The Fantasy Footballers’ Rankings Audit & Podcast Highlights for Week 14
Welcome in, #FootClan! It’s playoff time!
We’re hot on the heels of a lopsided Thursday Night Football drubbing, where we saw the New England Patriots fall apart under the primetime spotlight, courtesy of Cam Akers and the Los Angeles Rams defense. By the way, condolences to whoever started Cam Newton or Robert Woods.
With another TNF on the books, we’re eager to move on to an exciting new slate of games in Week 14 of the National Football League!
As a reminder, this article is a weekly installment where I’ll review the Fantasy Footballers’ player rankings and highlight a few specific players per position that deserve extra attention. I’ll also recap important moments from the past week’s Fantasy Footballers’ podcast episodes with links to each episode provided. So be on the lookout every week for this series!
Also, please keep in mind that the Footballers’ rankings are constantly being updated whenever any breaking news is released. So always refer to their rankings page or click on a specific player below to see their latest rankings!
All that said… let’s go!
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs ATL)
|Justin Herbert (as of 12/11/2020)|
What in the world is going on in Los Angeles? Rookie sensation Justin Herbert was in the midst of a record-breaking season, but has recently come crashing back down to earth. After notching at least three total TDs and/or 300+ passing yards per game since his abrupt start in Week 2, he’s suffered his worst performance yet last week against the Patriots, scraping by with just 209 all-purpose yards and ZERO TDs. Strangely enough, his worst games have only been with scintillating RB Austin Ekeler active. In fact, Herbert has had seven QB1 (top-12) performances thus far; six have been without Ekeler.
JUSTIN HERBERT (avg/gm)
w/o Austin Ekeler:
🔹40.5 PaAtt, 26.8 cmp (66%)
🔹294.7 PaYds (7.3 Y/A)
🔹27.0 pts, QB2 rank🔥
🔹42.4 PaAtt, 26.8 cmp (65%)
🔹291 PaYds (7.5 Y/A)
🔹17.3 pts, QB15📉
Ekeler only has 1⃣ TD w/Herbert pic.twitter.com/bRKS8ZICFc
— Peter Chung (@FF_Hypeman) December 11, 2020
While Herbert has maintained his impressive passing numbers, his TDs have been sorely lacking. That’s not to say it’s Ekeler’s fault, though. The inept coaching decisions by Anthony Lynn and co. have surely taken its toll, most evident in their final perplexing drive against the Bills where they essentially gift-wrapped the win to Buffalo. But a matchup against the Falcons’ porous defense is where Herbert can right the ship and solidify his case for the OROY crown. He’s not only one of the ‘Ballers’ top ranked QB this week, but also Jason’s Start of the Week.
Kyler Murray (@ NYG)
|Kyler Murray (as of 12/11/2020)|
Things have been grim in Arizona lately, especially for second-year dynamo Kyler Murray. After a red-hot start where he was a top-12 QB in the first 11 weeks, he’s since failed to reach that lofty echelon in back-to-back weeks. This falls in line with the shoulder injury he sustained on his throwing arm in Week 11 against the Seahawks. He’s maintained his typical number of passing attempts following that fated match, but his average yards per attempt have decreased (7.5 vs 4.7). More importantly, his rushing numbers sharply declined in both yardage (61.9 vs 23) and attempts (9.2 vs 5), attributing to his dwindling fantasy production.
Murray will now have to face off against an underrated Giants’ defense, who just limited QB extraordinaire Russell Wilson to one of his WORST games yet in an upset loss. Can Murray return to fantasy glory at MetLife Stadium? Sure… if his shoulder’s fully recovered and he starts utilizing his legs again. While it’s hard to bench the overall QB1 on the season in redraft leagues, he’s an easy fade in DFS.
Running Back Rankings
Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos (@ CAR)
|Melvin Gordon III (as of 12/11/2020)|
It’s often said that running backs thrive when the weather worsens, e.g., Derrick Henry‘s “Yeti” SZN. Perhaps the same mantra applies for one Melvin “Flash” Gordon? So far this season, he’s been extremely TD reliant for fantasy relevance as his only decent games were ones where he managed to score. But last week against the Chiefs, Gordon went absolutely HAM on his divisional rival as he took his 15 reasonable carries for 131 yards, adding an 11-yard reception. Though he failed to score, this was clearly his best performance yet. Best of all, he did this in a game where he played one of the least amount of snaps this year (53%; average 64%).
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) December 7, 2020
He now faces a rested but vulnerable Panthers D-line in Week 14. Hometown favorite Phillip Lindsay will still share near equal touches with Gordon, but his fledgling production has been lackluster to say the least, although that may be due to a nagging knee injury. Nevertheless, Gordon should see a majority of opportunities, particularly the all-important Red Zone rushes. But Carolina’s defense has shown signs of life, most recently holding studmuffin Dalvin Cook to just 82 scoreless all-purpose yards from 22 whopping opportunities. Gordon’s volatile consistency makes him difficult to trust, specifically during fantasy playoffs. While he’s a decent Flex, temper expectations with the troubled RB.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (vs NO)
|Miles Sanders (as of 12/11/2020)|
There’s a saying that’s often echoed in the Fantasy Football community: “you can’t win your league in the draft, but you can definitely lose it.” This particularly rings true for Miles Sanders managers, who’ve had to hold onto the highly drafted RB despite repeat disappointing performances. That’s not to say he’s at fault, especially when the blame should be shared between Philadelphia’s despondent QB, depleted O-line, or discombobulated coaching staff.
But the times, they are a-changing in the form of rookie QB Jalen Hurts, who will finally command the helm for the Eagles. Hurts presents an exciting surge of energy as a fresh face with rushing abilities. And it’s those mobile qualities that can only help the running game which should benefit Sanders. However, the hard truth is that the O-line remains deficient, meaning Hurts will have to run for his life in order to escape opposing defenders. What’s worse is that he’ll have to make his starting debut against a stout Saints defense, which has been menacing to opposing offenses in ALL skill positions.
But don’t underestimate the impact that a new QB like Hurts could present. IF Hurts doesn’t fall apart, and IF Sanders gets a bellcow workload, then there’s a serious chance that Sanders could finish as the top-12 RB that he was drafted to be. Don’t play Sanders if you have any better options, but have solace in his potential upside and pray he gets 20+ touches.
Wide Receiver Rankings
A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (@ JAX)
|A.J. Brown (as of 12/11/2020)|
Why waste time say lot word when few Tweets do trick?
— Monkey Knife Fight 🐵🔪👊💰 (@mkf) November 22, 2020
AJ BROWN. @Brown1arthur
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2020
The only negative…
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 9, 2020
TL;DR: START HIM.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (@ LAC)
|Julio Jones (as of 12/11/2020)|
If a team’s prolific WR2 loses its elite WR1, then the WR2 should see a large boost in fantasy production as they’re thrust into the lead role… right? Apparently not for Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones, the latter of which was recently declared OUT this week against the Chargers:
In 5 full games Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley played together, Ridley has a 22% target share (34% AY) or 9.0 per game. He's FF WR2 those weeks (Julio is WR5).
In 5 games JJ was out/left hurt, Ridley has a 25% targ share (42% AY) or 9.2/G. He's FF WR19 those weeks.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) December 11, 2020
Yikes. But let’s dive deeper. In the three games Jones was declared inactive (Weeks 3, 5, and 12), Ridley’s only truly terrible game in that span was against Chicago where he faced a tough matchup against CB Kyle Fuller. And he still ended with 14.2 PPR points in that debacle. Otherwise, Ridley saw an average 10.3 targets in those three Jones-less games.
But here’s the rub. The Chargers have bona fide shutdown corners in Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward Jr. With Jones gone, Ridley will surely face difficult coverage that will prevent him from having a top-5 WR performance, although it will likely benefit Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst. Regardless, Ridley’s insane (expected) workload should cement a safe WR2 floor with WR1 upside. Start him with confidence, but don’t expect the insane numbers he started the season with.
Tight End Rankings
Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers (vs WAS)
|Jordan Reed (as of 12/11/2020)|
86 81. #RevengeGame. The narratives are there for veteran TE Jordan Reed… but there’s probably no validity to them. Reed has been wildly inconsistent this year. Though he’s done well last week against Buffalo, he’s coincidentally bounced from great-to-terrible games this year. So if we want to play that narrative game, he should be a bust this week. There’s also Ross Dwelley annoyingly gobbling up targets, as minor as they are.
Narratives aside, he’s averaging nearly five targets per game. Best of all, he’s likely available in most leagues. The smart move is to bench him against a tough defense. The fun move is to start him with confidence. No matter what anyone says, the BEST move — as always — is to go with your gut.
Biggest Takeaways from the Week 14 Podcasts
Monday (Week 13 Studs & Stinkers + Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and MMMBop)
Our beloved Footballers jumpstart this episode by sharing their favorite Monday Punday submissions at 03:20, including my personal favorite, “Inches Sanders.” Next is a fantasy-focused recap of all last week’s games on the Weekly Rewind at 08:10. The ‘Ballers then discuss all their Fantasy Studmuffins at 14:25, before commiserating on the Stinkers of the Week at 40:45.
Tuesday (Week 14 Waivers + Full Stream Ahead, Playoff Prep)
The gang kicks off Tuesday’s show with a Monday Night Football Recap of the shocking upset between the surging Washington Football Team and the formerly undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers at 01:55, as well as the surprisingly high scoring affair between the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers at 08:20. Next up is the News & Notes at 14:05. We then come to the juiciest part of the episode: the Week 14 Waivers at 20:25. We wrap up the episode with their choices for DST Streamers (Washington, Seattle, Kansas City, Carolina) at 47:20 and QB Streamers (Phillip Rivers, Mitchell Trubisky, Taysom Hill or Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford) at 50:25.
Wednesday (SHOW 1,000! Surprises, Show Moments + Week 14 Advice)
Our fearless crew begins this episode with a Tuesday Night Recap of the TuesdayNightFootball.com spectacle between the Cowboys and Ravens at 05:30. Next on the episo…
I just personally want to say congratulations to the entire Footballers crew for hitting an amazing milestone with show 1,000. ONE THOUSAND! There’s a saying by Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” I think it’s clear to the #FootClan and the entire Fantasy Football community that Andy, Mike, and Jason all exude love and happiness towards this game we’re so fond of, and that all their success is well deserved. Shoutout to the production crew as well for crafting this amazing episode. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the episode yet, I IMPLORE you to stop what you’re doing and check it out right now. Trust me, #FootClan, it’s well worth your time.
…anyways, back to the episode recap. Next up is the Buy or Sell segment at 11:35, debating unconfident players like Alvin Kamara, Tyler Lockett, and Marvin Jones Jr. They move onto the News & Notes at 17:50, discussing various injuries for key players, before moving onto a special Footballers edition of the popular “Spitballers” segment, Liar Liar, at 27:25. Our guys then answer some questions in the Mailbag segment at 40:10, followed by the Thursday Night Breakdown between the Patriots and Rams at 01:00:10. We near the end with a Top 5 Countdown of favorite moments in TFFB lore as voted by you, the #FootClan, at 01:05:30. But please make sure you stay tuned until the beautiful conclusion at 01:18:00 for what is now perhaps the best moment in Footballers history.
Thursday (Starts of the Week + Week 14 Breakdown, Mr. Irresponsible)
We hit the ground running with the Taking It Up To 100 segment at 03:00, where the guys plant their flags on DJ Chark Jr., Kareem Hunt, and Robby Anderson, who they’re all placing confidence on this week. That’s followed by the News & Notes at 08:35, then a thorough discussion on the upcoming Week 14 slate in the Fantasy Forecast at 14:30. We then get to the meat & taters of the episode at 56:35 — the ‘Ballers Starts of the Week! And don’t forget the Big Shimmy’s Iron-Clad Locked and Loaded 100% Guaranteed Boom-Boom Kicker of the Week at 01:07:45!
Friday (Week 14 Matchups + It’s Playoff Time, Bette Midler)
The ‘Ballers kickstart this podcast with a lopsided TNF Recap between the Patriots and Rams at 03:45, where we saw rookie RB Cam Akers finally breakout, just in time for fantasy playoffs. We move onto the #FootClan Friday segment at 08:40, followed by the News & Notes at 09:55, including a loving tribute to Chris Herndon SZN:
— Fantasy Footballers (@TheFFBallers) December 11, 2020
Have a great weekend #FootClan and let’s crush all our matchups! If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you check out the awesome Week 14 DFS Podcast by Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg) and Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT). And as always, remember to tune in Sunday for
Mike’s Jason’s live stream where he provides last-minute updates to help you make those crucial roster decisions!
Lastly, congratulations once again to the entire Footballers crew for their EPIC 1,000th episode! What a huge, merited achievement. Here’s to another 1,000… and many, many more!