Streaming Spotlight – Week 14 QB & TE
December 8, 2016 | Chris Manni
WHAT TIME IS IT!? GAME TIME! WOOOOOO! I get psyched up every time I listen to Michael Jordan and those great Chicago Bulls teams chant before games. It gets the competitive juices flowing for sure. Just as exciting for fantasy football players is the anticipation of the first playoff week. You may have thrived in the regular season or simply survived, but either way, none of that matters now. The fantasy football playoffs are a time to utilize your decision making process between steady versus upside options and talent versus matchups. Since no one has or will ever turn fantasy football into a science, don’t be afraid to make a mistake and go for the win. There is nothing more gratifying than making a league-winning decision. For example, I remember making what many would have considered a bold decision in the 2011 Championship Week by picking up and starting Jared Cook. He rewarded that decision with eight catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. It was the difference in the matchup. Those are the moments we strive for playing this fickle game. As we do each and every week, here are the Week 14 deeper QB and TE streaming options with players who are less than 50% owned on NFL.com. Good luck this week my good people, and I’ll talk to you next week as you move towards a championship.
Don’t forget to check out our DFS Cheat Sheets!
Colin Kaepernick (Ownership on NFL.com 14.2%) vs NYJ
Call me crazy…call me bold…but don’t call me scared. If you are feeling hesitant towards starting Colin Kaepernick in Week 14, you should. If you didn’t, I would be worried. Personally, it took me five straight highly productive weeks for me to start calling him a “high floor option” rather than the “dumpster fire floor” that he reminded us of last week. For fantasy, his Week 13 performance was horrible, but the reality was far worse. I can’t remember a quarterback taking more sacks (five) than gaining in passing yards (four), especially without an injury. In summary, I realize how bad that performance in Chicago was. Yet, I am willing to use that game as one data point out of a seven game sample size in which Kaepernick has started in 2016.
In the all-important Week 14, the Jets land in San Francisco with their incredibly generous pass defense to quarterbacks. Plus, the Jets’ defensive performance wasn’t much better than the offensive performance the 49ers displayed in Week 13. It looked as though the Jets gave up on Monday night at home and if you can’t get up for a nationally televised game in your own building, you need to look in the mirror. In Week 14, they travel across the country for another meaningless game. In these late season games between basement dwellers, I look for upcoming free agents because you know they are motivated. That is exactly what Colin Kaepernick is after opting out of his current deal. He needs to put together more positive game tape if he is to get paid in 2017 or even get a chance at a starting position. Lastly, this is a good spot for him to bounce back against the Jets’ pass-funnel defense that ranks dead last in the Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and second best against the run.
Bottom Line: As I mentioned for a number of weeks, starting Kaepernick is not for the risk averse. Yet, the contrarian in me, the analyst in me, and the football fan in me thinks this is a great bounce back spot. Consider Kaepernick a low end QB1 option who could win your playoff game for you or light your season on fire. I would start Kaepernick over Matt Ryan at LA (if no Jake Matthews or Julio Jones), Derek Carr at KC, Philip Rivers at CAR, and Marcus Mariota vs DEN.
Joe Flacco (18.1%) at NE
There haven’t been many people impressed with Joe Flacco this year and rightfully so. Yet, I was very impressed by last week’s performance against the Dolphins. In what many considered a “must-win” game at home, Flacco ripped the Fins for four touchdowns. While I don’t expect that level of production in Week 14, I expect useful fantasy production from “Wacko” Flacco as the Ravens travel to Foxborough for a Monday night battle. One key reason I like Flacco this week is that the Ravens simply are not afraid of going into Gillette Stadium. Flacco and Ravens have had success there both in the regular season and the playoffs, so they will come in confident. Additionally, I expect a pass-heavy game plan from the Ravens as the Patriots are a pass funnel defense that ranks 25th against the pass and fourth best against the run according to the Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. The Ravens haven’t run the ball well this year, and they know that the teams that are most successful against the Pats in New England are the teams that take the fight to them rather than trying to run and hide. I expect a good game for Flacco and if he can score touchdowns rather than field goals, he will not only help your fantasy team in deeper/two QB leagues but may also lead the Ravens to an upset victory.
Bottom Line: Consider Flacco a mid-range QB2 and a good starting option in two QB leagues. I would play Flacco over more popular options Carson Palmer at MIA, Alex Smith vs OAK, Eli Manning vs DAL.
Cameron Brate (32.0%) vs NO
There are many reasons to like Brate this week and throughout your fantasy playoffs. From a high-level perspective, Brate will serve as the Bucs’ number two passing game option with Vincent Jackson and Cecil Shorts on IR and Adam Humphries currently dealing with a concussion. This will only continue to increase Brate’s target level between the 20s in addition to the trust Jameis Winston has shown Brate in the red zone. As we all know, opportunities in the red zone means green for us in fantasy. Additionally, excluding the Kansas City game because you simply don’t play tight ends against stud safety Eric Berry, Brate has averaged 6.4 targets for 5 catches, 56.8 yards, and 0.8 touchdowns since Week 7. On a weekly basis, that is top five tight end production in 2016. In Week 14, Brate faces the Saints’ defense that ranks 24th in the aforementioned DVOA metric defending the tight end position in a game Vegas expects to be the highest scoring of the week. Fire up your Bucs in Week 14 and don’t forget about Brate.
Bottom Line: Brate is my sixth ranked tight end this week behind Kelce, Graham, Eifert, Olsen, and Walker. He also sports the most favorable schedule for any tight end in Weeks 14-16.
Ladarius Green (23.3%) at BUF
Similarly to Brate, Ladarius Green finds himself in great position to help fantasy rosters in these next few weeks. The Steelers have struggled to find a consistent third passing game option behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell all year with Martavis Bryant suspended and Green starting the year on the PUP List. Now that Green is healthy, his weekly snap counts continue to increase for the athletic seam stretcher. For fantasy purposes, these are quality snaps as he is running routes on the majority of those. It feels to me that the Steelers are playing to Green’s strengths as a finesse pass catching option rather than a traditional tight end. After Green’s 2016 breakout performance with six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown versus the Giants, the Steelers travel to Buffalo in Week 14 who have struggled defending athletic tight ends this year and rank 26th in DVOA. The arrow is pointing straight up for Green.
Bottom Line: Green is right below Brate in my rankings as the seventh ranked tight end. As mentioned in the Brate section, try to avoid playing tight ends against the Chiefs. If you are fortunate enough to get to Week 15, Green is a great potential replacement for Delanie Walker who faces Eric Berry next week. If you want to win a championship, you need to prioritize the current week, but keep an eye towards the next rounds as well. Consider it “playing chess rather than checkers.”
I have enjoyed fantasy sports for over twenty years and now enjoy sharing my thoughts with you fine folks. Follow me @chrismanniff on Twitter.