for 2021, and I had the same answer. Which is kind of surprising right? McCaffrey has played just three games this season while dealing with three separate injuries, an ominous sign coming off his 400-touch 2019 campaign. Was that just bad luck, or is he hitting a Todd Gurley-esque wall?
So, I decided to actually put together a projected first round for 2021 leagues. A lot can and will change between now and then, of course, but with three games left in the regular season, here's where things stand in my eyes:
- 1.1 - Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR -- I'm not too worried about McCaffrey's injury-plagued 2020. Generally speaking, I think injuries -- especially the one-time issues McCaffrey has had -- are best used as a tie-breaker for Fantasy, and I don't think anyone else in Fantasy is anywhere close to a tie with McCaffrey. He's averaged 30.1 points per game in his three starts, and if you just add what Mike Davis has done in his starts, they've combined to be the No. 4 RB in Fantasy. Imagine what McCaffrey would have done with a full season. Nobody else can come close to matching McCaffrey's upside, and he doesn't have that much more risk than the next few names on the list.
- 1.2 - Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN -- Cook is putting the injury concerns behind him for the most part -- he's dealt with a few scares, but has missed just three games over the past two seasons. And Cook is putting together a massive season, on pace for nearly 2,100 yards from scrimmage and nearly 20 touchdowns. You can't expect that kind of pace every season, but he's the focal point of this offense, and there's no reason to think that will change. In fact, there's probably still some untapped potential for Cook as a receiver.
- 1.3 - Alvin Kamara, RB, NO -- There will be all kinds of arguments about Kamara's value if Taysom Hill is starting at QB for the Saints next season, but for now, I'll assume Drew Brees is returning. That keeps Kamara firmly in the elite category at running back, given how much Brees leans on him in the passing game. If it's Hill, Kamara may be more like a late-first-rounder -- and some will argue even lower.
- 1.4 - Davante Adams, WR, GB -- Here's Adam's last 16 games, including last year's playoffs: 135 receptions, 1,754 yards, and 18 touchdowns. OK, he won't do that for a whole season, but as long as he is Aaron Rodgers' favorite target, Adams is going to be one of the best wide receivers in Fantasy. At 28 in 2021, Adams might be getting close to the end of his peak, but he's shown no signs of slowing down.
- 1.5 - Travis Kelce, TE, KC -- We're going to be investing a lot in the Chiefs passing game in 2021, so let's hope their new pass-happier approach sticks. Kelce will be 32 next October, so there's always a chance he's about to hit his decline phase, but we sure haven't seen that yet. Kelce is, by any possible measure, having his best season in the NFL, leading the NFL in receiving yards on pace for a 111-catch, 1,538-yard, 11-touchdown season. Kelce could hit a wall and prove to be a significant disappointment, but there is a more than 100-point gap between him and the No. 3 TE in PPR leagues this season, and that kind of edge just doesn't exist anywhere else.
- 1.6 - Tyreek Hill, WR, KC -- Here are Hill's past 16 games: 94 receptions, 1,371 yards, 16 touchdowns, plus 133 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It's not quite what Adams has done, but it's not far off, and both Hill and Mahomes are still very much in their primes.
- 1.7 - Derrick Henry, RB, TEN -- Maybe all the carries will catch up to him. Maybe he'll find touchdowns harder to come by. Maybe he won't hit for as many big plays. Maybe, maybe, maybe … What is there to gain by doubting him anymore? His lack of passing game work makes Henry's season-long upside a bit lower than the rest of the elite backs, but as we're seeing this season, it's not that much lower.
- 1.8 - Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG -- It's going to be fascinating to see what happens with Barkley's draft value coming off his torn ACL. He should be 100% before training camp, and we know he's second to only McCaffrey when it comes to the potential to dominate in both facets of the game. However, he will be coming off a major surgery with all the risk that entails, and there doesn't seem to be much reason to think the Giants offense is about to take a step forward, so there's a lot that could go wrong. This spot feels aggressive without seeing how his rehab is going or what the Giants add on offense around him, but I'm OK being aggressive with a guy who could be the No. 1 back in Fantasy.
- 1.9 - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL -- Here's a reminder that no running back except maybe McCaffrey is truly context independent. Elliott looked like the best back in Fantasy before Dak Prescott's injury, averaging 20.3 points per game. It might be tough for some to wash the taste of the post-Dak era out of their mouths, and Elliott could tumble down draft boards if Prescott signs elsewhere. I'll assume he returns and draft Elliott accordingly.
- 1.10 - James Robinson, RB, JAC -- It feels like there is a tier drop here, and Robinson could be swapped with Aaron Jones or Austin Ekeler here and I wouldn't bat an eye. However, Robinson could finish with 275 carries and 65 catches, and that kind of role is too hard to pass up here. Let's just hope the Jaguars can find an upgrade at quarterback and bring this offense to respectability. A Joe Burrow-esque impact at QB could be huge for Robinson's value, given what he's done with the Jags mess.
- 1.11 - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARI -- Hopkins has slowed down a bit in the second half of the season, and Kyler Murray hasn't quite developed as a passer the way we wanted him to, but Hopkins is still on pace for 116 catches and 1,422 yards -- if he had a bit more touchdown luck, there wouldn't be any doubt he belongs in the first round. Betting on that feels like a smart idea.
- 1.12 - Aaron Jones, RB, GB -- Jones regressed, as expected, and he's still a top-five running back in Fantasy points per game. He's still splitting work with Jamaal Williams more than we might prefer, and he'll probably still be splitting with Williams or A.J. Dillon more than we might prefer next season. However, as long as he's the lead back alongside Aaron Rodgers, fading him will probably be a mistake.
First five out …
- 2.1 - DK Metcalf, WR, SEA -- I'm skeptical Metcalf can maintain his monster Fantasy points per target pace, but I was skeptical about him after his rookie season, too. If there is regression coming, he can make up for it with more volume.
- 2.2 - Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC -- He's seventh at RB in points per game despite playing just three snaps in one game and scoring just one touchdown. This might be too low.
- 2.3 - Michael Thomas, WR, NO -- This one might be too low, too; he was the consensus No. 1 WR coming into this season, remember. And he's been surprisingly great with Taysom Hill, who is just feeding him targets.
- 2.4 - Nick Chubb, RB, CLE -- With Kareem Hunt likely going nowhere, Chubb is locked into a timeshare. That's a timeshare that still gets him nearly 20 carries every game, but it's also one that has limited him to 17 receptions in 16 games alongside Hunt.
- 2.5 - George Kittle, TE, SF -- Kittle's per-16-game pace over the last three seasons is 93 receptions, 1,291 yards, and five touchdowns; he just may be as good as Kelce on a per-game basis.
- Lamar Jackson -- Jackson was having trouble keeping on his feet early in the game, but the Browns couldn't keep up with him either, as he ran for nearly 80 yards in the first half. Then he went into the locker room at halftime, put on some new cleats, and tore through the Browns defense for a 44-yard score, his second of the game. The passing game was nearly non-existent until the final minutes, however he made something happen on the fourth-down touchdown to Marquise Brown and then finally established his connection with Mark Andrews to lead to the game-winning field goal. The passing still isn't where we'd like it to be, but Jackson reminded us all how risky it is to consider sitting him at any point.
- Rashard Higgins -- It has flown largely under the radar because the volume hasn't been there, but Higgins has been mostly excellent since Odell Beckham's injury. Including that game against the Bengals, Higgins has 26 catches on 38 targets for 415 yards and a couple of scores -- both of which have come in the past two games with Higgins earning 19 targets. If the Browns are throwing the ball, Higgins is their No. 2 option, and he could be an interesting option for deeper leagues against the Giants and Jets.
- J.K. Dobbins -- Look, you're never going to complain about two touchdowns in as many games, but Dobbins clearly hasn't taken over this backfield the way we hoped he would. He's the lead back, sure, but it's more like a 60-40 split with Gus Edwards, plus a three-way split near the goal line. Dobbins has been good, but he's a touchdown dependent borderline RB2, not the breakout star we hoped would carry people to a championship.
- Marquise Brown -- Brown scored for the third straight game, but he still isn't playing very well. He dropped three passes Monday, and that touchdown was more about Jackson breaking down the defense with his legs than Brown doing anything special besides being very fast. That's a good skill to have, and it will lead to the occasional big play, but I still don't trust Brown down the stretch -- though it may be hard to get away from him in Week 15 against the Jaguars.
- Jeff Wilson (19%) -- Raheem Mostert has been trying to gut it out through several injuries this season, and it seems like he might have another one that could have his status for Week 15 in doubt. Coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Monday Mostert is dealing with another ankle injury, and the team is waiting for more tests to determine the severity. Mostert missed more than a month as a result of a high-ankle sprain earlier in the season and hasn't looked right since, so it seems like there's a real chance he could miss more time. That would push Jerick McKinnon back into the offensive game plan after he's been phased out in recent weeks, but Wilson should be the lead back. He had 112 yards and three touchdowns in his only start of the season in Week 7, and while you can't expect a repeat of that, Wilson should be in line for 15 carries and hopefully a few targets against a bad Cowboys defense, and could be a big-time contributor this week off the wire.
- Jalen Hurts (25%) -- You're buying the rushing ability with Hurts as much as anything else, but based on what we saw in Week 14, he could be about as good as anyone in that category. I think Hurts should be a top-12 QB this week against the Cardinals.
- Mitchell Trubisky (30%) -- On Monday's episode of Fantasy Football Today on CBS Sports HQ, Jamey Eisenberg asked me if I could "trust" Trubisky in Week 15, and I gave the only honest answer I could: "Oh, heavens, no." Trubisky has actually played pretty well this season since getting benched, and the Vikings in Week 15 is a good one -- the one in Week 16 against the Jaguars is even better. He could absolutely be a top-five QB for the rest of the season, or he could get benched at halftime this week. There's risk there, but the reward could be worth it if you're streaming.
- Nelson Agholor (66%) -- I was skeptical of buying in on Agholor early on, because he had just one game with more than four targets in the Raiders first nine, despite scoring five touchdowns in that span. However, he has at least six targets in each of his last four (and at least nine in three of four), which makes it a lot easier to buy in. I don't trust him much more than I do Trubisky, but there's upside that you can't just write off, especially with a good matchup against the Chargers.
- Irv Smith (6%) -- If Kyle Rudolph's foot injury keeps him out again in Week 15, Smith is going to be in the top-12 range for sure. There's no denying his talent, it's just been a lack of opportunity and his own health issues holding him back this season. If he's healthy and Rudolph is out, he's one of the better streaming options at tight end.
MNF Recap: Ravens 47, Browns 42
What an incredible game. What started out as a sloppy affair early on turned into maybe the most thrilling game of the NFL season, as Browns and Ravens went back and forth in the fourth quarter before Justin Tucker booted a 55-yarder to win the game. In between, we saw nine rushing touchdowns, one of Lamar Jackson's finest performances as a runner, and a miracle touchdown on fourth down with Lamar Jackson coming back from the locker room after receiving treatment for what he swears were cramps.
This was one of those games we'll remember and talk about for a long time, and there was plenty of Fantasy intrigue to it, too. And I just hope none of you lost on that Ravens safety at the end, because that would go down as an all-time bad beat. Here are two winners and two losers from this wild one:
Before waivers run tonight, check out Jamey Eisenberg's Waiver Wire priorities column, with the best targets for every position. Here are Jamey's top-five targets for Week 15, and make sure you check out Tuesday's Fantasy Football Today podcast for even more in-depth discussions of the top options for the week:
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 15 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.