Each week Bobby Smith previews the Flukes or Flames from the fantasy world! Follow Bobby on Twitter at @fosterfantasy
Week to week we know we have surprise fantasy producers, wild weeks from regulars and then our disappointments from all over the board. This column is to help you, the waiver-wire searching, deep stat diving, sometimes FAAB spending fantasy enthusiast know which players are worth picking up or stashing. I will give you a fluke and a flame for each position, unless there are a couple that either have major bust or boom capability. Flukes will be those who have put up big numbers and are either down or are trending down. Flames will be those who are lighting the fantasy world on fire or look to keep stacking up points for those who took a chance on them.
Week 13 had some interesting twists and turns. Pittsburgh finally lost a game after playing with fire for several weeks. It will be interesting to see how far that team goes in the playoffs with the issues they have scoring points on offense. Washington and NYG look to be actually some sort of decent with some big defense and timely offense to keep a couple winning streaks alive and both tied for the NFC East lead. It would be amazing if one of these teams ended up at .500 after all is said and done. Washington has the slightly easier path with 3 teams below the .500 mark. COVID rates are dropping in the NFL while they skyrocket elsewhere. DJ Moore did hit that list even though his ankle made him iffy for Week 14 as well. Curtis Samuel was also part of the Panthers list of eight put on the COVID list.
Week 14 is usually an important week in fantasy football. Either it is week 1 of the playoffs or your last chance to make it in. Hopefully, this week’s list will be a catalyst to victory and advancement, one way or another. Last week was good. TE’s were a little off due to the Chargers laying an MASSIVE egg against New England, but most everything else was at least in horseshoes and hand grenades range. So, without further ado, let’s hit the playoffs running with Week 14 and the Flukes and Flames!!
Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
I had thought about a couple of other QBs here. Possibly Kyler Murray, who is cold and facing tough defenses, or Taysom Hill, who has had two games against Atlanta and now has some better defenses coming up, but I decided to just mention them and focus on this week and a big question mark in LA. It is a short week and a tough defense coming to town. I know Goff isn’t a rookie like Herbert, but Goff is iffy against any defense let alone a good one and NE just stiff armed the Chargers into next year with a 45-0 loss. The Rams defense won’t let this game get out of hand like that but I can see this matchup being a low scoring affair since both teams like to run the ball and play good defense. Beware of missed projections and below average output in this one but look forward to Goff facing the Jets next week.
Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens
I have a good feeling about this one. Yes, he did return against the Cowboys and their atrocious defense but it was a good return. His legs looked fresh and he made a few good throws to complement that to turn in a 30+ point week. Now he has a really good looking schedule going into the playoffs. The Browns look like a better team than in Week 1 but Lamar and the Ravens look poised to at least repeat the victory part of that Week 1 matchup. The weather in Cleveland also looks to play into the Ravens’ hands with a storm system moving though over the weekend. It looks to be cold and windy and time will only tell if it will be wet or snowy. Follow that up with home games against the Jags and Giants and you could really ride Jackson all the way to a title. As for waiver wire pick ups this week, there are slim pickings for good matchups and unfortunately the best may be in Dallas with Andy Dalton against the Bengals in a revenge game.
Kenyan Drake – Arizona Cardinals
This one is the difficult one this week. A lot of the guys I wanted to choose didn’t have a good week in the past couple of weeks and there are a lot of good matchups too. That lead me down to two RBs, Kenyan Drake and Dalvin Cook. Dalvin has a tough stretch though the playoffs but he is Dalvin Cook and the Vikings feed him the ball well. Alex Mattison is also down this week with appendicitis so that figures to just add another plus to his game. Therefore, Drake is our Fluke. He has been hitting double digits but usage has been up and down. He had 25 touches two weeks ago but then only 12 last week. The matchup against the Giants looks good on paper but its tougher than it looks. The Giants are hot right now and with Daniel Jones back and available this week, Gallman running well, and the NYG playing well, it could be a much harder game to win that one would have thought earlier in the season. The Cardinals are also on a losing streak in which the offense has been sputtering in the last three weeks, even if Kenyan fared well. So I’m calling for this matchup and the rest of the schedule to put a fluke status on Mr. Drake.
Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams
Once again, there are so many good matchups for RBs near the top of the list and those who don’t have a good matchup haven’t had good weeks in a while. Adam Jones, Derrick Henry, Chris Carson and James Robinson are all worthy of a flame status this week with Jones and Henry having positive matchups for the rest of the season. But, for the sake of pickups and keeping true to the column, I will go with Cam and what may be his new status as lead back for the Rams. Cam is available in many leagues, especially if the leagues are shallow with 10 teams or less (53% owned in Yahoo leagues). His projection is low but a lot of those are off from him being in a committee throughout the season. He got a season high in carries and 7 of the 21 carries were inside the 10 yard line. The Rams love to run the ball to set up the play action pass and if Akers becomes the man in the backfield, it would be a plush place to be and good for fantasy team owners that place trust in that. The schedule is ok with the toughest opponent being the Seahawks in Week 16 in a rematch.
Cole Beasley – Buffalo Bills
Putting Beasley here is tough for me. He has been a great pickup for the last 3 weeks he’s played, even if he hasn’t seen targets. He did catch 9 of 11 targets with a TD last week and put me in striking distance of the playoffs. The problem is that he doesn’t see that many targets on average and it seems like it’s a pattern of every 3rd week, he hits a big week. This week the Bills get the Steelers coming off their first loss and I could see this game either as a blowout with the Bills coming in hot or a defensive slugfest. I’m leaning toward the slugfest this time and weather could play a part in that with rain likely. The schedule after that is middling with trips to Denver and New England bringing their own matchup problems and possible weather issues.
Jamison Crowder – New York Jets
This may be the first time that a Jets player has made the list! It is a worthy pick though with some solid things coming together for the Jets even though they are still winless. Darnold has come back with a solid start and has made Crowder his favorite target it seems. Ty Johnson looked good coming on for Gore after he left with a concussion. Even if Gore is available, it would be wise for the Jets to leave Ty in and ride it out. That kind of mojo on offense is good and it would keep some heat off of Crowder and the WRs if the running game is at least passable. The schedule is up and down with Seattle this week being the worst against the pass and the Rams next week being the best. Then throw in a Browns team that is sitting at 7th worst. Crowder is available for some with him being rostered in 69% of leagues in Yahoo but at 90% in Sleeper and 81% in ESPN. If he isn’t available to you and youre looking for a pickup, look at TY Hilton who has come back with a vengeance and has a plus matchup against Raiders or roll the dice with Sammy Watkins against Miami.
Logan Thomas – Washington Football Team
Logan had a big week against Pittsburgh and helped spring the upset, catching all nine of his targets and scoring a TD. If this is a trend and Thomas has become a part of Alex Smith’s passing game, then this pick will be a bust but I’m not putting my money on it yet. I’m thinking the injuries to the Pittsburgh D left a hole that Thomas was able to exploit and San Francisco isn’t quite as banged up even if they gave up 34 points against Buffalo. Washington definitely isn’t on Buffalo’s level and I think Thomas’ numbers will be back down this week.
Robert Tonyan – Green Bay Packers
There are a few players that could also be here in the Flame spot. If Mark Andrews comes back, he was in consideration. Noah Fant has a great matchup but QB play is always his biggest question mark. Robert, on the other hand, has a great matchup, a great QB and riding a three week scoring streak. There should be no reason that he shouldn’t be in the crosshairs again this week against Detroit and then with two more good matchup upcoming, it looks good for team owners that gave Tonyan a chance.
New York Giants
Yes, I think this defense has improved. Yes, I think this team has a chance to win this week. No, I don’t think that the defense will score double digit points again this week. I think that 2 sacks and 1 INT would be the most likely with a 27-23 victory being the best bet for the Giants and that would be around 7-8 points.
The New Orleans Saints may be the best pick for the Flame spot with its matchup with a fresh starting rookie in Jalen Hurts and Philly but since they are one of the most widely owned DEF in fantasy, I’m rolling with Carolina. Denver is a mess right now and Carolina has a reasonable good defense with a passible offense to boot, especially with CMC coming back this week. This looks like a really good pickup for those streaming defenses. If you don’t like Carolina, you can always go with Houston against the revolving QB carousel in Chicago.
Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers
The Packers may score straight TDs this week and coast home in the late game while running the ball. Points for Crosby could be limited to extra points or short FGs.
Rodrigo Blankenship – Indianapolis Colts
I wanted to stick with Koo again but he is too widely owned now being the K1 on the season with his amazing point output. Hot Rod on the other hand is looking at a favorable matchup and can still be found on the wire. If you can’t find him, look for Joey Slye.