Man, where does time go? The only problem with fantasy football is that it is too damn short. Draft day feels like it was just a couple of short weeks ago. Yet, here we are. Some of us are about to play in our final game of the 2019 season. Sadly, that also means that these match-ups have no consequences. Contrary, it’s also semi-finals week, which means that there is a lot at stake.
Fantasy owners will need to make some big calls this week due to the sheer number of injuries that occurred in Week 14. Big-time fantasy players such as Marvin Jones, Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Rashaad Penny, DeVante Parker and Derrius Guice are all done for the year. That means that you’ll need to gamble on bench players that you may entirely trust to get it done. Of course, injuries mean that other players get a chance to shine, and there are still lots of options that can be picked up right away.
Thursday’s game saw the Baltimore Ravens finally lock up the AFC East, although the title was never really in question. Their 42-21 win over the Jets was all about Lamar Jackson, who all but secured the MVP title with an emphatic performance. With 86 rushing yards, Jackson smashed the single-season record for quarterback rushing yards and now sits on 1,108 with two games remaining. He also threw five touchdown passes, a career-high. That equates to a 37.08 fantasy point performance and a lot of ecstatic owners. Other fantasy leaders in the game included Jamison Crowder (27), Mark Ingram (23.6), Seth Roberts (15.6), Mark Andrews (15.2) and Marquise Brown (14.5).
*Fantasy points references based on PPR (NFL.com).
– Start ‘Em –
Jimmy Garoppolo – opponent: vs Falcons
Understandably, you may not want to trust Jimmy G this late in the season. But hear me out. Over the last seven weeks, he leads the league in touchdowns (18), is second in passing yards and third in passer rating. He’s had a four-touchdown game in three of his last six games. He has a favourable match-up when the Falcons travel to Levi Stadium. They rank 24th in pass defense, giving up 8 yards per play. Another big game could be in store.
Projection: 310 passing yards, 3 TDs.
Baker Mayfield – opponent: @ Cardinals
Despite all of the preseason hype, Mayfield has had a pretty miserable fantasy year. He ranks just 19th among quarterbacks and is yet to post a 25+ point game. That changes this week when the Browns head to Arizona. The Cardinals rank dead last in both passing yards (294.2 per game) and touchdowns (32) allowed. It’s now or never.
Projection: 305 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD.
– Sit ‘Em –
Josh Allen – opponent: @ Steelers
Josh Allen has had a very good fantasy year, ranking fifth among all quarterbacks. However, he’s struggled mightily against good defenses – see New England (8.72 points) and Baltimore (10.74 points). With the Steelers allowing just 13.27 points to opposing quarterbacks, he should be avoided in what is a crucial week.
Projection: 170 passing yards, 1 TD, 36 rushing yards.
Russell Wilson – opponent: @ Panthers
Including an MVP candidate in the Sit ‘Em column is a bold move. However, Wilson’s numbers over the last four weeks just don’t warrant him as a lock-in starter. He hasn’t eclipsed 250 passing yards since Week 9 and is averaging just one touchdown pass in those games. He’s coming off a zero touchdown game in Los Angeles. Yes, he’s playing a dwindling Panthers secondary but there is certainly an unusual cause for concern.
Projection: 205 passing yards, 2 TDs.
– Start ‘Em –
David Montgomery – opponent: @ Packers
The Bears are riding a three-game winning streak, largely due to an upturn in offensive performance. David Montgomery has made sizable contributions in the last two, with an 87-yard, 1 TD game in Detroit and then adding another 86 yards against Dallas. Sunday’s temperature is set to be below freezing and the Packers rank 27th against fantasy running backs. With Jordan Howard set to miss more time, Montgomery could get 20+ touches for the fourth time this season.
Projection: 82 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards, 1 TD.
Raheem Mostert – opponent: @ Saints
Mostert has 48.3 fantasy points in his last two games and ranks second, behind only James White. He’s also leading the league with 6 yards per carry. Yet he’s only owned in 55% of NFL.com leagues. The 49ers will look to get back to the running game when they return to Levi Stadium this week and Mostert should be considered a must-start player in all formats.
Projection: 72 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards, 2 TDs.
– Sit ‘Em –
Bo Scarbrough – opponent: @ Buccaneers
Scarbrough hasn’t found the end zone since his first start in Week 11. Since then, he’s seen a significant number of touches but has not been able to capitalize. The Lions have a tough match-up this week against the Buccaneers’ number one ranked run defense. After an underwhelming season, they’ll want to lead that stat to close out the season. Scarborough was listed as a non-participant on Thursday, so should he not play, then this still applies to Ty Johnson and JD McKissic, should they start instead.
Projection: 52 rushing yards.
Devonta Freeman – opponent: @ 49ers
After missing two weeks, Freeman has returned with consecutive games of 17 carries and four receptions. However, he has been limited in practice and has a cross-country trip against a defense that will be looking to tighten up this week. Freeman has averaged 3 yards per carry or less in seven games this year.
Projection: 48 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards.
– Start ‘Em –
Dede Westbrook – opponent: @ Raiders
With DJ Chark expected to be out, Westbrook could be in line for a very good game this week. He’s seen at least seven targets in his last three games and gets a positive match-up against a Raiders defense that ranks 20th against fantasy wideouts. Westbrook has been limited in practice this week, but signs point to him starting.
Projection: 88 receiving yards, 1 TD.
Justin Watson – opponent: @ Lions
Okay, this is certainly the high-risk, high-reward start of the week. The Bucs’ Watson stepped in for Mike Evans last week and posted a career-high 59 yards and a touchdown. With Evans out for the remainder of the season and Chris Godwin facing a potential double-coverage scenario, Watson could have a big day. He’s owned in just 0.2% of leagues. However, he’ll be a bigger risk if Winston isn’t good to go.
Projection: 70 receiving yards, 1 TD.
– Sit ‘Em –
Amari Cooper – opponent: vs Rams
Cooper found the end zone last week for the first time since Week 10. While he ranks sixth on the year in receiver scoring, he’s capable of dropping an egg on occasion. He was held to zero receptions against the Patriots three weeks ago and has other games that are concerning (3 yards @ Jets, 38 yards @ Lions). He’ll be up against Jalen Ramsey this week.
Projection: 64 receiving yards.
Tyler Boyd – opponent: vs Patriots
The return of Andy Dalton had led to a resurgence in fantasy output for Tyler Boyd, who has scored double-digit points in his last three games. He’s owned by 92.6% of owners and you may be considering taking a game. You shouldn’t; the Patriots are ranked number first in fantasy points allowed and are excellent against the slot.
Projection: 50 receiving yards.
– Start ‘Em –
Austin Hooper – opponent: @ 49ers
Hooper returned from an MLC sprain with a modest 32 yards last week. However, he was targeted six times which ranked second behind only Julio Jones. He should benefit from another week of practice and the possibility of Atlanta falling behind against the 49ers. San Francisco conceded two early touchdowns to Jared Cook last week before he was ruled out with a concussion.
Projection: 65 receiving yards, 1 TD.
Mike Gesicki – opponent: @ Giants
Finding a consistent tight end has been a difficult challenge this year and Gesicki has posted reasonably competitive numbers since Week 6. It is a slight concern that he’s coming off a performance with two catches for six yards. However, with DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson questionable for Sunday’s match-up against the Giants, Gesicki could see a higher target share.
Projection: 48 receiving yards, 1 TD.
– Sit ‘Em –
Jacob Hollister – opponent: @ Panthers
Hollister is a touchdown-dependent starter who hasn’t found the end zone since a Week 10 game in San Francisco. Since then, he’s averaging 33.3 yards and is trending downwards. While the Panthers’ run defense has all but given up, they have remained very tight against the tight end position. They rank second in fantasy points given up to tight ends (9.28 per game) and have allowed only three to the position all year.
Projection: 38 receiving yards.
Kyle Rudolph – opponent: @ Chargers
Rudolph’s touchdown streak ended at four games last week. He put up a woeful 11 yards. To make things worse, he was out-targeted by the Vikings rookie tight end, Irv Smith. Things don’t get easier this week when he faces a Chargers defense that is ranked ninth against opposing tight ends in fantasy. With Adam Thielen potentially returning this week, Rudolph’s production could return to irrelevancy.
Projection: 26 receiving yards.
Featured Picture – Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports