What We Learned in Week 13 (Fantasy Football)
In the words of Jim Mora…… “PLAYOFFS?!”
It’s the best time of the year, and definitely the most stressful. Best of luck to all of the #FootClan in your journey to the title game. I hope I can speak for most people in the fantasy industry when I say that helping readers win leagues is the most fun part of this gig, and it’s always VERY appreciated to know when we’ve helped someone out. If your season happens to end this week, go join a dynasty league and keep the fun going year-round.
Let’s get to recap of Week 13:
Some Games Live Up to The Hype
The Niners/Ravens game received more hype than any game has this entire season, for good reason. This was one of the only games in recent memory that I considered watching instead of the RedZone channel. Obviously, I just brought out a second TV to solve the dilemma the first-world way, but the sentiment was there. The Niners opened up as six-point road dogs and found a way to cover that spread in impressive fashion, even though they came up short. The reason I loved this game so much was because it was a fairly clean football game between two elite teams, even though the conditions were rough. The Niners didn’t necessarily slow down Lamar Jackson, but the athletes they had on the defensive line allowed them to contain the Ravens attack for long enough to keep the game close. If this turns out to be a Super Bowl preview, we’re all in for a great one.
We Owe DeVante Parker an Apology
The athletically gifted WR1 in Miami has been the butt of a lot of jokes over the last few seasons because his production never seemed to catch up to his potential. This season he’s delivered an emphatic “YOU LIKE THAT?” to all of us fantasy owners who finally decided to give up on him at the wrong time. This past Sunday he exploded for over 150 yards and two beautiful touchdown catches. Pending MNF, he should finish the week as the WR1. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the perfect quarterback for a player like Parker, and he’s quietly been one of the best waiver wire adds of the year. The Dolphins have a dynamite playoff schedule and you should feel confident with Parker in the flex spot for the rest of the year.
Davante Adams Isn’t Dead
FINALLY! The consensus top ten fantasy pick delivered a big game at the perfect time. Adams has been injured for most of the season and when he has been healthy he’s been the victim of some bizarre game scripts and Aaron Jones vultures. This past Sunday he delivered during a crucial fantasy week by catching two of Aaron Rodgers‘ 4 touchdown passes. You’re never going to bench Adams, but this was a solid early Christmas gift for any fantasy owners who needed a win to get into the playoffs.
Jacksonville Has a Quarterback Controversy
Full transparency: I’m a HUGE Gardner Minshew fan. He’s a solid NFL quarterback and a blast to watch from a football standpoint. On top of that, his swag during Minshew Mania was completely unmatched. The Jaguars put a significant investment into Nick Foles in the offseason so it was the expectation that he’d return to the top of the depth chart when he got back. In the past three weeks, Foles has been horrific at best, and Minshew had a chance to come into the game this past weekend and ignite a fire…. and ignite one he did. The Jags instantly looked rejuvenated and played at a faster pace with Minshew in the game, and it showed in the box score. I don’t expect them to go back to Minshew outright, but there’s a lot of signs that point to the team being fond of the stache behind center. This is looking like a lost season for Jacksonville, so Foles could easily right the ship in the offseason too.
Some Players Flop, Some Just Get Injured
There’s a huge difference between a fantasy bust, and someone who gets hurt. Let me give you a couple examples here:
O.J. Howard is a bust. Evan Engram is not.
OBJ is a bust. JuJu is not (due to the Big Ben injury).
And my final example….. Derrius Guice is not a bust. He’s an extremely talented running back that has had some seriously bad luck in the injury department. This past Sunday he had a chance to dominate a game the same way he did in college, and it was a beautiful thing. There are very few players in the league that are truly injury-prone; most of them just have a string of rough setbacks that are closer together than those suffered by other players. Jordan Reed is an example of someone who truly seems to have an issue staying on an NFL field, but someone like Keenan Allen never deserved his injury-prone label. If Guice can stay healthy for a decent stretch here, expect him to shoot up into the top ten of dynasty rankings at the running back position. All it takes is a few healthy seasons to return value on running back investments. Don’t believe me? Ask Leonard Fournette owners.
Tevin Coleman May Have Lost His Job
Coleman has not been impressive this year outside of his huge game back in week eight. Even with Matt Breida sidelined, Coleman hasn’t been able to build the momentum you want from a starting running back on a top NFL offense. It appears as if Kyle Shanahan is at the end of his rope with Coleman too. Raheem Mostert made the most of his opportunity against the Ravens and he was clearly the better back from the first whistle to the last. The Niners don’t have enough cap invested in Coleman to stay committed to him regardless of performance, so it’s very possible we just saw him lose his 1A job. If Matt Breida comes back next week, it’s anyone’s guess how they will split the workload in week 14, so I’m avoiding Coleman in my playoff matchups if I have another option available.
Predicting RB Volume is Getting Tougher by The Week
This season has been a bit of a mess in terms of predictability, and things are getting uglier and uglier every week. If you didn’t draft Dalvin Cook, CMC, Nick Chubb, or Ezekiel Elliott… every week is a roller coaster. It truly feels like the RB2 tier is about 20 different backs, and week to week they completely disappear or pop off in terrible matchups. Just last week Jonathan Williams eclipsed 25 touches for the Colts and produced well with them, just to turn around be out-snapped by Jordan Wilkins this week. This season has been brutal for running back usage, but it’s a good thing for the NFL in the long term. The Saints wrote the book on how to keep an elite running back healthy for a longer period of time, and it seems like lots of teams are following the mold. Unless you have a true workhorse back, it makes more sense to run a committee in the modern NFL. It’s terrible for our fantasy teams, but it’s a good thing for the health of the guys in the league. It should help curb the holdout trends, and hopefully, give way to a new wave of fantasy strategy down the road.
Ronald Jones Belongs on Your Bench
I’m done. I just can’t do the Tampa Bay backfield experiment anymore. Bruce Arians came out and told us that Ronald Jones deserved more touches, yet he’s actually throttled them back since those comments. Jones isn’t seeing any goal-line work, and the thing that made him valuable in the first place (catching passes) isn’t as relevant anymore. Keep Jones on your bench for the fantasy playoffs, it’s just not worth it.
The NFL is More Top Heavy Than Ever
Patriots, Ravens, Niners, Chiefs, Saints.
There’s your list. We all know where this season is heading, but it’s shockingly top-heavy from more than just a playoff run standpoint. The talent and schematic gap between Baltimore and the Rams was astounding last Monday night, and it was clear from the Ravens and Niners game that they’re the top tier of the NFL elite. Teams that refuse to adapt to the new age NFL aren’t going to survive in the long term, so if you root for a franchise outside of these five you better hope they adjust quickly. The Packers and Seahawks are still strong NFL franchises that will threaten the top-tier as long as their all-world quarterbacks stick around, but they’re still a ways behind the teams listed above. Advancements in analytics, probability, and offensive creativity have changed the league forever, it’s just a matter of who makes adjustments before it’s too late.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Saves Football Teams (and Not Just Real Ones).
Fitzmagic is alive and well, we’re just used to it now. Not only can the bearded wonder deliver wins for your favorite football team, he can also provide a huge boost to your fantasy playoff run if you have an issue at quarterback. They have the Jets, Giants, and Bengals on deck here soon which means that Fitz should be a projected QB1 during every week of the fantasy playoffs. A lot of fantasy owners still worry about his tendencies to turn the ball over but he’s been much better during his time in Miami. Fitz can save your fantasy team, so don’t be afraid to put him in your lineup during these crucial weeks.
“The Ravens opened up as six-point underdogs on the road and found a way to cover that spread in impressive fashion”
That should be the 49ers.