Week 14 Risers and Fallers
December 18, 2015 | Chet
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Two weeks away from fantasy gold; trophies, bragging rights, that overall enjoyment you get when you crush your friends and families’ dreams, and hey, hopefully a little bit of cash in your pocket. Let’s get another look at whose recent play should be affecting your final scores, for better or for worse. I’ll try and give you a little tidbit on what you should do with all this information, but if you’d like some other questions answered please drop some words in the comments below or hit me up on twitter!
The ownership percentages are a median between Yahoo! and ESPN own%.
Sammy Watkins (93.8%) might have taken a while to mesh with QB Tyrod Taylor, but now that he has, his value has skyrocketed. Since the bye week the sophomore receiver is averaging 94.8 yards/game, including three 100+ yard performances and five touchdowns; he’s now scored in three straight games. The 12 targets against Philly were a season-high and the second time in three games that he reached double digits. We’ll hope that continues this week against a Washington defense that has allowed 24 passing touchdowns and multiple WR scores in 7/13 games this year.
Golden Tate (82.7%) doubled his TDs-to-date on Sunday, getting into the end zone twice, converting his 10 targets into 9 catches and 60 yards. As you can plainly see from his yards per catch this game (6.67) and that number on the year (8.8, 120th in the NFL on 76 rec, 675 yards), his yardage total definitely has a low ceiling as he runs mostly underneath and drag routes. Eighty yards is actually his season high. Nevertheless, his PPR value makes him a must-play on Monday Night Football against Football Outsiders’ 32nd ranked defense according to their DVOA metric. Tate has converted 32 of his 39 targets into catches (82%) over the last month, tying Brandon Marshall for the most over that stretch. Another touchdown or 100+ yards would simply be wishful thinking, but a 7-65 floor is pretty damn nice.
Benjamin Watson (69.5%) has created a remarkable floor at a volatile tight end position on a disappointing team putting up not-very-Saints-like numbers at age 34 in his 11th season. That reads something like a terrible fantasy mad lib, but it’s all very true. Ben can easily beat his career totals in receptions, yards and TDs in a year in which he has already caught a 46-yard TD, the longest play of his career. The old man’s target totals the last three games are 9, 8, 11 and he hasn’t received fewer than 5 since all the way back in Week 4. Watson will likely be in the TE slot of many league winning teams with matchups against Detroit and Jacksonville over the next two weeks — and that statement is getting less and less surprising as this year unfolds.
Tyler Lockett (45.5%) is another small-ish receiver who has had a major boost in production over the last month and leads all rookies in catches (20), yards (280) and TDs (4) in that span. His success has directly correlated to the loss of Jimmy Graham and some out-of-this-world QB play by Russell Wilson. While Doug Baldwin has been the biggest beneficiary of Wilson’s recent deep ball bonanza, the rookie has still scored multiple times in 2 of the last 4 games. The Seahawks typically split the run and pass plays right down the middle, but their backfield in a game they’ll need to win to keep their streak alive is a basket of goodies consisting of Fred Jackson, Christine Michael, and Bryce Brown. The Cleveland defense did a good job of shutting down fellow NFC West’s San Francisco offense, but that doesn’t mean they resemble even a decent D. Lockett can be tucked away in your Flex spot or promoted to your WR2 slot if need be.
A.J. McCarron (7.3%) got the call Sunday afternoon when Andy Dalton fudged his thumb after shovel-passing an interception; A.J. didn’t do half bad, tossing for 280 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. One of those interceptions turned into a pick-6 on a terrible decision to throw the ball, but these things will happen to a guy receiving his first real NFL action. The good news is A.J. Green is a top-7 or 8 wide receiver and he happens to play on the same team. The bad news is Tyler Eifert, who is probably an even better tight end, will more than likely be in street clothes this Sunday @ San Francisco. The 49ers’ defense just allowed Johnny Manziel to throw for 270 yards with far less potent weapons, so McCarron could be in play for a “oh what the hell” option in 2-QB leagues and might not be the worst idea to dabble with in DFS.
Devonta Freeman (98.5%) has a value that has been spiraling downward over his last 4 games while the offense around him shows downright ineptitude. His team hasn’t won a game since October, perhaps not too coincidentally the last month in which their running back had 100+ yards or a touchdown. Devonta’s highest rushing total over his last four games is 47 while he has accumulated 142 yards on 41 carries (3.46 YPC). The 145 receiving yards on 21 catches have been a bit of a saving grace, but probably hasn’t done you a whole lot of good in a standard league. Jacksonville’s defense is assuredly not the Carolina defense and should help Freeman get back into the end zone, though it might be more likely that he does it via the catch as Jacksonville hasn’t been too effective at stopping receiving backs. If Matt Ryan can manage to throw multiple touchdowns it wouldn’t be very surprising if one of them had a lot to do with Freeman’s yards after catch ability.
Ronnie Hillman (75.5%) was given the lion’s share of backfield touches against the Oakland Raiders with C.J. Anderson ‘active’ and turned his 19 touches into 61 total yards. His 12 carries included a long of 11, yet he still only managed 20 yards on the ground, a nifty 1.8 YPC. His seven catches are a good sign of his involvement in Brock’s check-down game and will be in full effect on Sunday against a Pittsburgh defense that is great against the run and terrible against the pass. Ronnie has averaged nearly 19 touches/game over the past month — with or without CJ in the lineup — yet has turned those touches into only two productive games. He’s a scary start for a team you’re trying to get into the fantasy Championship.
Donte Moncrief (60.5%) has been a frustrating fantasy commodity with a revolving door of injured quarterbacks throwing (or not throwing) him the ball. A week after being targeted 9 times for 8 catches and 114 yards he received only 1 target against a team in Pittsburgh that is typically very easy to move the ball against. (Indy scored only 10 that game.) This last week his target total shot right back up to 10, yet he was only able to pull in 3 of those for 52 yards. To cloud the situation and push you off of playing the talented 2nd year player even further is his lack of involvement in practice all week (as of Thursday). It looks as though you’ll have to pass up playing him against a stout Houston defense, but he could very much be in play against Miami’s secondary in Week 16, especially if it looks as if Andrew Luck has a shot at playing.
Shane Vereen (46.6%) is so easy to pick on. The whole Giants’ backfield is, even though Rashad Jennings just ran for 81 yards. And for anyone who has kept an eye on this backfield all season, it really felt like closer to 181 yards. Vereen can absolutely not be started these last few games, even if he does happen to hit his ceiling of 5 catches for 18 yards.
Dorial Green-Beckham (21.1%) came back to earth a little bit, but still grabbed 3 of his 7 targets for 53 yards. Drops are still a theme here and will probably continue throughout this final month, but Marcus Mariota doesn’t have a whole lot of options at his disposal. Hopefully Tennessee will be able to move the ball a little bit better this week (and won’t have to score on a Mariota 40+ yard reception) as Vegas has the Patriots’ team total over 30. It would be nice to see if DGB is used heavily in a shoot-out style game like he was in Week 13 against Jacksonville when the Titans defense gave up 39 points. A desperate Flex play at best, it could end up paying dividends if you have to score 20+ points or bust.