Trending and NoteWorthy: Illusions, risers and must-start performers
The Fantasy Football playoffs are here and while I can’t help but look back at what I did wrong and why I missed the playoffs, this is the time we should be looking at what can be done to win that money. The bye weeks are over, opening up roster spots, while injuries (and suspensions) are piling up.
Matchups, both good and bad, are more relevant in the Fantasy playoffs than at any time during the regular Fantasy season. Owners shouldn’t be too cute and should always start their studs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of difficult Flex calls.
Here are Week 14’s “Trending and NoteWorthy” players and situations.
Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled
Spencer Ware, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Opponent: vs. Baltimore Ravens
Ware is perceived to be a dual-threat, three-down running back on an explosive offense and an exciting late season waiver wire steal. All relatively true. What he isn’t is Kareem Hunt in any facet. With Hunt gone and Damien Williams also there, it’s unlikely that Ware replaces Hunt touch-for-touch and yard-for-yard. He rushed 14 times for 47 yards, 3.4 yards per carry, and caught one pass for five yards in Week 13 against the lowly Oakland Raiders.
In Week 14, Ware faces a Ravens defense that ranks second in rushing yards allowed (780), third in touchdowns allowed (Five) and first in receiving yards (306) and Fantasy points allowed per game to running backs (17.0).
Williams will vulture some touches and targets while the Ravens will limit his yards from scrimmage and make it difficult to run it in in the red zone.
This is a matchup to avoid for running backs and a player to bench in both yearly leagues and DFS. Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled.
Peyton Barber, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: vs. New Orleans Saints
Barber has been NoteWorthy the last three weeks. He had 16, 18 and 18 rushing attempts and scored a touchdown in three straight games. The unfortunate flip side is that in his last two games he rushed for 45 and 47 yards and 2.8 and 2.6 yards per carry, respectively. Touchdowns are nice, 2.8 and 2.6 yards per carry are not.
A recent boost in rushing attempts makes Barber a Flex consideration while the yards per carry and the Saints run defense make him a poor bet to be a viable running back in the Fantasy playoffs.
The Saints rank third in Fantasy points allowed (19.7), fourth in touchdowns allowed (six) and have allowed the fewest rushing yards in football (631). Barber isn’t explosive and the Saints matchup is a bad one. Fantasy owners love touchdowns and three straight games is a nice trend. Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled. Not this week.
Justin Jackson, RB Los Angeles Chargers
Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 13 Relevant Stats:
Eight Rushing Attempts – 63 Rushing Yards – One Touchdown
One Target – One Reception – 19 Receiving Yards
Jackson was out-carried by Austin Ekeler almost two to one against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Melvin Gordon’s absence. His modest workload could be blamed on gameflow because the Chargers were behind most of the game, or it could be game plan related. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry and looked explosive, especially compared to Austin Ekeler and his 1.6 yards per carry average.
The Chargers Week 14 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, have allowed a league-worst 1,515 rushing yards and 32.9 Fantasy points per game to running backs and they rank 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed with 13.
The Bengals are the matchup Fantasy owners want in the Fantasy playoffs and analysts wish we had last week to get a sense of how the Chargers will use him. There is a risk that Jackson could receive eight to ten carries rather than 15-18, but even limited touches should make him a Flex starter and there is upside to be a RB1. Ekeler proved he can’t handle being a three-down runner and that he can’t run between the tackles, especially on running downs. Jackson is a must-start running back in yearly leagues and a legitimate DFS consideration.
LeGarrette Blount, RB Detroit Lions
Opponent: @Arizona Cardinals
Blount has an intriguing matchup and has always been an intriguing player. He is a bruiser with some “quicks” and while he is a pedestrian plodder between the 20’s, he is Fantasy relevant because of his potential at the goal line.
He had 16 rushing attempts in Week 13 and 19 in Week 12 for 88 and 61 rushing yards against the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, respectively. They are two defenses significantly more stout against the run than the Arizona Cardinals and that’s what makes Blount NoteWorthy.
The Cardinals rank 29th in Fantasy points allowed (30.8), they are one of only two defenses that have allowed over 1,500 rushing yards (ranking them 31st with 1,503 yards allowed) and they are 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed (15).
I don’t typically recommend running backs that rely so heavily on touchdowns to be truly relevant, but the Cardinals are a matchup to target and Blount provides just enough yards from scrimmage to be a low-end Flex when he doesn’t score in the red zone. Blount is a Flex play in yearly leagues and a risk/reward/affordably priced DFS tournament consideration.
Dante Pettis, WR San Francisco 49ers
Opponent: vs Denver Broncos
Pettis has four receptions or more in three straight games and in his last two, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and at the Seattle Seahawks, he has nine total receptions, 206 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The Broncos allow 37.6 points per game to wide receivers and have allowed a poultry 13 receiving touchdowns. Pettis is a bargain basement DFS option and has a chance to be a sneaky start in the yearly league playoffs. He’s NoteWorthy this week and could be Trending next. We’ll see.
Nick Chubb, RB Cleveland Browns
Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers
Chubb is a must-start in yearly leagues. Four consecutive games with a touchdown and five touchdowns in his last six, 18 rushing attempts or more in five of his last six games and 80 rushing yards or more in four of those six as well.
He is NoteWorthy because it’s a home game against a stingy Carolina Panthers team that may be in freefall after losing four straight games, including an ugly loss against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that isn’t very good. Despite their recent slide, the Panthers are only a half game out of the Wild Card in the NFC. It’s a difficult spot for the Browns, a must-win for the Panthers and it could be tricky for DFS players.
The Panthers haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week Two, when Tevin Coleman rushed for 107 yards on 16 attempts. I hate basing any opinion on “feel,” but this game “feels” like a clunker for Chubb. I believe in the mantra, “You always play your studs” and because of that I can’t recommend benching him in the Fantasy playoffs, but I can in DFS. I don’t like the matchup and the circumstances surrounding Chubb in this one and in DFS where price and matchup matters, I am avoiding him and I suggest you do too.
LeSean McCoy, RB Buffalo Bills
Opponent: vs. New York Jets
Three Games – 58 Rushing Attempts – Six Targets – 24 Receiving Yards
McCoy’s volume of touches is impossible to ignore and that’s why he deserves a NoteWorthy mention. 58 rushing attempts in only three games ranks seventh amongst running backs in attempts over the last four weeks.
The yards per carry have been subpar and he only has two touchdowns in those three games, but almost 20 carries per game is too much volume to wave away.
McCoy faces a Jets defense that he gashed for 113 yards and two touchdowns in Week 10. The Bills inability to fully utilize McCoys shiftiness in the passing game has made him a difficult Flex decision, but his recent workload and success against the Jets positions him squarely as a Flex starter this week. Owners should take a peek at his price tag in DFS to determine his viability in those formats as well.