Week 14: Sleepers
Remember this guy? It's probably those years of turnover-prone mediocrity which have forced you to forget, but Cutler was playing really well before he went down with a high-ankle sprain. It's not for sure that Cutler will play, so before you rush out and grab him off the waiver wire, understand his status is unclear for Week 14. Let's just assume for argument's sake that Cutler will play. The former Vanderbilt QB gets to face off against Dallas and their dead-last fantasy defense against QBs. No team in the NFL is allowing more fantasy points to QBs than Dallas. The blossoming of Alshon Jeffery into one of the league's premiere receivers certainly helps Cutler's cause. One thing should be clear though: both Josh McCown and Cutler have succeeded this season. The Bears have a Top 10 passing offense regardless of who is at the helm. If it's Cutler this week, go after him if he's available.
Flacco is having the type of season everybody should've expected, including whoever drafted that huge offseason contract for him. They say hindsight is 20/20, but is anybody really shocked by the numbers? In any case, let's try to forget for a moment how middling this season has been for the former Delaware QB. Instead, let's focus on the matchup and the circumstances. Baltimore hosts the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14 and they're just awful against the pass. They've allowed the most passing TDs and the fourth-most passing yards. Only two QBs have failed to put up at least 20 fantasy points against the Vikes: Eli Manning back when the Giants were at their worst and Matt Flynn's recent performance with the Packers. If you're going to stray away from a QB1, at least go for the QB2 with the one of the most favorable matchups.
Plugging in McGahee this late in the season obviously takes some combination of guts and stupidity. The 32-year-old has chugged along all year, walking the tightrope separating washed-up and mailing it in for a paycheck. High praise, right? Such is the nature of playing legit sleepers. Cleveland will travel to New England next week and the Pats are really having issues against the run. In their last two games, they've allowed 395 rushing yards and four RB TDs. New England has been a step below average for most of the year, but something pushed them over the edge recently. If McGahee posts more than 50 total yards and a score, fantasy owners should consider that a victory, even though it's a small victory.
Without Andre Ellington active in Week 13, Mendenhall enjoyed a season-best performance. The former Steelers back rushed 18 times for 76 yards, although he failed to find the end zone -- for just the second time in his last five games. Assuming Ellington is inactive in Week 14, Mendenhall has another excellent opportunity to accumulate solid rushing totals against St. Louis. The Rams have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs.That kind of matchup would make Mendenhall an excellent flex play. His benchmark this season is rather low and the high-upside potential is extremely limited; however, the six-year vet is peaking at the right time and is worth a hard look and long consideration for this Sunday.
Going up against Darrelle Revis is enough for most fantasy owners to dismiss even the best receiver. This isn't the Revis many are expecting though. Over his last two games, the former Pittsburgh Panthers star has struggled, as have his seconary teammtates. Tampa has allowed five WR TDs since Week 11 (sixth-most) and nine since Week 9. Even Carolina's Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell found some openings last week. This write-up shouldn't be all about Revis anyway. Johnson returned to action last week, catching five passes for 55 yards. Over his last five games, he has 48 targets. That's an elite total, but E.J. Manuel's inaccuracy and the Bills' instability at QB earlier in the year really hurts Johnson's upside. This feels like a great opportunity for Johnson to take advantage of a Bucs secondary that can't seem to get it together as of late.