Week 14 of the NFL season is in the books and I have to say, there weren’t as many huge fantasy football takeaways as usual. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot to break down but with so many one-sided contests, there weren’t as many glaring outcomes for fantasy as usual.
Let’s break it all down.
Dallas Cowboys 30, Cincinnati Bengals 7
I didn’t have many expectations for this game for obvious reasons. Two bad defenses and one really bad offense in Cincinnati. The Bengals fumbled the ball three times in this game, including one from Giovani Bernard on his first carry of the game. As a result, he was banished to the bench and didn’t step back onto the field until the second half, resulting in the veteran playing just 17 of the team’s 72 offensive snaps (24%). Samaje Perine carried the ball 10 times with Bernard on the bench, while Trayveon Williams led the backfield with 12 carries of his own. This offense is a mess, and it’s difficult to even feel great about the wide receivers until 2021 when Joe Burrow is back.
The Cowboys didn’t have to do much in this game, but this was the ideal gamescript for Ezekiel Elliott to finally deliver. It didn’t happen, however, as Zeke rushed for 48 yards on just 12 carries and failed to find the end zone. He hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 5, which was Dak Prescott’s last game before suffering his season-ending injury. Meanwhile, Tony Pollard continues to look more explosive, as he’s avoided nine less tackles on 136 fewer carries than Elliott this season. Per Pro Football Focus, Pollard’s 3.63 yards after contact attempt ranks fifth-best in the NFL. He’s currently getting around 8-10 touches per game, though many people wish that number was higher.
Arizona Cardinals 26, New York Giants 7
Kyler Murray has been nursing a shoulder injury over the last few weeks, limiting his rushing production and fantasy upside. In his previous three games, Murray had 15 total rushing attempts and zero rushing scores, while his average depth of target was 23rd in the NFL. However, he looked healthier Sunday, as he rushed 13 times for 47 yards. With the shoulder injury behind him, Murray was more aggressive as a runner, which hurt Kenyan Drake’s targets. In the aforementioned three-game stretch, Drake saw 12 targets, but he only was targeted once Sunday. However, his short-yardage role didn’t change, as he saw two carries from inside the 5-yard line, converting one into a touchdown. Meanwhile, his eight red-zone carries paced all running backs from Week 14. Drake out-touched Chase Edmonds 24-11, though only outsnapped him 44-40.
The Giants offense, on the other hand, was brutal in this game. Daniel Jones returned from his hamstring injury but was clearly limited, as he hesitated to run with the football and was sacked six times. Wayne Gallman played 55% of the snaps and saw another 15 touches but Dion Lewis stole a one-yard touchdown from him with the Giants in hurry-up mode after a long Golden Tate reception.
Tennessee Titans 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Derrick Henry most likely helped you advance into the second round of the playoffs with his 26-carry, 215-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Jaguars. Tennessee is pretty simple to break down, as A.J. Brown also had an awesome game, hauling in seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, becoming the ninth receiver in a row to go for 100 receiving yards against the Jaguars. We did see Jonnu Smith return in this game, but Tennessee is essentially using a tight end by committee, as Smith played 41 snaps, MyCole Pruitt played 34 snaps, Geoff Swaim logged 32 and Anthony Firkser played 16. The volume hasn’t been great for Smith, who has seen two targets in four of his last eight games.
Jacksonville’s offense was mostly bad in this game and with the team trailing for the entire afternoon, James Robinson finished the game with just 12 carries. He also wasn’t as active on third downs, as Dare Ogunbowale logged 31% of the snaps and nearly 40% of the third-down snaps. The Jaguars eventually turned to Gardner Minshew at quarterback in the second half, which could help Robinson’s passing game presence, as he’s averaging 13 more receiving yards, nearly a full reception and 4.5 targets per game alongside Minshew this season. Meanwhile, D.J. Chark’s tough season continues, as he caught just two of nine targets for 16 yards. He ran the second-most routes among all receivers for the week (50) but once again didn’t have much of a chance. Zero of his four deep targets were deemed catchable.
Chicago Bears 36, Houston Texans 7
There were a lot of one-sided affairs in Week 14. and this was certainly one of them. Houston was without both David Johnson and Brandin Cooks for this game and the offense clearly struggled. Duke Johnson got the start at running back but only played 45% of the snaps and handled 10 of the 24 running back touches, as Buddy Howell carried the ball 11 times and logged 35% of the snaps. This game obviously got out of hand and the Texans let Howell split time with Duke in the second half and he ultimately dominated the snaps in the final quarter. Houston has been eliminated from playoff contention, so it is possible David Johnson doesn’t return to his 20-touch role in Week 15. Meanwhile, with Cooks sidelined, Chad Hansen once again saw plenty of opportunities, playing 80% of the snaps and catching all seven of his targets for 56 yards. Over the last two weeks, Hansen is 17th in football in routes run (77), while averaging 2.04 yards per route run.
Somehow, the Bears offense did whatever it wanted to in an NFL game. Shocking concept, I know. David Montgomery exploded for an 80-yard touchdown run early in this contest but surprisingly only had 10 carries the rest of the afternoon. Cordarrelle Patterson carried the ball six times, including one from inside the 5-yard line that probably should have gone to Montgomery. Allen Robinson dominated the passing game, seeing nearly 40% of Chicago’s targets in this game, catching nine balls for 123 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Cole Kmet continues to operate as the top tight end in this offense, as he out-snapped Jimmy Graham 51-29. Graham found the end zone but Kmet saw seven targets for the second consecutive game and over the last three weeks, he’s run 77 pass routes compared to Graham’s 48.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Minnesota Vikings 14
Leonard Fournette was a healthy scratch for Tampa Bay in this game, a notable development for fantasy football, as it ensured that the entire backfield would belong to Ronald Jones. Head coach Bruce Arians stated last week that he wanted to get Jones 20 carries a week and while he didn’t quite reach that mark, Fournette being a healthy scratch indicates that he wants to roll with Jones, who logged 66% of the snaps on Sunday, while carrying the ball 18 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. LeSean McCoy ran as the backup running back, touching the ball five times on 16 snaps but after weeks of uncertainty, this backfield clearly goes through Jones. In four games with Fournette inactive this season, Jones is averaging 19.5 carries, 4.5 targets and 21.2 DraftKings points per game.
It was a very frustrating game for Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, who combined for just seven catches for 78 yards and zero touchdowns. However, I attribute their quiet games to the Tampa Bay pass rush, as they didn’t allow Thielen and Jefferson to fully run their routes before Kirk Cousins was under pressure. In fact, Cousins was under duress on a whopping 46.8% of his dropbacks Sunday, easily his highest mark of the season. As a result, we saw the tight ends and running backs get more looks, as Tyler Conklin and Irv Smith combined for nine targets in Kyle Rudolph’s absence. Smith scored the touchdown, but Conklin ran seven more routes. The Vikings went very run-heavy in the first half, but Smith got more involved in the second half once Minnesota fell behind. Rudolph didn’t practice at all last week and if he can’t suit up in Week 15, Smith would once again make for a fine tight end streamer.
Kansas City Chiefs 33, Miami Dolphins 27
The Dolphins suffered a ton of injuries in this game, as DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki all left at some point. Miami was also without three running backs for this game, resulting in DeAndre Washington getting the start. He played 47% of the snaps and handled 15 of the 20 running back touches. There is a chance that Washington retains lead back duties if Myles Gaskin can’t get cleared next week against a vulnerable Patriots run defense that just allowed Cam Akers to break out for 170 rushing yards.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was active last Sunday night but did not play a single snap due to an illness he was dealing with during the week. However, he practiced in full this week and ended up playing a healthy 74% of the snaps, his highest snap share in a game this season. He also handled 21 of the 25 running back touches, including five receptions for 59 yards on six targets. The final numbers weren’t through the roof but the uptick in usage is very encouraging for CEH down the stretch.
Parker left this game after just 27 snaps, while Grant also left in the first half with his own injury. Neither receiver returned, thrusting both Lynn Bowden and Mack Hollins into much larger roles. Both players were targeted nine times, while Bowden remained the slot receiver for the Dolphins, as he lined up in the slot 77.8% of the time, while seven of his nine targets came from the slot. His 35 pass routes led all Miami pass-catchers, ultimately finishing the game with seven catches for 82 yards. Parker is dealing with a hamstring strain while Grant is week-to-week, putting both players’ status in jeopardy for Week 15.
Gesicki scored two more touchdowns in this game but suffered a nasty-looking arm injury late in the game and did not return. His absence could make Adam Shaheen or Durham Smythe viable cheap DFS options at tight end, as the position has been so involved for Miami this season. Dolphins tight ends have combined for 13 touchdowns this season while the trio of Shaheen, Gesicki and Smythe have combined to account for 46.6% of Miami’s end zone targets and nearly 34% of their red zone targets. And if Parker and his 11 end-zone targets are out, Smythe and Shaheen could both easily score next week.
Denver Broncos 32, Carolina Panthers 27
I wasn’t too interested in this game during the week, so it’s safe to say I did not expect Drew Lock to come out and throw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, especially after Noah Fant exited the game with an illness. Perhaps the most overlooked wide receiver in fantasy football, Tim Patrick once again found the end zone, giving him three scores over his last two games. And if you take away the trainwreck game against the Saints where the Broncos didn’t have a quarterback, Patrick has either scored or reached 60 yards in five straight games. He has established himself as the top red zone option in this offense and a weekly WR3 in fantasy.
Mike Davis received another start with Christian McCaffrey out and he produced, finding the end zone twice on 16 touches. He played 49 of the 67 offensive snaps (73%), as Rodney Smith wasn’t nearly as involved as he had been in previous weeks. We’ll see if McCaffrey can finally return to the field in Week 15.
Indianapolis Colts 44, Las Vegas Raiders 27
Jonathan Taylor appears to be coming on just in time to help many people win a fantasy championship. The rookie enjoyed a career day Sunday afternoon, rushing for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. He logged 56% of the snaps, while Nyheim Hines played 36% of the snaps and Jordan Wilkins only touched the field six times all game long. The game is finally starting to slow down for the rookie out of Wisconsin, as he is finding the holes a lot easier as of late. Over his last three games, Taylor is averaging 18.3 carries, 110.3 rushing yards and one total touchdown per game. He handled 22 of the 33 running back touches against the Raiders. Taylor had over 60 total yards on the opening drive and then watched Nyheim Hines play the entire second drive but at the end of the day, the volume has been there, the Colts are creating massive running lanes and he gets the Texans in your fantasy semifinals.
Don’t look now, but Nelson Agholor is very quietly the WR25 in fantasy since Week 7, scoring four touchdowns and recording two 100-yard games during that span. He delivered again Sunday with 100 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, giving him 20 looks over the last two weeks. He’s been the second option in this passing game behind Darren Waller all year long and is a viable high-upside WR3 in deeper leagues.
Seattle Seahawks 40, New York Jets 3
Really nothing to discuss here. The Seahawks did what they were supposed to do against the worst team in the NFL. Chris Carson only played three more snaps than Carlos Hyde, but two factors played into that. For starters, Carson left the game for a short period of time and then returned. Secondly, Seattle pulled their starters for the entire final quarter. Carson still had 15 touches, rushing 12 times for 76 yards and a touchdown and he’s been really good since returning from injury.
Los Angeles Chargers 20, Atlanta Falcons 17
Austin Ekeler saw another healthy workload for the Chargers in this game, carrying the football 15 times for 79 yards while adding nine catches for an additional 67 yards on nine targets. In the three weeks since Ekeler has returned to the lineup, he leads all running backs with 94 pass routes, while seeing 16, 9 and 9 targets during that span. He gets an awful Raiders run defense Thursday night that is allowing a league-worst 1.6 rushing touchdowns per game.
For the Falcons, Calvin Ridley enjoyed another great game, catching eight of 12 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown. The score came off a trick play where Russell Gage threw him a dime, but it all counts the same. Ridley once again operated as the top wideout with Julio Jones sidelined. In four games with Julio out of the lineup this season, you could say that Ridley has been a more than trustworthy fantasy option.
Philadelphia Eagles 24, New Orleans Saints 21
Things went a lot more smoothly for this Philadelphia offense with Jalen Hurts under center. For starters, Doug Pederson’s play calling was much, much better, as the RPO with Hurts and running back Miles Sanders had the Saints defense on their heels for much of the game. Sanders enjoyed a huge outing against an elite run defense, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Hurts also rushed for over 100 yards on 18 carries, as the duo became the first players to rush for 100 yards against the Saints in nearly 60 games. After playing a season-low 56% of the snaps in Week 13, Sanders logged over 81% of the snaps in Week 14, while also hauling in four-of-five targets. You’d still like to see him get upwards to 20 carries, but Hurts is clearly going to take some of those carries away from him. Jordan Howard didn’t play in this game while Boston Scott and Corey Clement combined for just four touches on 17 snaps.
For the first time since Taysom Hill became the starting quarterback, the Saints fell behind in a game. The result? 10 targets and even receptions for Alvin Kamara, which is exactly what all of us have been waiting for. He also played over 70% of the snaps and handled 18 of the 23 running back touches, as his minor foot injury appears to be totally behind him. We’ll see if Drew Brees is back under center for New Orleans next week but there’s a strong chance the Saints are chasing points again against the Chiefs.
Green Bay Packers 31, Detroit Lions 24
D'Andre Swift returned from a two-week absence and although Adrian Peterson got the start, Swift still led the backfield with 36 snaps, while Peterson and Kerryon Johnson combined to play 30 snaps. He touched the ball 11 times for 50 total yards and a touchdown, but you’d definitely like to see his workload get back to what it was in Week 10 when Swift touched the ball 21 times. Still, 12-15 touches seems to be the floor at the moment, with a strong floor in the passing game.
Washington Football Team 23, San Francisco 49ers 15
Washington was without Antonio Gibson (toe) for this game, so the team turned to J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber. McKissic led the way with 41 snaps to Barber’s 30, though Barber had one more carry (12-11). McKissic was more effective, rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries. The usage in the passing game wasn’t great, as he was targeted just four times, but it’s worth noting that Washington scored two defensive touchdowns in this game, taking plays away from the offense. Meanwhile, quarterback Alex Smith suffered a calf injury in this game and missed the entire second half. The two have developed a nice rapport and it just wasn’t the same once Dwayne Haskins stepped in.
San Francisco, meanwhile, once again used both Raheem Mostert and Jeffery Wilson. It was pretty much an even split, as Mostert played 40 snaps to Wilson’s 39, while the carries were 14-11 in favor of Mostert. However, he had an MRI on his ankle and could miss this week’s game against the Cowboys. If he is ruled out, Wilson becomes a low-end RB2 in an elite matchup. Finally, Brandon Aiyuk had another stellar game on Sunday afternoon. Aiyuk has already been on the rise and should have been viewed as at least the 1B in this passing game. However, Deebo Samuel, who has had trouble staying healthy, left Sunday afternoon’s game after the first snap with a hamstring injury and did not return. As a result, Aiyuk saw a whopping 16 targets, the most by a player in Week 14, hauling in 10 of them for 119 yards. Samuel could be out for at least Week 15’s mouth-watering meeting against the Cowboys, while Aiyuk is hovering around a 30% target share over his last five games.
Buffalo Bills 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 15
The Steelers got James Conner back for this game but still couldn’t get anything going on the ground. They rushed for just 17 yards on 17 total attempts, while Conner played just 23 snaps to Jaylen Samuels’ 27. Conner is reportedly dealing with an injured quad so perhaps Benny Snell would retain his early-down role in this offense but even against the Bengals, expectations need to be tempered with how ineffective the Steelers have been when running the football.
Stefon Diggs dominated the second half of this game and got open at will against a short-handed Steelers secondary. He went off to the tune of 130 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches, becoming the first player in the NFL to reach 100 catches this season.
Baltimore Ravens 47, Cleveland Browns 42
Arguably the game of the year, this AFC North showdown had everything. The Ravens backfield is the main fantasy storyline, however, as J.K. Dobbins led the team with 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. The more encouraging number, however, is 37, as in the number of offensive snaps Dobbins played. Gus Edwards found the end zone twice but only played 16 snaps, while veteran Mark Ingram only played one snap. That is very, very notable, especially when you consider how important this game was for the Ravens. With the Ravens running the football a league-high 53.6% of the time, there are more than enough carries for both Edwards and Dobbins to be used as low-end RB2 options assuming Ingram has been phased out. Especially in Week 15 against the lowly Jaguars defense.