Welcome to Week 14 of the 2020 Footballguys' Roundtable. Our intrepid and oddball panel of fantasy pundits discuss and debate the practice of tanking in dynasty leagues, the most and least favorable fantasy matchups this weekend, and which recent fantasy newsmakers are playoff worthy or playoff teases.
- Best Fantasy Game in NFL for Week 14
- Worst Fantasy Game in NFL for Week 14
- Playoff Worthy Or Playoff Tease?
Matt Waldman: Should tanking be allowed in dynasty leagues? How does one enforce that tanking doesn't happen if your league is against it?
Andy Hicks: This all comes down to rules, how active people are, and the seriousness of the league. I personally have no issue with tanking, but if it’s the same owner year after year, it can get tiring. Then again, one less competitive owner.
If it’s a fun league, then simply adding a brutal punishment for tanking/coming last usually helps.
If the league is more serious then there are many ways to legislate a solution eg last doesn’t equal first pick. A lottery between the bottom three teams can occur. Ultimately if someone plays against the spirit of a league, removal of the manager should be an option. Much easier to get a new owner when they get told they have first pick. Hopefully, the league commissioner has a level head and can remove emotion and bias from any situation.
Will Grant: I agree with Andy that in dynasty/keeper leagues, you will always have the attitude of "I can't make the playoffs so may as well go for a better draft pick" mentality. It comes with the territory. For me, the key is you want owners who are engaged. You don't want teams to just auto-start the same lineup every week with injured or bye week players - that just gives a bad impression to all.
In any league, this type of thing can be resolved with a simple clause in the league rules/constitution. It's under the 'absent owner / no tanking' category and it should be as simple as 'the commissioner has the right to modify a team's weekly lineup in the event that an owner is inactive or chooses to start injured or inactive players'— something like this. You can also put in something about doing this multiple times can lead to penalties, up to and including removal from the league.
The key reason to have something in place is the league balance. It's easy to focus on the 'tanking' owner playing for next season but it can also impact this season— possibly giving a weaker team an extra win/playoff spot they didn't earn. This is why the commissioner needs to keep an eye on this sort of thing to make sure it doesn't upset the league balance.
If a team is actively tanking, they probably wouldn't defeat the top squads that season anyway, but if giving a weaker team an easy win gets them into the playoffs over someone who deserves it, the commissioner needs to step in and make a correction.
Adam Harstad: The reason most people oppose tanking is narrowly selfish. They want the top pick, but someone else is tanking, so that other person gets it instead. Or they want to make the playoffs, but their competitor is handed a free win against a team that didn't set a lineup, and that competitor makes the playoffs instead.
This is a bad reason to oppose tanking. Fantasy is zero-sum. There are only six playoff spots, there's only one 1.01 pick, and every action every team takes changes who gets those. This is why leagues shouldn't allow trade vetoes, because often other teams will veto perfectly fair trades just because they hurt their odds of making the playoffs or getting the 1.01.
Sure, the GMs hurt by tanking are worse off, but the GMs who are helped by tanking is better off to an exactly equal degree, and everything offsets. This is why you'll see pro-tanking teams justify it in terms of their own selfish interests; "I paid my dues, I should be able to run my team as I see fit", or "this is the thing that gives me the best chance of winning a title in the long run."
Selfish interest makes terrible policy. But there are two much stronger cases against tanking, IMO.
First: why do we award the top pick to the team with the worst record? It's a parity mechanism. We want to make it easier for bad teams to get better, so we give the best picks to the worst teams.
If a not-the-worst team tanks its way to the 1.01, this subverts that aim. And that's bad because parity mechanisms make leagues more interesting and competitive, they make it more likely you'll retain GMs, and they make it easier to replace GMs if one decides to quit anyway. We "like" those parity mechanisms, which is why we built them into the league in the first place, and we should take a dim view of any attempts to circumvent them.
The second reason tanking is bad is because it makes the league less fun on the net. This is easiest to illustrate with a hypothetical. Because the draft position is relative, tanking only helps provided you do it earlier and harder than your competition. This means tanking is an arms race, with teams competing to out-tank each other to secure any advantage.
Imagine a league where four teams all decide before the season started that they had no chance at winning it all, so they all refrained from setting a lineup all year long. Literally, a third of the league scored literally zero points on the season. From each individual perspective, this is optimal: Setting a lineup even once risks dropping them from the 1.01 pick down to the 1.04. It's not worth it.
From the perspective of the league as a whole, is this optimal? Or let me ask it differently: Does this seem like a fun league to play in?
What if six teams are tanking and the other six teams are guaranteed a playoff spot and the first 13 weeks of the season are virtually meaningless for everyone, with byes determined in large part by which team gets the most double-headers against tanking teams (and therefore the freest wins) and the only benefit for the tanking teams being a 1-in-6 shot at the top pick? Does that seem like the kind of league you'd want to play in?
Tanking makes the league less fun. It makes the weekly matchups less interesting. It's really easy to see in hypotheticals like this where there's a lot of tanking because a lot of tanking makes the league a lot less fun. But a little bit of tanking makes the league a little bit less fun, too.
And tanking begets more tanking. When one team starts tanking, the competitors for the 1.01 will often start tanking to try to keep pace. When one team gets more brazen (starting injured players or players on bye), other teams compete to match or even exceed them.
This is not really all that fun for anyone. And at the end of the day, isn't "fun" the thing we should be trying to optimize here? Isn't that the reason we're playing?
Allowing tanking creates a situation called the tragedy of the commons, where everyone doing what is best for them makes everyone worse off, including themselves. And the only way to solve the tragedy of the commons problems is through central action. In other words, by creating rules against the behavior in question.
I have a pair of evergreen articles I link to a lot around this time of the year that delves more into the problem of tanking. The first is a primer on what it is (no, trading veterans for future rookie picks isn't tanking) and on why people do it (misaligned incentives). The second goes over steps leagues can take to combat it (most effectively by changing incentives).
If people just want one high-level takeaway, the easiest solution is this: stop awarding draft position based on the win-loss record and start awarding it based on potential points, which is how many points each team would have scored if this were a best-ball league. Now winning games doesn't hurt bad teams, so they're free to try. And benching studs wouldn't help draft position anyway, because their score still gets counted.
It's not perfect; no solution is. Lotteries weaken the "parity mechanism" aspect, for instance, and with potential points sometimes you'll see a team on the playoff bubble despite a low potential point total intentionally lose games for a dramatic improvement in draft position.
That's why no rule should stand on its own. Instead, commissioners should communicate why those rules exist and attempt to create a shared set of values. Without enough buy-in from the rest of the league, rules would be insufficient. With enough buy-in, rules would be unnecessary.
Fantasy football feels like a competitive activity, but at its deepest level, it is a purely cooperative one. I join a league with 11(+/-) other people. We are accountable only to each other. We are nominally competitors, but ultimately we are working together to create the best possible shared experience for us and us alone. League rules should focus on that in particular, on taking that shared experience and making it the best one possible for all involved.
Waldman: I knew you wouldn't disappoint on this topic, Adam. Excellent answer and I would love to incorporate some of these rules in some dynasty leagues where I play. I understand the desire for an individual to tank, but as an individual, I'm too competitive to do it. Even when I have a team that's in the middle of a losing season, I do everything I can to win that week.
It's more rewarding to win a dynasty league after you've spent some time building it and working hard to compete each week. Anecdotally, I've found that when you compete hard each week, you're more likely to come upon players from the waiver wire who actually help your teams long-term. I have an excellent dynasty team that I built from a bottom-dweller and struggled to reach contender status for 3-4 years before this recent four-year run it's on right now.
Many of the key players I use were free agents I've added during the difficult years including Adam Thielen, Chris Jones, Brandon Graham, and Kyle Van Noye. Sure, many of these are defensive players who tend to be easier to find on the waiver wire in IDP formats, but in other leagues, I've found offensive players the caliber of Thielen on the waiver wire in the past including Robby Anderson, Marvin Jones Jr, and Robert Tonyan Jr, and it accelerated my teams' development.
Thanks again for sharing, Adam.
Grant: Adam might be Matt's favorite roundtable responder. Why give a 50-word response when a 500-word one can be had.
Waldman: Or a thoughtful one that isn't derivative...
Grant: I do agree that tanking makes leagues less fun. We've all played in leagues where one or more owners have bailed on the season. Those teams are like going to the laundry mat. If you're the person who plays the dead team, you feel like you found an extra $20 bill in the dryer. Everyone else in the league feels like the other people who are quietly jealous that they didn't choose that dryer first...
Mark Schofield: Answers to this probably depend in large part on how competitive and serious the league is. If the league is basically a substitution for getting friends together during your younger years when it was easier to do so, then allowing tanking is ok and perhaps a ridiculous penalty for the team finishing last in the league is warranted such as buying the beers for the next draft, forcing someone to buy a Trace McSorley jersey if they finish in last place, etc.
The more serious the league, the bigger the potential exists for people to get bent out of shape over it. If big money is involved and tanking teams end up disrupting the competitive imbalance, then the urge to impose sanctions or outright bans on the practice is going to rise.
Tanking teams that ease the way for the weaker teams to get into the playoffs over stronger teams that might miss out, that is going to be a problem. As always, commissioners face tough decisions and might need to step in if a tanking team is starting players on byes, injured players, etc. Docking someone that first-round pick they tanked for is severe, but would send a message.
B.J. VanderWoude: I am against tanking in all fantasy league formats, but especially in dynasty league formats where draft picks are a function of where you finish in the league standings from the previous year. We have become accustomed to accepting that there are factors out of our control associated with fantasy football, but one of those things should not be allowing teams to purposely impact which teams make the playoffs, which is exactly what tanking does.
Upsetting morale in your league can lead to manager turnover, and that is something that I would look to avoid in dynasty formats, as it takes so much of the fun out of the league.
As mentioned by others, docking draft picks is one solution. The other solution is to go in the other direction and try to offer incentives for managers to stay engaged all season long. One suggestion would be to offer weekly prizes.
Drew Davenport: I don't think I can add much to what Adam said, and I won't try, but I have a couple of things I would amplify.
I don't think tanking should be allowed, but I also agree with Adam in the fact that trying to improve future draft picks by trading veterans is far from tanking. I don't have a ton of dynasty experience, but six or so years ago in two leagues where I'm the commissioner, I made two significant changes that were overdue. I eliminated trade review, and I moved back the trade deadline in the quasi-dynasty (think "heavy keeper" or "dynasty-lite" where we keep 1/3 of our roster year over year) league I run.
The reason I bring these up is that I did so not with a set of rules for conduct nor with a strong-worded new rule for people to refer to, instead, I did what Adam said, I tried to create a sense of community and shared values over the decision. I essentially said to my leagues, "This is what we're doing, and in this league, we are a serious group of players and we don't cheat. That means no tanking, no collusion, and no nonsense." What people understood is that we all want to compete, and compete hard, and we want to win the right way. I've had zero problems.
However, that doesn't always work, and I understand that. I think, though, that with the way I run the leagues the understanding between everyone is simple: Play silly games with the league and screw around and you won't be asked back. As I said, we've had no problems. I feel like it's a nice balance between carrot-and-stick and it's worked well.
Andrew Garda: I strongly dislike the idea of tanking in a fantasy league but if you don’t have commissioner-managed/approved trades, I don’t know how you control it outside of kicking someone out for repeated offenses. Like Will, as long as the manager is competitive, I’m fine. At least try.
I think you really don’t know how you get rid of tanking save for having people in who will be ultra-competitive even if they are out of it and enjoy being a spoiler.
Michael Brown: Our simplest solution to tanking has been to reverse-engineer the draft lottery. The teams who make the playoffs pick at the back end of the first round. But the lottery is based on the order of finish from best to worst of the teams who didn’t make it.
So if 6 teams make the playoffs in a 12-team league, the 7th place team has the best chance at the top pick in the draft, followed by 8-12. Then the 6th place team goes 7th, with the 1st place team picking last. Keeps everyone fighting for a playoff spot if they’re on the bubble, and if they miss out at least they are rewarded with a higher pick, not lower. Has worked great for over a decade.
Grant: I like it.
VanderWoude: Great solution.
Waldman: Love, it Michael.
Garda: I'll have to try that.
Best NFL Games for Fantasy in Week 14
Waldman: Share that match up and answer the following:
- Give me a less obvious option worth starting who might be on your bench or waiver wire who might outperform a lot of fantasy starters you might consider.
- Give me an obvious starter who might underperform in this game and you would consider benching.
Hicks: I like the Texans at the Bears this week. Both teams are playing optional defense and really are in the no-mans-land portion of the season.
Chicago has been poor against tight ends this season. They have conceded nine touchdowns and in every game but two have allowed a touchdown or 60 receiving yards to a player, sometimes both. One of those two games was against Tampa Bay where the three Tight Ends combined for over 100 yards and the other side was Carolina who don’t pass to their tight ends.
I said this last week and will say it again, Brandin Cooks will underperform. He will be targeted again as the name-brand receiver while Keke Coutee, Chad Hansen, etc., will be matched up against a struggling secondary. Cooks needs either great scheming on offense or single coverage against non-elite defensive backs to be at his best.
By my count, there are six wide receivers that could be in play for this game. Stefon Diggs, Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis. The least obvious answer of the six is Davis, but he is a play who is gaining traction each week that John Brown is out. During the past two weeks, Davis has played 61 and 70 snaps and has caught six passes on eight targets for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns.
While Pittsburgh boasts a top 10 passing defense, they have allowed quite a bit of production from No.2 and No.3 wide receivers. Cam Sims (6-92), Ceedee Lamb (4-71-1), Willie Snead IV (5-106), Myles Boykin (2-20-1), Tee Higgins (7-115-1), Rashard Higgins (1-13-1), Randall Cobb (4-95-1), Corey Davis (6-35-1), Travis Fulgham (10-152-1) and Darius Slayton (6-102-2), all enjoyed some of their best fantasy performances against the Pittsburgh secondary.
If you think that Josh Allen will pass for at least one touchdown, then the percentages are heavily in favor of it going to either Beasley or Davis. In every game that Davis has seen four or more targets, he's either had five catches, topped 90 yards receiving, or scored a touchdown. His low-target volume suggests a boom or bust wide receiver, but with opposing defenses paying so much attention to Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Cole Beasley, this is a perfect setup for Davis to deliver the way he has the last two weeks.
On the opposite side of the ball, things are the exact opposite for the Buffalo defense. No.1 wide receivers have feasted on Buffalo's secondary. Jamison Crowder (7-115-1), Devante Parker (5-53-1), Robert Woods (5-74-1), Nelson Agholor (4-44-1), AJ Brown (7-82-1), DK Metcalf (7-108-1), Deandre Hopkins (7-127-1), Keenan Allen (4-41-1), Brandon Aiyuk (5-95-1) all scored touchdowns against Buffalo's secondary. Buffalo has allowed only 10 passing touchdowns on the season, and two passing touchdowns in only two games, but eight of those have gone to opposing No. wide receivers.
This makes me very skeptical to play Chase Claypool, but the sneaky bad play is Dionte Johnson. Johnson leads Pittsburgh in targets and yards, but looking at the type of wide receivers who have excelled against Buffalo, JuJu Smith-Schuster fits the mold more than Johnson and plays on the outside. It's going to be tough to bench Claypool or Johnson this week, but the odds are against either earning the type of production they've enjoyed so far this season.
Grant: Well it seems sort of obvious— but looking at the line on the Seattle—New York Jets game this week, this seems like the potential for some interesting fantasy numbers.
Both teams are coming off embarrassing losses - Seattle hurt their playoff chances by dropping a very winnable game against the 4-7 New York Giants and the Jets looked like they would finally win a game, only to give up a 46-yard touchdown bomb with 13 seconds left in the game.
In the 'can't believe I'm recommending him to start' category, I'd target Jamison Crowder. Before the game against Las Vegas, Crowder had just six receptions over the previous three games. But against the Raiders, he had five catches on seven targets, including two touchdowns. With Seattle having the worst pass defense in the league, and the Jets expected to be down early, Crowder should see plenty of action again this week, even in garbage time.
As for players you might want to consider benching, Chris Carson has a solid game with over 110 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Giants, but don't expect the same stats against the Jets. Aside from their pass defense being soft, the Jets don't give up much to opposing running backs. They haven't given up more than 50 yards rushing to a back since Week 9 when Damien Harris earned 71 yards and Rex Burkhead generated 56 more, and have only allowed one 100-yard rushing game, which was to Melvin Gordon III in Week 4. Seattle should take full advantage of the Jets' poor secondary, giving Carson and any other Seattle runner limited opportunities in this game.
Davenport: The Tampa Bay/Minnesota game looks like a good one. The totals for this game are near the highest on the slate at 51.5 points. We get a Tampa Bay team coming off a bye where they can regroup, work on their weaknesses, and get ready to face a Vikings defense that can be beaten. Minnesota should also be able to move the ball, as the Bucs have been lit up by quarterbacks in recent weeks.
To that end, Kirk Cousins is a less obvious option who deserves consideration for a start here. Since Week 6 when they owned Aaron Rodgers, the Buccaneers defense has surrendered more than two touchdowns to every quarterback they've faced, and in those six games, they've surrendered more in three scores in four of them.
On the other hand, the Tampa Bay run defense is downright stifling. Since they allowed Christian McCaffrey to post 24 PPR points in Week 2, they have only allowed two running backs to go over 13 points, and have allowed zero games of over 44 yards rushing to any single back since McCaffrey's 59 in Week 2.
Dalvin Cook draws the unfortunate position of facing this run defense in the first round of the playoffs. It's really hard to bench such a good player like Dalvin Cook, but it's definitely a conversation with the track record the Tampa Bay defense has.
Garda: The Detroit Lions Defense ranks way down the list in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and while that’s not everything, they have the ugly stats to back it up. They average 241 yards against through the air and Mitch Trubisky just lit them up for 267 yards and a touchdown, 318 and four touchdowns by DeShaun Watson, and 258 and a touchdown to PJ Walker. They did pick Walker off twice but it’s not pretty.
With that in mind, I am intrigued by Robert Tonyan Jr Jr, who has seen consistent targets and a touchdown each of the last three weeks.
I suspect the Lions will do all they can to stop Davante Adams and while that will be completely, spectacularly unsuccessful, Aaron Rodgers will look to one of the guys he has looked to consistently over the last three weeks, and that is Tonyan.
D’Andre Swift was a surefire starter before a concussion knocked him for a loop, but I think you avoid him this week. Yes, you can move the ball on Green Bay, but Swift was limited on Wednesday and I think the team will be cautious this week, and you’ll see a lot of Adrian Peterson coming off back-to-back two-touchdown games.
Worst NFL Games for Fantasy in Week 14
Waldman: Share that match up and answer the following:
- Give me a less obvious option worth starting who might be on your bench or waiver wire who might outperform a lot of fantasy starters you might consider.
- Give me an obvious starter who might underperform in this game and you would consider benching.
Grant: While Baltimore at Cleveland has some great NFL playoff potential, it's going to be a potential landmine of players from a fantasy perspective.
Baltimore easily dismantled the Cowboys on Tuesday night, but they struggled against Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and New England the previous three weeks. Cleveland has won all four games since coming back from their bye week, but people still keep asking if they are for real since all four of those wins were by six points or fewer.
Austin Hooper didn't figure much into the big win last week, and he's been missing in action for most of the season. But a sneaky play this week against the Ravens might be in order. The Ravens are tough on defense but have given up four or more receptions to opposing tight ends in their last three games. Hooper should see more action this week than he has in the previous three games, and he's a waiver wire pickup in most leagues right now.
By contrast, Rashard Higgins is coming off his best fantasy game all season with six receptions, 95 yards, and a touchdown. But against the Ravens, he probably won't have a repeat performance. The Ravens have allowed just 2 receivers to cross the 100-yard mark all season, and are #2 in the league allowing just 9.8 yards per reception. Expect a tough day for any Cleveland wide receiver.
Schofield: Is anyone going to pay attention to Cincinnati versus Dallas? Even the involved players might avoid that one.
Dalton Schultz is the main tight end option for the Cowboys right now, and the Bengals defense, which has been bad overall, has been particularly bad against that position. Right now Cincinnati is allowing 10 or more points per game to tight ends (depending on scoring format) this season, third-worst in the league. Schultz has seen a decent amount of targets this season and could have a bit game against Cincinnati.
I'm not sure this game has any "obvious starters," but Tyler Boyd might not put up the kind of numbers he has this season against Dallas simply because the Cowboys' run defense is so porous, the Bengals might run the ball three hundred times. Man, this game is depressing, let's move on.
VanderWoude: I have to agree that the Cowboys vs Bengals game is the most challenging fantasy game for Week 14. Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley have turned what was a fun and productive group of wide receivers into a complete fantasy wasteland with their awful quarterback play. Andy Dalton's return to Cincinnati might be a triumphant one given how bad the Bengals have looked the last several weeks, but with nothing to play for, who knows how motivated the Cowboys will be.
Still, I think Dalton is an interesting play this week if you are desperate for a quarterback. I know, it is a stretch but Dalton has been allowed to sling the ball the last couple of weeks, and his volume combined with the fact that he will be certainly be motivated in his return to Cincinnati and the Bengals subpar secondary, all make for an interesting narrative. There is nothing I like more than a revenge narrative for fantasy purposes, and Dalton has the talent at wide receiver to go nuts if things fall into place.
The obvious fantasy starter that you have to sit, is well, obvious, and that is Tyler Boyd. Boyd's production has dropped off drastically after losing Joe Burrow for the season. Don't let last week fool you, Boyd's breakaway touchdown came on a broken play, and while that is possible given the Cowboys defensive struggles, I still trust the Dallas defense more than I do Allen or Finley.
Boyd was also ejected from last week's game after getting into a fight with Xaiver Howard, so you can see the frustration building with him. I don't blame him, Boyd was enjoying a breakout season as the Bengals No.1 option and building a fantastic rapport with Burrow. I think there are some #4 fantasy receivers that I would trust more in a playoff matchup than Boyd at this point, although it is of no fault of his own.
Hicks: Washington v San Francisco has me thinking of watching the grass grow instead. Washington has been playing solid football for longer than their winning streak. It is primarily focused on strong defense and management of the football on offense. The 49ers can’t play the Rams every week so the depth of this franchise on defense is being exposed on a regular basis.
It’s a tough game to pull a player from the depths and after his effort against the Steelers it isn’t out of nowhere, but Cam Sims was admirable recording 5-92 including a few vital catches. With defenses rightfully focusing on Terry McLaurin, Sims could have another better than expected performance.
There aren’t many obvious starters in this game. The quarterbacks in Alex Smith and Nick Mullens should only be considered in two-QB leagues. Antonio Gibson will be under an injury cloud, while Raheem Mostert and co will be up against a strong Washington front.
At receiver, the only obvious starter is Terry McLaurin. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are flex options in this matchup. The tight ends aren't worth a mention in this game, but if they did the 49ers and Washington play the position incredibly well on defense. I can’t recommend against McLaurin here.
Garda: I’m with Mark, the Cowboys/Bengals looks like a mess to me as well. Losing Joe Burrow I think has sapped the team of any offensive capability and while Andy Dalton has been occasionally serviceable, but overall I haven’t seen much that makes me want in on this.
Mark went Dallas, so I’ll go Bengals for this one, and say Drew Sample/ The tight end did good work last week and proved himself to be reliable, catching all of his targets. Tight ends vs Dallas have been shaky, but Cincinnati is a bit short on weapons and Sample has acquitted himself well the last few weeks.
I believe he has some nice upside to exploit, and if you are looking for a starter at this time of year, the upside is what you need.
Admittedly, Amari Cooper is coming off a pair of productive games, and he still garners a lot of targets. However he’s been pretty scattershot this season, in large part because so has his quarterback, but with Mike Gallup emerging and CeeDee Lamb playing well, I feel like the balance is shifting, and if you were playing him automatically I feel like this is a week to avoid that.
Playoff Worthy Or Playoff Tease?
Matt Waldman: Pick one tease and one worthwhile option from the list below in leagues starting 1 QB, 2-3 RBs, 3-4 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 RB/WR/TE Flex. PPR scoring:
Discuss your choices.
Schofield: None of these are good options. Matt, are you in a bad mood this week? Did we do something to annoy you? Are punishing us with these questions?.
Waldman: Ha! I'm basing these off player questions I get from readers in leagues. It has been an unusual year after all.
Schofield: They're in tougher formats than I, that's for sure. Of these picks, I'd roll the dice with Chad Hansen because of the simple process of elimination. With Josh Gordon, as much as we hope for the best, he is not the player he once was, and the reliability is a huge question mark. Booker gets a stout Colts' defense this week, as pointed out earlier Collin Johnson is going to compete for targets.
And then there is Jalen Hurts, who is starting because Carson Wentz is broken. The rookie's reward? Playing against one of the league's best defenses in his first start, and then another tough defense next week if he gets a second start in the Arizona Cardinals. When they put Hurts into the game Philadelphia was forced to run base offensive designs, and it is hard to expect they will have a ton of new stuff installed for him by kickoff.
Grant: Josh Gordon was reinstated, and is eligible to play in the final two games of the season. But for most fantasy teams, that's the Super Bowl or their fantasy championship. If you've made it this far, are you really going to trust one of your starting positions to a guy who hasn't played all season? I'm sure he'll be a hot waiver wire pick-up in some leagues, but if you have a team that is capable of making the final game in your league, you probably have a lot better options than Josh Gordon.
Chad Hansen may be worth a spot, though. With Will Fuller V missing the rest of the season due to suspension. Hansen performed well last week against a stingy Indianapolis defense, posting five receptions for 101 yards. Houston's next three games are against Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, and the Texans are going to need wins in all of them if they hope to make it into the playoffs. Hansen is definitely worth a roster spot.
VanderWoude: Of the three wide receivers on this list, the most playoff-worthy of the bunch would have to be Chad Hansen. It is an interesting choice given that Hansen was just activated off the practice squad, but not only did he have 5 catches for 101 yards, but he also led the team in snaps—59 of 64 possible offensive plays.
The snap count matters most to me here, because that is what is going to dictate his production. We've seen Deshaun Watson turn quite a few wide receivers into viable starters, and more importantly, he has the weekly volume to sustain several pass catchers.
The playoff tease for me is Josh Gordon. He will not become eligible to play until the final two weeks of the season, which for most leagues will be either the semi-final or the finals. With no prior analysis to go on, that would be a very bold choice to play Gordon in that important of a matchup.
I'm not willing to bet my fantasy season on Gordon in his first game back, especially when he has D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett in front of him, and that is assuming he has the leg up on David Moore, which I'm also skeptical of. Gordon's talent has never been in question, but with your season on the line, he makes for a very dubious start at best.
Davenport: In the rush to add and start Devontae Booker last week we forget to ask ourselves whether he's actually any good. I ended up starting him in a couple of spots last week, but the matchup against New York wasn't as good as it seemed from season-long statistics and Booker struggled.
He comes up against the stout Colts run defense this week, before drawing an easier matchup against Los Angeles (A) in Week 15. The problem is, we aren't getting much of a clue from Jon Gruden about when starter Josh Jacobs is due back so this is a risky proposition. I wouldn't want to start Booker this week, and then he's iffy for a workload in Week 15.
The chemistry between Chad Hansen and Deshaun Watson was evident right out of the gate in Week 13. Randall Cobb remains sidelined and isn't expected back very soon, and Will Fuller V is done for the year. Hansen isn't going anywhere. He played the most snaps of all the wide receivers in Week 13, and he attributed his work this offseason with Watson as the reason for their connection in his first game. I'm adding Hansen wherever possible. Week 16 against Cincinnati looks mighty nice.
Hicks: Can I pick none of the above as a worthwhile option?
Waldman: Of course.
Hicks: Josh Gordon has proven unreliable as an NFL player. Sure he may go off, but he is just as likely to miss a game or year or post 1-10
Devontae Booker would be the player I would pick if I had to, but not with any confidence. Josh Jacobs could be back this week, plus the Raiders aren’t playing very well anyway. Booker himself is just a guy.
Chad Hansen is in a great situation, but we have seen so many one week players this year you have to hope for the best and expect the worst. I would use him this week if the cupboard was otherwise bare.
Collin Johnson has too much competition for touches and essentially you are hoping garbage time comes to the rescue.
Jalen Hurts will be slaughtered against the Saints. It is the move of a side desperate to find a spark.
Waldman: I will note that Collin Johnson outperformed D.J. Chark Jr against the Vikings this week and was targeted all day during a competitive game. I'll also add that Jalen Hurts is a different caliber player than, say, the Cowboys' third- and fourth-stringers who got slaughtered behind a bad offensive line.
He's every bit the prospect Taysom Hill is as a passer, and not far from him as a runner, but has less experience. The plus side is that NFL teams have no experience against him, which leads to defenses lacking a specific game plan against him which leads to them using coverage looks that the quarterback can plan for based on the previous weeks of film.
That said, I agree that Hurts is in a rough situation and ability alone doesn't make a quarterback a good matchup. His best shot is garbage time production and a lot of it coming as a runner.