Merry playoffs, and welcome to the Week 14 edition of the Model 284 Friday Fantasy Preview. If you are looking for a blend of numbers and subjectivity to help guide your lineup, then this is the right place for you.
Week 14 Studs:
Josh McCown: Yes really. I know you want to tell me all about how “Josh McCown is a pretender, and nobody goes to Denver and lights them up,” but listen… Josh McCown is LEGIT as a fantasy QB. He is 7th in scoring at QB and is averaging over 21 points a game since Week 6. Oh, and as for Denver, if you still think they are the far and away best defense in football, you haven’t watched a Broncos game or looked at a single stat of theirs in months. The Broncos are very average these days against the pass. Since Week 8 they’re allowing 229 passing yards and 2.5 TDs per game. In fact, on the season, they are the QB fantasy matchup equivalent of the Detroit Lions. McCown is owned in only 45% of ESPN fantasy leagues, which is way too low, especially in a playoff week. He is a top 10 start this week.
Andre Ellington: Okay, before I start here, this pick is strictly DFS. This might seem crazy, but Ellington could be a big sleeper this week. Ellington had 26 catches for the Cardinals in the 4 games after the David Johnson injury. After having a quiet season for quite a while after that, he caught 5 passes for 56 yards in his Texans debut last week. That brings us to this week, where the Texans play the 49ers. The ‘9ers are allowing the second most receiving yards, yards per catch, and TD catches to RBs (55.5, 9.79, and 0.33, respectively). Given San Fran’s defensive struggles, they’ll have their hands full with DeAndre Hopkins, and (returning from injury) Will Fuller. This is a little bit of a long shot, but Ellington ($3,600 on Draft Kings) has by far the highest ceiling of any running back of similar value this week.
Josh Gordon: Since the rest of this week’s studs are pretty statistics-heavy, I have no problem admitting that I’m backing Josh Gordon because he is the Cinderella story the NFL needs. With the injury to DeShaun Watson, the return to earth of Kareem Hunt, and the suddenly human Carson Wentz, Josh Gordon is the next guy we love to root for. If you’re a fan of exciting football, you’re a fan of Josh Gordon. Welcome back, big guy.
Week 14 Duds:
Kirk Cousins: Kirk Cousins has done everything the Redskins could want this year and more. They are going to be kicking themselves for years when he leaves this offseason. With one of the most disappointing receiving cores in the NFL, offensive line injuries, losing a pro-bowl tight end, and the running back leading the team in receiving, nobody should be performing as admirably as Cousins is. Sadly, this week is the week it finally comes crashing down. A road game against the Chargers top end pass rush will be the final straw in his attempt to hold the team together. He is a bad start here in a playoff week. Explore other options (try checking the Week 14 studs list).
Christian McCaffrey/Jonathan Stewart: I could just write, “Don’t start running backs against Minnesota!” and just leave it there, but just in case one of you is still thinking about starting one of these guys this week, I’ll spell it out. The Vikings are allowing the 2nd least rushing yards, and have given up the 4th least rushing TDs in the NFL. That’s enough to keep you away from Jonathan Stewart’s 6.8 fantasy points per game already. McCaffrey’s value lies in his pass catching. Unfortunately for him the Vikings are allowing the 6th least receiving yards to running backs, and have only allowed them to catch 1 TD this year. If you couldn’t guess from all that, the Vikes are allowing the least fantasy points to RBs this year, so I repeat… Don’t start RBs against Minnesota!
Sammy Watkins: Since I let my gut make the call on a receiver for the studs list, I’ll do the same here. Sammy Watkins is a player that everyone seems to have a strong love or hate opinion on this week. Over the last 5 games, he has scored 4 TDs despite facing some high-end cornerbacks such as Xavier Rhodes, Marshon Lattimore, and Patrick Peterson (though they didn’t shadow him on every play). I think the only thing Watkins has proven on this run is that he is exactly what we thought he was: extremely talented and extremely inconsistent. My heart says to stay away this week.