Week 14: Pickups of the Week
(Posted Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. ET and updated as needed)
Now that we're truly in the fantasy season stretch run, matchups become a larger part of the weekly waiver wire calls, long-term upside a little less. With only three weeks remaining in the majority of fantasy football seasons, the future is now. Brilliant statement, I know.
Anyway, slightly different format this week, but the goal remains the same: find those gems. For those still debating what to do, shoot me an email (email@example.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@benstandig)...
1) Carson Palmer - Over the last three weeks Palmer has gone from disaster to decadent thanks to seven TDP with two interceptions while averaging 345 passing yards. The Cards QB has thrown at least two touchdown passes in five straight games. If Palmer is available - he is in less than 30 percent of MFL leagues - grab him, start him. Top 10 option this week even against a Rams defense that ranks 10th against fantasy QBs this season.
2) Josh McCown/Jay Cutler - As of Tuesday morning it remains unclear whether the Bears Cutler will be medically cleared. This makes it trickier just to say McCown is a must-have option after consecutive games with 350 passing yards and two scores. Facing a Dallas defense that allows the second most points to the QB position, McCown would actually top this list if named the starter.
3) Alex Smith - Kansas City faces a Redskins defense that allows the fourth most points to fantasy quarterbacks, but just four TDP over their last three games and no 300-yard passers since Week 9. Smith owners should note this improvement, but then largely ignore it. Sure, the Chiefs have lost three straight, but the Redskins are imploding. We know Smith isn't a volume passer, but between his rushing yards and the Redskins secondary woes, he's a borderline QB1 this week.
4) Joe Flacco - Baltimore hosts Minnesota, owners of the worst fantasy pass defense. That's good enough to boost Flacco from the low-end QB2 he's been all season to a potential starter in deep leagues. The Super Bowl MVP hasn't thrown more than one TDP in three weeks and has just one 20-point fantasy game over his last six contests. The presence of Torrey Smith combined with the Vikings leaky secondary provides owners reason to think this week will be different.
5) Ryan Fitzpatrick - This is a volume passing play. The Titans face Denver. The Broncos will score lots, meaning Fitzpatrick will have to throw lots to keep up.
Others: Ryan Tannehill, Matt McGloin, Mike Glennon
1) Montee Ball - Tricky starting the No. 2 RB, but clearly the Broncos are cool with running lots of the matchup suggests that proper attack mode. Seeing as the Titans allows the 3rd most points to fantasy runners this season, Ball and Knowshon Moreno should receive lots of work. With his TD potential, Ball is a Flex candidate and a risk-reward RB2 in deeper leagues.
2) Bilal Powell - Chris Ivory toughed it out last week and averaged over five yards per carry, but Powell still had 59 yards and three receptions. The Jets will want to keep the ball out of Geno Smith's as often as possible so expect at least 10-12 touches.
3) LeGarrette Blount - Against the Texans, Blount took the larger workload from the pure RB spot with Stevan Ridley inactive rushing 12 times for 44 yards and touchdown. Will that happen again? Come on, who knows what the Pats will do from week-to-week. Besides, the Browns haven't allowed a rushing score in five straight games. Still, if Ridley sits again, Blount's stock rises playing in the pats high-scoring offense.
4) Roy Helu - The Redskins got away from Alfred Morris last week despite a tight game versus the Giants. If the Chiefs take advantage of Washington's brutal defense, this Week 14 matchup won't be a one-score game. That would mean more Helu in passing down situations. Even if the game hangs in the balance late, Kansas City has allowed over 100 rushing yards in each of its last four games with six scores in that span. Owners in need and in PPR leagues can ponder Helu
5) Jonathan Dwyer - Le'Veon Bell's concussion situation could make the Steelers starter a game-time decision, though early reports sounds hopeful. The bummer is the Week 14 matchup vs. Miami is a sweet one; the Dolphins have struggled all season against the run, allowing the 6th most production to backs. Dwyer is nothing special and could share snaps with Felix Jones if Bell sits, but he's the best bet for touchdowns. Don't go crazy with free agent bidding, but he's at least worth rostering for those with Bell or debating options.
Others: Bernard Pierce, Stepfan Taylor, Mike Tolbert, Shonn Greene, Jordan Todman, Michael Bush
1) Michael Crabtree - The stats (two receptions for 68 yards) weren't terribly dazzling, but there is another number worth getting excited about. Crabtree played in 63 percent of the 49ers snaps in his season debut. The real intrigue is future matchups against the Bucs (Week 15) and Falcons (Week 16), but that level of playing time makes him a WR3 option this week against Seattle.
2) Julian Edelman - Two straight weeks with nine receptions and over 100 yards for Edelman, who is now the Patriots main receiver slot threat over Danny Amendola. Curious to see how the Browns deploy all-everything corner Joe Haden, but expect the Pats to throw elsewhere. Edelman will be part of the elsewhere. WR3 option this week and going forward, especially in PPR formats.
3) Nate Burleson - Cool if we just pretend last week didn't happen? Cool, thanks. Burleson and company next face an Eagles defense that ranks dead last against fantasy receivers. Before last week's donut, he had at least six receptions in his four games played this season. Detroit has lots if targets these days, but Burleson remains high in the pecking order.
4) Doug Baldwin - News that the Seahawks could shut down Percy Harvin until the playoffs bumps Baldwin into potential WR3 range. Four receptions for 77 yards and a TD against the Saints helps that call as well. Don't expect tons of passing production for Seattle in Week 14 at San Francisco, but Baldwin has scores in two straight games and three of four overall.
5) Nate Washington - No doubt Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin are sexier calls, but Washington has the better matchup this week against the Denver. The Titans veteran hasn't scored since Week 4, but had 81 yards in Week 13 and has posted five receptions in consecutive games. WR3 potential.
Others: Rod Streater, Cordarrelle Patterson, Tavon Austin, Tiquan Underwood, Andre Holmes, Kenny Stills
1) Ladarius Green - The promising TE has officially gone from Dynasty option to current threat after three straight games with at least a touchdown or 80 receiving yards. Green only had two receptions for 45 yards (and a score) in Week 13, but he played 61 of 67 snaps compared to 62 for Antonio Gates. Expect lots of work for both against a Giants defense that has allowed three touchdowns to TEs over the last two weeks and ranks 23 against the position this season.
2) Jared Cook - Let's make this simple: St. Louis plays the Cardinals, who have allowed a touchdown to tight ends in four straight games including three last week to the combo of Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Cook hasn't lived up to his preseason or post-Week 1 promise, no doubt. However, he's been serviceable lately, averaging 3.5 receptions and 65 yards over the last two games. Could we have another late season revival? Considering the general weakness outside the top 8-10 tight ends, Cook is a potential TE1 this week.
3) Garrett Graham - Houston versus Jacksonville. We saw this matchup two weeks ago. Seeing as the Jags struggle covering the TE, It appeared juicy for Graham, especially coming immediately after he went for 7-136-1 in Week 11, seeing as Jacksonville struggles covering the tight end. Ultimately, he was just eh with 32 yards on five receptions and then had another blah game in Week 13. Still, Jacksonville ranks 31st against the position, meaning another juicy matchup ahead for the high-end TE2.
4) Anthony Fasano - Scores in three straight weeks is a trend we can get behind. Now Fasano faces a Redskins defense that has allowed a TE touchdown in back-to-back games and five of seven weeks. Not lots of yards (86 in the three games), but he's caught at least three passes per game. Not massive upside, but we like that trend.
Others: Mychal Rivera, John Carlson, Brandon Myers, Zach Ertz, Dallas Clark
1) Patriots - Who is starting for the Browns at QB?
2) Raiders - Geno Smith is starting at QB for the Jets