Week 14 Preview – Tough Decisions

By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)

Start and Bench decisions are always tough to make in fantasy football. You really have no control over what’s going to happen on Sunday (or Thursday, Monday and even Tuesday or Wednesday this year) and the uncertainty about who’s going to play and how much just makes it worse. It’s like NFL coaches don’t understand how important their decisions are to millions of us fantasy football players.

Last year, there was a big outcry in the fantasy community when the Cardinals had David Johnson activated for a Week 7 game versus the Giants but played only three snaps while his backup at the time (Chase Edmonds) ended up with 37.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. It happened again in Week 13 this year with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Both times, the team’s coach said the active player was available, but only in “an emergency”.  Unfortunately, those announcements were made after the game was played and fantasy managers made the tough and ultimately incorrect decision to start Johnson (or Edwards-Helaire) instead of Edmonds or someone else who could help them win.

Start or Bench decisions are even tougher when you’re in the playoffs or trying to win that extra first round draft pick in the Loser’s Bracket tournament. A loss in Week 7 when David Johnson is a Starter for your Dynasty Owner team but barely plays hurts, but can be overcome. A loss in the first round of the playoffs or draft pick tournament is permanent, you’re out!

This week’s decisions have more weight and also seemed more difficult to make. There are players out with COVID who might be cleared in time to play on Sunday, lots of guys are “limited” in practice on Thursday, but end up playing on Sunday while others don’t. There was a Thursday night game that might have caused you to decide earlier than you would have like to do it. The decision between two similar players is already tough enough, but the added layer of being in a must-win situation just amplifies everything.

Everyone has tough decisions if they have a game this week or are in the Chase for the Ring standings and need to keep scoring points. And we have a Match-up of the Week featuring someone who has publicly agonized with the tough decisions about who to pick up and start for his team at the end of the season. Now, he ended up making the playoffs, so the tough decisions continue. We’ll look at his playoff game, check out the overall projected score and then the Starters and Bench for both teams to see how their current lineups are projected to produce.

All stats are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

Standard Dynasty Owner scoring for kickers gives you 1 point for every extra point, while a missed extra point will cost you 1 point. It’s 2 points for a field goal of between 0 and 39 yards, 4 points for a field goal between 40 and 49 yards and 5 points for a field goal of 50 yards or longer. A missed field goal of between 0 and 39 yards will cost you 3 points, while a miss of 40 yards or more is a loss of 2 points.

For the purposes of this article, ADP and Dynasty Owner ownership statistics were current as of December 11th.

These Guys Should be Starters This Week

First, let’s take a look at how my Week 13 Starter recommendations fared (Good, Bad or Just Ok):

  • QB: Mitchell Trubisky – 16.9 (Bad recommendation)
  • RB: J.K. Dobbins – 13.1 (Just Ok recommendation)
  • WR: Sterling Shepard – 5.2 (Bad recommendation)
  • TE: Mike Gesicki – 23.8 (Good recommendation)

A slightly below average Week 13 with only one Good recommendation and one Just Ok plus two Bad recommendations. Both Trubisky and Shepard were well outside of the top players for Week 13. In the middle was J.K. Dobbins who finished just outside of the Top 20 RBs with his 13.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy point week. The choice of Mike Gesicki at TE was the first Good TE recommendation since back in Week 4. Even though we had more Bad than Good recommendations during the regular season, we still get to make more tough decisions about who should be in your Starting lineup in Week 14:

Taysom Hill (QB – NO):  So far, Taysom Hill has been pretty good as the starting QB for the New Orleans Saints, scoring just under 23.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in his three starts. His passing hasn’t been off the charts with just 543 passing yards as a starter (181 per game). However, much to the annoyance of Alvin Kamara’s Dynasty Owner, he’s made up for it by averaging 59.3 rushing yards per game and scoring 4 rushing TDs. In Week 14, the Saints get to play the Eagles, who have given up 17 rushing TDs this year (third most in the NFL) and a rushing TD in nine games. It’s highly likely that the Saints have a rushing TD this week and that the ball stays in Hill’s hands for that TD. Lamar Jackson had his best rushing game of the year back in Week 6 against the Eagles with 9 rushes for 108 yards and a rushing TD. Hill could duplicate the 34.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points that Jackson scored that week, making him someone you want in your Starting lineup.

Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA): Cam Akers would have been perfect in this spot as he was the #57 ranked RB in Dynasty Owner before last night’s Rams-Patriots game, but slated to be the lead RB. Akers didn’t disappoint the Dynasty Owners who started him as he got them 23.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. The next best choice is tough, but the nod goes to Myles Gaskin. With the return of Tua Tagovailoa, the return of Gaskin to the Miami lineup may have been overshadowed a little, but his return was important for the Dolphins who have been hit with the injury bug at RB. Gaskin came in last week and returned to form with 13.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points – right on his season long average of 13.8 points per game. Since he’s missed four games, he’s only the overall #33 RB in Dynasty Owner and since his Dynasty Owners didn’t draft him (ADP 258.8) with the intent of starting him in the playoffs, he fits here. He seems like a good play for your Starting lineup in the playoffs because he’s been very consistent – no real highs (season high of 20.1), but no lows either (season low of 9.2). If you forgot to get him in your Starting lineup last week, there’s plenty of time to make the decision to get him in it this week.

Michael Gallup (WR – DAL): Out of the five Dallas Cowboys’ starting skill position players (RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper, WR CeeDee Lamb, WR Michael Gallup and TE Dalton Schultz), Gallup is the only one not to have experienced a drop in production after the injury to starting QB Dak Prescott. Gallup has averaged 7.3 targets per game without Dak after averaging 5.6 targets per game with him. He averaged 11.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the five games that Dak started, but has gone up slightly to 12.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the seven games without him. Last week against the Ravens, Andy Dalton targeted him 11 times (more than either Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb) and he scored 21.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. As the #44 WR in Dynasty Owner on the season, Gallup is just outside of being a Starter in your Dynasty Owner lineup, but put him in there this week against Cincinnati.

Noah Fant (TE – DEN): After the first two weeks of the season, the idea of Fant not being in the Top 12 TEs seemed ridiculous as he had 19.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in Week 1 versus Tennessee and 17.7 points in Week 2 versus Pittsburgh. Since then, he’s gone without a TD catch and now sits as the #14 TE overall. It hasn’t been all terrible as he has still averaged 7.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game since Week 3. In the 10 games he’s played this season with a real QB, he’s averaging 6.5 targets per game and now gets to face the Carolina defense that is in the bottom five in targets, receptions and receiving yards allowed to TEs. Fant is unlikely to produce a huge number of Dynasty Owner fantasy points, but should get enough to be worth having in your Starting lineup.

These Guys Should Be on the Bench (or Practice Squad) This Week

Next up is reviewing the Week 13 Bench or Practice Squad recommendations to see how those did.

  • QB: Josh Allen – 40.8 (Bad recommendation)
  • RB: Kenyan Drake – 13.8 (Just Ok recommendation)
  • WR: Terry McLaurin – 3.4 (Good recommendation)
  • TE: Hunter Henry – 1.5 (Good recommendation)

Two weeks in a row with two Good recommendations. That’s better than most of the season and better than the Starting lineup recommendations. My Bench recommendations have been the best for WRs and TEs and these are the positions that were spot on this week. Terry McLaurin and Hunter Henry had less than 5.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points combined. Kenyan Drake was trending towards a Good recommendation, but had a 4-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to give him double-digit points and a Just Ok mark. Finally, the choice for QB was terrible for the fourth week in a row. Time to make our first set of playoff Starting lineup recommendations and hope that we keep on track with the WRs and TEs and finally give a good Bench recommendation at QB in Week 14:

Kyler Murray (QB – ARI):  Murray injured his shoulder against Seattle back in Week 11 and has only scored an average of 18.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in that game and the two games since the injury. More distressing for his Dynasty Owners is that he’s only had 15 rushing attempts for 61 rushing yards (4.1 yards per carry) in those three games after starting the season averaging 6.9 yards per carry (87 rushing attempts for 604 rushing yards). The Giants defense has only allowed opposing QBs to run for a total of 107 yards all season. Admittedly, outside of Russell Wilson, they haven’t faced any really good running QBs, but Murray hasn’t run much since his injury. The teams are heading in opposite directions with the Giants on a four game winning streak and the Cardinals having lost three in a row. Each of the Giants’ opponents during their winning streak have scored 20 points or less per game. An injured Murray against a defense playing well seems like a bad combination so keep Murray on your Bench this week.

Giovani Bernard (RB – DAL): Bernard and the Bengals face off against the Dallas Cowboys defense that has allowed the second most rushing yards to RBs and had a 100 yard rusher against them in each of the past three weeks. However, Bernard isn’t a traditional between the tackles RB because he gets two-thirds of his fantasy points in the passing game. In that aspect of the game, Dallas is the best, allowing the fewest receptions and receiving yards by RBs (42 receptions for only 240 receiving yards). To top it off, Bernard has faded since the Bengals bye week, scoring just an average of 7.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game after having 24.2 and 22.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the first two games replacing Joe Mixon as the lead RB for the Bengals. He’s just the #28 ranked RB in Dynasty Owner, but would slot as a RB2 or FLEX after factoring in injures. Don’t do it. Leave Bernard on your Bench this week.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT): There are a lot of pass catchers in the Pittsburgh offense. You’ve got JuJu, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron and even James Washington showed up last week with 2 receptions for 80 yards and a receiving TD. Smith-Schuster, Claypool and Johnson are all similarly ranked in Dynasty Owner at #22, #23 and #25 among WRs. However, Smith-Schuster is the one has been relying on volume more than the others recently as he’s scored 32.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the past three weeks, but needed 19 receptions to do it. His longest reception on the season is just 31 yards and he’s only averaging 8.2 yards per reception for the season and 4.4 yards per reception over the past three weeks. If the volume stops, then so does Smith-Schuster’s fantasy value. That’s concerning so Bench him this week.

Robert Tonyan (TE – GB): Tonyan is in his second stretch of three consecutive games with a TD reception this season and has moved up to be the #4 TE in Dynasty Owner on the season. Back in Week 2, Detroit held Tonyan to 2 receptions for 25 yards, but did allow him to score his first TD of the season. What Detroit didn’t do was stop Aaron Jones and the Green Bay running game as the Packers ran for 259 yards in total with Jones getting 168 yards all by himself. If that happens again and Aaron Rodgers only throws the ball 30 times like he did in Week 2, there won’t be a lot of passes for Tonyan to catch since it seems like every Rodgers’ pass attempt goes to Davante Adams. That doesn’t leave a lot of chances for Tonyan. In fact, he’s only been targeted 36 times in the 9 games he’s played with Adams (4 targets per game). That’s not a lot of opportunities to produce for Tonyan, so be wary about putting him in your Starting lineup and consider having him on your Bench.

Dynasty Owner Matchup of the Week –

Girthquake vs. CLE Piggy Pauls

It’s the Dynasty Owner playoffs and time to start looking at some must-win games for everyone involved. The first playoff Dynasty Owner Matchup of the Week features a team that everyone who listens to the Tuesday podcast should be familiar with, it’s our podcast host and the Voice of Dynasty Owner Seth Kerechanin, Ph.D. and his team CLE Piggy Pauls facing off for the second week in a row against Girthquake. Seth’s road to the playoffs has been rocky, but he made it and his reward is a rematch with the team he defeated just last week by a score of 134.9 to 119.8. The CLE Piggy Pauls are the #4 seed, but were actually outscored over the course of the Dynasty Owner regular season to the tune of nearly 200 points by Girthquake.

Based on the exclusive Dynasty Owner scoring projections for each team’s current lineup, it’s bad news for Girthquake as he’s projected to lose by a score of 120.3-119.7. Let’s check out each team’s Starters and see who’s in there now and if there are any tough decisions that might need to be made over the weekend.

Advantage Girthquake! Girthquake has a 5 point lead from their Starting lineup over Seth’s team. Seth is rolling with his late season pickup QB Taysom Hill this week and has a solid lineup. Girthquake isn’t dominating at any single position, but still has the overall advantage.

The Bench situation is pretty similar, but Girthquake has Christian McCaffrey on his Bench right now, while Seth has Denzel Mims on his Bench. The news that McCaffrey and Mims are out this week should make both of them pull someone off their Practice Squad. That’s not a tough decision, but choosing the right player from the Practice Squad could be. Both teams need to make that decision so they don’t end up costing themselves a playoff victory by taking a zero when they could have someone in there scoring points.

I’m sure this will be a major discussion topic on the Tuesday afternoon live podcast so tune in to find out who wins and advances in the playoffs.

Conclusion

The decisions were tough this week and if you make the correct ones (or had a bye), you get another chance to make those decisions again next week. This week was exceptionally difficult, and things will likely get more difficult as the stakes get higher and higher.

We will feature another playoff Matchup next week so if you want your team to be featured, then just tweet me (@SteveVT33). You might see your Dynasty Owner playoff team highlighted as the Matchup of the Week. Because of the frozen rosters, there’s no need for the usual weekly free agent article from Jay Poundsee (@jaypoundsnfl), but Matt Morrison – The Jerk (@Dynastyjerk) put together an article on League Winners and Playoff Predictions that everyone should go check out. Follow all of us as well as Dynasty Owner (@Dynasty_Owner) on Twitter.

There will also be the weekly Tuesday Live podcast at 3 PM (Eastern) / Noon (Pacific) with Seth and Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer and the weekly podcast series with myself and Tim on Wednesday at 1 PM (Eastern) / 10 AM (Pacific). Both will be streaming live on the Dynasty Owner channel on YouTube. Tune in to learn more about Dynasty Owner, see how our predictions did and help you set your weekly lineup. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and make sure to “Like” all of the videos to help promote them. Dynasty Owner has 571 subscribers on YouTube now and thank you all for watching and listening. All of this great content is available to help you win your weekly matchup, your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

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