15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 14
Weeks ago, Russell Wilson's matchup against the Giants looked, at worst, like a neutral one. Weeks ago, we were excited about the thought of Miles Sanders facing a completely beatable Green Bay Packers rush defense. Weeks ago, we wouldn't have ever thought Justin Herbert could have a dud against the New England Patriots.
Welcome to the NFL.
The fantasy football playoffs are here, and there's a chance your team isn't as ready as you once thought it would be for them. Because things change in the National Football League. A lot. Often.
It's not too late to make some moves, though. No, I know, you're not trading for players anymore. But you can still use the waiver wire to shape your team.
That's where yours truly comes in.
Note: There are still some buy and sell transactions in this week's column despite the fact that most trade deadlines have passed. You can use these recommendations to understand whether we should expect a player to continue his pace down the stretch or not.
Hold Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert has been automatic for most of the 2020 season. He got his first start in Week 2, and from that point through Week 11, he averaged over 24 points per game while dipping below 20 points in a single game just once.
Over the last two weeks, it's been a different story. Week 12 featured a game where Herbert posted 16.4 points, and then, on Sunday, he had a complete dud, scoring 4.4. Maybe this is the start of a downward spiral, but the good news is that the Chargers get the Falcons, Raiders, and Broncos through the end of the fantasy season. None of those teams rank as a scary matchup in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, with Atlanta coming in as the top matchup in the league. Herbert should still be a QB1 -- perhaps more of a lower-end one now -- down the stretch.
Buy Ryan Tannehill
To reiterate, I'm fully aware that 99.9% of leagues have seen their trade deadlines come and go. You can't actually go out and try to get Ryan Tannehill. With that being said, after three straight strong performances from the Tennessee signal-caller, we should all expect a couple of more in the fantasy football playoffs.
As I've alluded to over the last month with Derrick Henry, the Titans have a great, great schedule from Weeks 14 through 16. Specifically to Tannehill, Week 14 features a game against the Jaguars, a team that ranks as the fifth-most advantageous matchup in adjusted points allowed to quarterbacks. Then, in Week 15, he'll face the Lions, who rank 13th-easiest.
Tannehill's had an up-and-down year from a fantasy perspective, but I'd feel good about him at least through Week 15.
Drop Darius Slayton
With any recommendation made in this column, you've got to put your league in context. Should you drop Darius Slayton in a 16-team league that has 10 bench spots? No, you shouldn't. If you're in a 10- or possibly 12-team league with a shallow bench? Go for it. Slayton hasn't given us a top-20 performance since Week 5 against Dallas, and since Sterling Shepard returned to the field, Slayton's seen his target share per game rate go from 23.7% to 12.3%. He's now seen fewer than 6% of the Giants' targets over the last two weeks. Regardless of matchup, there's little chance I'd be trusting him in the fantasy football playoffs.
Add Keke Coutee
Keke Coutee was a 15 Transactions feature last week, and then he exceeded all expectations in Week 13. Without the suspended Will Fuller in the lineup, Coutee saw 24.3% of the Texans' targets, catching 8 passes for 141 yards. What was really good to see, too, was the Coutee wasn't only seeing targets close to the line of scrimmage like we'd seen in the past. In 2019, Coutee's average depth of target wasn't very high at 7.6, per Pro Football Focus. The year before that -- Coutee's rookie season -- it was just 4.7.
On Sunday, it was 13.4. And 4 of his 9 targets traveled 15 or more yards through the air.
If Coutee's going to be used more down the field, he's got a chance to be a legitimate starter in the fantasy football playoffs. The Texans' schedule isn't ideal, but Coutee's definitely worth rostering.
Oh, and in deeper leagues, give Chad Hansen a look. He saw almost 19% of Houston's targets on Sunday, operating as the number-three pass-catcher in that offense.
Buy the Cleveland Browns Defense
They're coming off a strong performance against Tennessee, and moving forward -- from Weeks 14 through 16 -- they'll face the Ravens, Jets, and Giants. You don't have to start Cleveland against Baltimore, but the defense is a good option for the final two weeks of the fantasy football season since the New York teams are both top-10 matchups for opposing defenses when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed.
Add Ty Johnson
Frank Gore left the Jets' game against the Raiders after just one carry with a concussion, and that opened things up a whole lot for Ty Johnson, who handled about 71% of the team's running back rushes to go along with a 10% target share. He also saw seven of a possible eight running back rushes in the red zone, including four of five at the goal line. After rushing for over 100 yards, Johnson may have bought himself more playing time, even if and when Gore is healthy. He's worth an add as a result.
Sell Cam Newton
It'd be tough to feel good about using Cam Newton in the fantasy football playoffs. He's coming off a top-10 performance in Week 13, sure, but he's also now had back to back games without reaching 100 yards passing. He really got by this past Sunday on a pair of rushing scores. While those are frequent for Cam -- he's got 11 of them this year -- they also make him a highly-volatile play. In games where Newton's not found the end zone on the ground, he's ranked as the QB28, QB36, QB14, and QB31 in weekly scoring. And over the next two weeks, he's got the Rams and Dolphins, two teams that rank in the top half of the league in adjusted points allowed to quarterbacks.
Buy the Detroit Lions Passing Attack
The Lions played their first game without Matt Patricia on Sunday and, unsurprisingly, they looked component offensively. More specifically, the team got back to their 2019 ways when Matthew Stafford was pacing towards his best season as a pro.
Last season -- which was the first one with Darrell Bevell as Detroit's offensive coordinator -- Stafford threw it 15 or more air yards on 26.1% of his throws. That was the highest mark among all relevant quarterbacks. Thus far in 2020, we haven't seen that from Stafford. Heading into Sunday's game, Stafford's deep-ball rate was just 15.2%.
Well, on Sunday, with Bevell as head coach, Stafford chucked it deep on about 31% of his throws. That was a season high.
Maybe this is all just a coincidence. There was a negative script, the Lions liked the matchup, and they went for it. Or, maybe this is the result of a fast culture change, going from a coach who wanted a more conservative approach to one who's had a history of throwing it deep at high frequency.
The fact that we have some reason for this tells me that we can at least buy into the idea a little bit. We can buy into this notion that Detroit may start looking more like the 2019 version as opposed to the 2020 one. And with a decent schedule in the fantasy playoffs as well as the potential for Kenny Golladay to return, I'm buying.
Add Cole Kmet
One of the reasons Cole Kmet was featured as a sleeper on last week's Late-Round Podcast matchups show was because he had quietly taken over the receiving tight end role for the Bears. In Week 12, Kmet ran 33 routes versus Jimmy Graham's 17, per Pro Football Focus. In their game before that, the split was 18 to 15 in Kmet's favor. Then, on Sunday, Kmet had the edge again, running 20 routes to Graham's 15.
The only reason this recommendation is happening is because everyone and their mother needs tight end help. With a season high 21.1% target share on Sunday and favorable matchups ahead for the Chicago passing attack, Kmet is a reasonable add off the wire this week.
Drop Boston Scott
You've been holding onto Boston Scott as a handcuff with a little bit of flex appeal. And that's been fine -- the Eagles called his number earlier this season, and he gave fantasy managers some usable performances when Miles Sanders was sidelined.
You probably don't need to hold on any longer.
Our analysis with handcuffs needs to evolve throughout the season. Tony Pollard, for example, isn't as appealing as a backup because the Cowboys' offense isn't as strong as it was with Dak Prescott under center.
And while I'm more optimistic about the Philly offense with Jalen Hurts under center versus Carson Wentz, I'm also a realist. The Eagles' offensive line is getting very little push, and probably more importantly, the Eagles are starting to use Jordan Howard in the backfield. Howard, who was promoted from the Philadelphia practice squad last week, played 18% of the Eagles' snaps and saw 25% of Philly's running back rushes. Corey Clement wasn't consistently hitting that mark when he was Philadelphia's number-three running back.
So not only is the situation not great, but Scott would more than likely have to battle it out with Howard if something were to happen to Miles Sanders. That's why, in most leagues, you can let him loose.
Add Jalen Hurts
If Jalen Hurts gets the start in Week 14, I'm not sure you'll be able to confidently start him. The Eagles get the Saints, and New Orleans has been playing better defensively over this second half of the season -- they haven't allowed a top-12, QB1 performance since Week 5.
Fortunately, during the following two weeks, Philadelphia will face Arizona and Dallas, two good matchups for a quarterback. So if Hurts shows something against New Orleans (assuming he gets the start), then you may be able to get a solid starter in Weeks 15 and 16. And, remember, he doesn't have to light it up through the air to be relevant in fantasy football. We saw some of his upside at work on Sunday when he ran the ball 5 times for 29 yards in relief for Carson Wentz.
Add Mitchell Trubisky
You may need a streamer for Week 14, and Mitchell Trubisky kind of works. The Bears face the Texans in a game with a mediocre 45.5-point over/under, but Houston's such a nice matchup for opposing quarterbacks, especially now that cornerback Bradley Roby is suspended for the rest of the season. In two games without Roby this year, Houston's allowed Jake Luton and Philip Rivers to combine for 589 yards and 3 touchdowns, and this past Sunday, Rivers was sixth across the league in both expected points per drop back and Success Rate (percentage of drop backs that result in a positive expected points play). It's a good matchup for Trubisky, who's coming off a solid game against Detroit.
Add Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers continues to not get enough love across the fantasy football world. He's averaged over 18 points per game over his last seven outings, and he's ranked worse than QB13 in weekly scoring just once during this time. He's really only had one bad performance since the beginning of October, and it came against a good Baltimore defense.
Now he gets the Raiders this week and the Texans next week. Vegas is a relatively good matchup when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed, and the Texans, as I just noted, have struggled against the position this year, especially without Bradley Roby. Rivers could easily do what he did in Week 13 against them once again.
Add the Carolina Panthers Defense
The Panthers had a bye this past week, and since they're not a must-have defense in fantasy, they're available in 94% of leagues. That definitely makes them a streaming option, as does the fact that they'll face Denver. The Broncos are the second-best opponent -- in a favorable way -- for fantasy defenses this year. Defenses have scored 3.3 more points against the Broncos than their season-long averages.
You'll want to make sure the team is COVID-free enough to play, but as of right now, they make for a decent Week 14 option.
Add the Arizona Cardinals Defense
One defense that may be a little safer than Carolina is Arizona. They're three-point favorites against the Giants this week, and even though New York got a big win against Seattle in Week 13, the Seahawks' defense still posted a pair of sacks with an interception. We don't know if Daniel Jones will be back, but even if he is, the G-Men aren't any worse of a matchup -- across the entire season, they've been the ninth-friendliest opponent when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed.