Hopefully your fantasy football week didn’t produce Knowshon Moreno-like tears. Instead, I hope your victory forced you to do a Knowshon army crawl around your living room. That’s what I did, at least.
For most leagues, the regular season is over. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve seen 13 weeks of football; 13 weeks of up-and-down anxiety, missed waiver wire claims and ridiculous single-game performances (multiple games in the case of Josh Gordon).
It’s playoff time. And if you’re fortunate enough to still be playing relevant fantasy football games, then follow along below. The name of the game, just like last week, is upside. Remember, at this point in the season, you can take ridiculous chances with your bench.
Add Running Back Handcuffs
If you haven’t done this yet, make sure you do during this week’s waiver period. I was vocal about not drafting running back handcuffs to start the year, but that had to do with wasted bench space and opportunity cost during your drafts. In Week 14, you’re not really in need of great depth, so having the security is nice.
If I’m an Adrian Peterson owner, I’m adding Toby Gerhart. If I own Jamaal Charles, I’m taking a shot with Knile Davis. It’s well worth it at this point in the season.
Add Ladarius Green
Green now has nine catches over his last three games, totaling two touchdowns and 206 yards. His tight end teammate, Antonio Gates, has 12 catches for 114 yards and one score during this time.
Though Gates has seen more targets over this span (23 vs. 16), it’s very clear that the Chargers are trying to get their new athletic tight end in space. It makes sense too, as Green has the best Reception Net Expected Points per Target average of any tight end with 10 or more catches on the season.
I’ve got to hand it to our own Phil Alexander, who wrote about Ladarius Green’s potential a week before the tight end became a bigger part of this Chargers’ offense. It’s proving to be correct, and Green should continue to be a big playmaker at the position as the season reaches its conclusion. Add him if he’s available.
Add Joe Flacco
Flacco hasn’t done much this season, sitting with a Passing NEP of 12.89, the 21st-best in the league. But he’s put together two 14-plus fantasy point performances over his last two games, and will face a Vikings defense in Week 14 that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Through 13 weeks, Minnesota has given up at least one passing touchdown in each game, including nine games of surrendering 280 or more passing yards.
That matches up with our analytics, too; the Vikes own the second-worst pass defense according to our metrics when you adjust for strength of schedule.
If you’re in a deeper league and need a quarterback play for this week only, Flacco should provide a high floor at home.
Replace Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer’s turned it up a notch over the last month or so, and has been fantasy football’s fourth-best quarterback over the last three weeks. However, things could get a little bumpy for Palmer down the stretch.
He gets the Rams this week, a team that ranks 22nd in the Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP statistic. Palmer posted a 17-point fantasy day against the Rams in Week 1, so there’s reason to believe he can be a low-end QB1 or a high-end QB2 this week.
But I’d look to replace him because of his deeper fake football schedule. He’ll face Tennessee in Week 15, a squad that’s average against the pass when adjusted for strength of schedule, but one that’s allowed just two passing touchdowns since Week 4. Then, in Week 16, Carson will go up against our schedule adjusted top pass defense, Seattle.
He could certainly still produce this week, but don’t have a short-term game plan if you’ve been riding Palmer over the last couple of games.
Add the Raiders’ Defense
Outside of that Nick Foles adventure in Week 9, Oakland’s defense, from a fantasy perspective, hasn’t been all that bad. But when you stream a defense, that doesn’t really matter – it’s all about opponent.
And Oakland couldn’t ask for a better one in Week 14. They’ll face Geno Smith and the Jets, a team that’s allowed opposing fantasy defenses to score double-digit points in all but one game since Week 6. The Jets will be starting Geno again this week – who, I should add, has by far the worst Passing NEP in the league – so get ready to stream Oakland’s defense.
Drop Trent Richardson
The unfortunate part about this transaction is that I’m sure plenty of teams who own Trent Richardson didn’t make the playoffs since he was a first-round draft selection. If that’s the case, still drop him – you’ll feel better about yourself.
Richardson is worthless in fantasy football at this point, and even if he all of a sudden has a three-touchdown performance, the risk in starting him is far too high. Donald Brown is the back to own in Indy, not T-Rich. Wait until next year. Or never.
Add Dennis Pitta
Before messing up his hip prior to the season, Pitta was talked highly about in fantasy football circles. The Ravens didn’t have an immediate replacement for lost wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and were hoping the big-bodied Pitta could fill the void.
Unfortunately, his hip has kept him out the entire season, but there’s a possibility that he returns as soon as this week. Because of his upside and lack of competition in the offense, he’s worth a look off your waiver wire, even if you don’t play him until championship week. Remember, the bench is for upside – it’s for players like Dennis Pitta.
Add Jared Cook
Perhaps you’ve been streaming tight ends all year and are looking for one in Week 14. Jared Cook could be your man.
Remember that Week 1 performance that forced everyone to second guess why they allowed Jared Cook to pass them in Round 10 of fantasy football drafts? Well, that was against Arizona, his Week 14 opponent.
The Cardinals are great on defense, but they haven’t been able to stop tight ends all season long. In fact, they’re the worst team in the league when it comes to surrendering fantasy points to the tight end position.
Over their last seven games, the Cards have given up a tight end touchdown in all but one, including three to the Eagles last Sunday.
Cook’s Week 1 performance accounts for over 28% of his half-point PPR fantasy total. Maybe he’ll do it again against Arizona.
Add the Bills’ Defense
Buffalo actually owns the 11th-best fantasy and real (say our metrics) defense this year, so it’s not as though this streaming option is a bad one in most matchups. This week, the Bills will be taking on Tampa Bay, a young offense with the potential to struggle. Mike Glennon’s posted a 1.78 Passing NEP so far this year – a bottom one in the league – and has typically been able to only perform against weak defenses (Seattle game aside). The Bills are a nice play in Week 14.
Hold Harry Douglas
I know, I know – you started Douglas over Roddy White this week, and lost some points because of it. But have no fear, Harry owners (I really wanted to spell that “hairy”). Douglas will still be a big part of this passing game moving forward. In fact, Douglas’ 15 targets in Week 13 tied him for second-most in the league – more than Roddy, too.
The Falcons have nice matchups upcoming against Green Bay and Washington, so don’t go dropping Douglas thinking he’ll be worthless.
Add Julian Edelman
Edelman’s currently owned in just 30.2% of ESPN.com leagues despite posting 18 receptions and 211 yards over his last two games. He has 23 targets during this time, which is 11 more than wide receiver teammate Danny Amendola.
If Edelman is available, especially in PPR leagues, he’s certainly worth the add. Even with a healthy squad, Brady’s looking his way.
Add Rod Streater and Andre Holmes
Remember, guys – it’s about upside. Though Matt McGloin is an inexperienced quarterback with little to bring to the table from a fantasy standpoint, there’s no reason to just pass up the opportunity for potential targets.
On Thanksgiving, Andre Holmes was targeted 11 times, bringing him to 16 over the last two weeks. Rod Streater saw four of his own, and has 13 over his last two games. If Denarius Moore misses more time with a shoulder injury, there’s a chance Holmes and Streater continue to get 6 or 7 looks per game. And this week, the Raiders get the Jets, who have given up nine wide receiver touchdowns in their last four games.
Add E.J. Manuel
Though Manuel was a tad disappointing through the air against a ridiculously bad Falcons pass defense, he made up for it with his legs, scoring a rushing touchdown. That not only kept the Falcons “giving up two touchdowns per game to opposing quarterbacks” streak alive, but it gave Manuel a QB13 rank in Week 13.
The Bills have another nice matchup this week versus the Bucs, who haven’t been able to stop any quarterback of late. Though Tampa Bay is middle-of-the-road in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP, that has a lot to do with how they performed at the beginning of the season.
Since their bye in Week 5, the Bucs have allowed at least two passing touchdowns per game in every matchup, including no fantasy performance lower than 15.4 standard points. Manuel’s a great streamer this week.
Add Zach Ertz
Ertz took advantage of the aforementioned Cardinals defense last week, catching five passes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. While his matchup against the Lions isn’t great (they rank ninth against the tight end position this year), he’s worth an add given his talent and potential. He’s a free agent in 99% of ESPN.com leagues, so he should be available.
Add Michael Crabtree
Crabtree played 62.6 percent of the 49ers snaps during his big return against the Rams on Sunday, catching two balls on four targets. He should gradually become a bigger part of this offense down the stretch, and has a juicy, juicy matchup against the Falcons during fantasy football championship week (Week 16). I’ve mentioned him plenty of times in this column already, so you know what to do – he’s still owned in under 20 percent of ESPN.com leagues.