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.
Hartline now has four straight games with at least five receptions and 57 yards. In fact, over that stretch, his stat line has improved each week. The former Ohio State Buckeye is peaking at just the right time after collecting nine passes for 127 yards and a score last week. Hartline's matchup against Pittsburgh in Week 14 was a tough one on paper just a few weeks ago. Unfortunately for the Steelers, they can't stop the bleeding. Over their last five games, they've allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs, seven WR TDs and five WRs have gone for at least 93 yards. There are injuries all across this defense, although most aren't that serious. Age must be catching up to certain Steelers' defenders. It also helps that Ryan Tannehill is coming off back-to-back games with at least 310 passing yards. Lots of positive signs here for Hartline.