Dwight Howard

Fantasy Football Week 14: Tears, Tirades, and Triumph

For many of us, Week 14 is when even the team managers who coasted to playoff positions suddenly find themselves in a one-and-done scenario.

The pressure can be intense as we juggle lineups and grasp for every minor detail of locker room whispers and injury updates.

Common sense dictates that exactly half the playoff managers won their week 14 showdown.

Twitter tells us otherwise.

As a fantasy football writer and player, I have been known to share some #FantasyFootball sentiments on social media.

It drives my wife crazy, which is the second reason I follow a phalanx of fellow fantasy football fanatics. Finding links to some valuable data is the first.

But the majority of fantasy football twitter folks are simply players with opinions and a smartphone. Naturally, there are a lot of tweets this week regarding how their fantasy football teams did in Week 14.

By my estimation, about 98-percent of team owners lost, most of them due to some unfair twist of fate or the wrath of the fantasy football gods.

“Player A averaged 500 fantasy points per game all season but gave me 5 this week! My playoffs are over”

To which someone will reply, “Should have been ready for the overdue point regression,” like someone can actually predict these things.

“Player B totally vultured my player’s touchdown!” Because, you know, out of the 10-12 skill position players on that team’s offense, only the one on your fantasy roster is ever supposed to score.

“Needed 4.3 points from Player D to move on. Only got 4.2. I am going to quit FF!” Or even better, “Needed 54 points and the victory formation kneel-down cost me the last 0.1 so I lost!”

Occasionally, someone will demand a screenshot of the player’s roster because their story is just so unbelievabl heartbreaking.

Others will point out how the owner should not have put himself in the position to need so many points, or how the commenter took that same player out of their lineup on a hunch.

But they lost anyway because they almost always do.

One thing I see precious little of is sympathy for the losers. Everyone reads the sad tale and becomes an instant analyst.

“Probably should have stacked him with Player E to put you over the top.”

“That result was predictable with the weather and alignment of Venus with Mars this week.”

Of course, the majority of folks opining on Twitter want to be analysts. They dream of running a podcast and commanding a YouTube channel that gets cited on ESPN.

That sounds pretty cool to me, too. But let’s face it- unless you have a patient mom or spouse, space in the basement, and reliable Wi-Fi, it’s not a high-percentage path for long-term success.

One reason I know some people will never be successful analysts is that they are so demanding of those who are billed as such.

Successful analysts have about as much a chance of being right about fantasy football predictions as they do of being wrong.

They spend most of the year analyzing data, statistical trends, player backgrounds, coaching tendencies, injury histories, and more.

Many of them can rattle off names of the top 100 prospects coming out of college for the draft. That is pretty dedicated.

It all makes for some great conversations and true insight about players and teams.

Despite all of that time, dedication, and knowledge, it is a rare analyst who will call himself an expert.

That is because they all realize that once the real-life ball is kicked off, we are at the mercy of human beings who have little interest in our fantasy football teams.

There are coaches who might decide to randomly use a third-string rusher for the majority of a game even though Matt Breida is back from injury and Tevin Coleman appears healthy.

There are folks who think that even though every fan of real football and fantasy knows his best option is to run Saquon Barkley, maybe he should try a pass to a blocking tight end sneaking off the line.

Video review is an exercise in breath-holding for many fantasy fans. Will the officials call it a touchdown? An interception? A catch? How many points will that decision cost me?

Then there are injuries. Over two dozen fantasy-relevant players left games early in Week 14. Many fantasy playoff seasons ended as important players hobbled to the locker room.

But none of that will stop Twitter rants from folks suggesting “so-called-expert” analysts enjoy unnatural sexual activities or were born of the devil.

My favorite tweet this week blasted a popular columnist for “taking food off the table of millions” with his erroneous choices.

Don’t be that guy. Dedicated analysts- and even less-dedicated analysts- put in the research primarily to start conversations.

We make suggestions, sometimes more emphatically than other times, but suggestions. These are based on hunches. These hunches are based on experience and research, but they are not foolproof.

Thanks to the human beings playing, coaching, and officiating the real games, that’s the best we can do.

Oh… and to OppsPat- yes, I do have a mother. She is very sweet, and she is as sorry as I am you started Benny Snell over Devin Singletary last week. When is your next year’s draft?

Week 14 winners and dream-crushers

If you’ve been living and dying with Drew Brees at quarterback, you know how up and down that ride has been. Since New Orleans’ Week 9 bye, Brees provided a pair of top ten fantasy quarterback weeks and a pair of bottom-20 finishes, too.

Going against one of the best defenses in Week 14, Brees was a consensus second-tier passer. Naturally, he rose to the occasion and took the top overall points title with 40.06 fantasy points on 350 total yards and 6 touchdowns.

Similarly, Emmanuel Sanders’ best week since Week 9 was his 8.1-point WR-56 showing in Week 13. Apparently, he was trending upward. He caught and threw a touchdown on his way to the WR-1 finish with 34.10 points.

Jameis Winston (34.74) was a popular playoff streamer. He overcame three interceptions to rack up the QB-2 score. Mitchell Trubisky was definitely not a popular streamer. Maybe there will be more interest in Week 15 after he came up with 32.06 points against Dallas Thursday.

Eight other passers tallied 20 or more points, including Ryan Tannehill (27.54). Three popular streaming quarterbacks did not. Sam Darnold (17.10), Ryan Fitzpatrick (14.30), and Kirk Cousins (13.58) each fell short of expectations.

Eleven wide receivers topped 20 points. They include a much-discussed AJ Brown (33.60) and Michael Thomas (30.40) who rounded out the top three wideouts.

Some popular waiver adds who came through include Robbie Anderson (25.00) and Zach Pascal (20.40) who waited as long as he could to let his fantasy managers breathe easy.

Diontae Johnson (25.6) and Marcus Johnson (19.80) might see more waiver interest this week after posting surprising numbers.

Austin Ekeler (31.30) has been one of the top running backs all season, practically unaffected by the return of Melvin Gordon. Ekeler was the RB-1 behind 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards and a score.

Don’t feel bad for Gordon. He squeezed into the top ten as well with 19.40 points.

Aaron Jones topped 30 points on his way to the RB-2 spot. Joe Mixon won the third position, but it was Raheem Mostert’s 24.90 points, mostly at the expense of Tarik Cohen, that will make him the top waiver wish this week.

Oakland’s DeAndre Washington (21.60) filled in for Josh Jacobs with a Josh-Jacobs-like performance. Devonta Freeman (19.40) returned to the top ten for the first time in a while.

Noah Fant (21.30) and Jared Cook (20.40) put up the top tight end totals before each left their game injured. Fant had x-rays taken of his foot (negative) and Cook is in the concussion protocol.

Kickers are fantasy football players, too. One week after he caught a touchdown pass on a trick play, Jason Sanders (23.00) nailed 7 out of 8 field-goal tries.

Not all good news…

Pittsburgh’s Benny Snell got the 17 carries we hoped for but he didn’t do much with them. His 4.1 points hurt a lot of rosters.

Alvin Kamara’s disappointing season hit a new low. His RB-49 effort was magnified when he was stuffed on the 1-yard line only to see Drew Brees sneak the ball in on the next snap.

Anyone hoping Odell Beckham would come through against the Bengals’ defense was disappointed in his WR-60 finish.

Russell Wilson’s 10.60 fantasy points probably didn’t propel many folks to the next round, either.

And… the injuries.

Josh Jacobs was a late scratch before Sunday’s game. We learned during the week he has been playing with a fracture in his shoulder. He will get an MRI this week.

With Oakland’s playoff hopes fading, the team should err on the side of caution with their star. Deandre Washington appears to be the best choice as a fill-in.

Derrius Guice has been ruled out for Week 15 with a knee sprain. Adrian Peterson will be the primary runner, but he’ll need a touchdown against Philadelphia to make a big difference.

Chris Thompson caught 7 of 8 targets in Week 13 and could see a bigger role as well. He could help a PPR team.

Rashaad Penny is done for the season with an ACL tear. It is more likely Chris Carson picks up the slack than CJ Prosise or anyone else on the Seahawks’ roster.

Bilal Powell left Sunday’s game early with good yardage, but no score. With Le’Veon Bell expected back Thursday night, Powell is unlikely to help anyone in their fantasy playoff.

Bo Scarbrough is questionable this week with a rib injury.

Mike Evans is out for next week and possibly longer. His hamstring injury is a pull, not a tear, but the team is treating it conservatively. Evans was decent enough to catch a 61-yard touchdown pass before leaving the Week 13 game.

Devante Parker owners could only dream of the 13.1 points that catch gave Evans’ managers. Parker was knocked out of the game against the Jets with a concussion and only 4.1 PPR points.

Albert Wilson also incurred a concussion in that game, which didn’t help Ryan Fitzpatrick’s day.

Calvin Ridley’s season is over after he endured a stomach injury. Rookie Olamide Zaccheaus caught his first career pass and turned it into a 93-yard touchdown. He would appear to be the deep threat in Ridley’s absence, but don’t forget Russell Gage came through when Julio Jones was out earlier this year.

DJ Chark left the locker room in a walking boot and riding a scooter. His ankle injury looks like it might knock him out of Week 15 at least. Given the state of the Jaguars’ team, I would look at other rosters for a replacement.

Auden Tate left the Bengals game with a knee injury. K’Neal Harry was knocked out with a hip injury for New England.

On a brighter note, JuJu Smith-Schuster expects to return to play Sunday.

We mentioned Jared Cook (concussion) and Noah Fant (foot). Both are questionable next week. Ryan Griffin (ankle) and Mark Andrews (knee) are listed as questionable.

Vance MacDonald suffered a concussion before he could score the obligatory tight end touchdown against Arizona.

Fant says he’ll be fine for next week. But if you need a replacement for anyone else, Ian Thomas saw 10 targets in place of the injured Greg Olsen.

Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers say he will play through a small fracture in his right thumb. Winston missed only a series before completing the game last weekend. He will probably miss some practice time to control any swelling or pain.

Pat Mahomes’ bruised hand has no fractures according to the team. Mahomes admits it affected him in Week 13. He expects that with additional care during the week, he’ll be a full go against Denver this week.

Tom Brady showed up at his press conference with a bulky bag of ice around his elbow. He says he banged it on a helmet during the game, but he does not suspect it is a serious problem.

Likewise, Lamar Jackson wound up on the Ravens’ Monday injury report with a “quad issue”. They don’t expect him to miss Thursday’s game.

Waivering ideas

Ryan Fitzpatrick was touted as a playoff-winning streamer option before his stinker in Week 14. He could be without Parker and Wilson again, but he faces the Giants’ extremely generous pass defense.

For true Dolphins believers, Allen Hurns (8 targets) or Isaiah Ford (9) are the next men up. Patrick Laird already finished in the RB-2 range in the two weeks since Kenneth Ballage was injured. With some additional pass targets, he’ll be a solid PPR play, at least.

Ryan Tannehill just can’t make people believe in him. He is still available in almost half the leagues across all platforms.

I’m streaming the Detroit and Tampa Bay defenses against each other and Kansas City against Denver.

That’s about that

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spread some love on Twitter. I think I’ll share how my playoff teams all bounced back and won exciting finishes. Then, I’ll share how all the wonderful fantasy football pundits and podcasters helped me with their recommendations.

Because we all need to get some positive vibes once in a while.

Speaking of which, we’re thinking positive thoughts about your fantasy playoff teams. May your dreams pay off!

Pat Opperman NFL Fantasy Analyst, click here for more.

Archive @ Pat Opperman


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