Free-agent Forecast: Week 14

Free-agent Forecast: Week 14

Roster Management

Free-agent Forecast: Week 14

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Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team league formats, unless specifically stated. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.

Bye weeks: none

(Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

1-Week Plug & Play

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Should Fitzpatrick remain on your league’s wire, he makes for a fine one-week play against this divisional foe. New York has given up more than 26 fantasy points in three of the last six games: The guys incapable of topping 20 fantasy points were Dwayne Haskins, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton … not exactly an elite crop of talent. While FitzMagic is anything but elite, he’s capable of posting studly numbers at times. The last time these two met was Week 9, and he threw for 285 yards and a trio of scores (26.6 points). WR DeVante Parker is playing like a brand-new man, and the Dolphins are making the most of a suspect cast of weapons. That said, Fitz should be treated as a quality QB2 starter or a low-tier No. 1 play.

Availability: 60%
FAAB:
$2-3

Daniel Jones, New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Update: Jones (ankle) is not expected to play, making Eli Manning a low-tier consideration for owners in two-QB setups.

The rookie has been held under 20 fantasy points in three of the last four contests but had thrown only one interception in the four games leading up a three-INT mistake fest vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 13. It’s one of those “take the bad with the good” scenarios in fantasy … Philadelphia has granted quarterbacks multi-TD games on six occasions in 2019, including a three-score day to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 13. These teams haven’t met this season, and Jones is a risk-reward decision against a defensive unit that has permitted massive fantasy stats when it has been bad. Five different passers have at least 28 points vs. this group in ’19.

Availability: 52%
FAAB:
$1-2

Grab & stash

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week, I wrote Minshew was worth a stash since Nick Foles has done nothing to instill confidence that he can be “the guy.” We saw it play out exactly as suspected in Wee 13. There is enough tape on Foles to know what he is and isn’t, so giving Minshew a chance to further prove he is the future makes the most sense. The Jaguars face one of the easiest remaining fantasy schedules with matchups vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, at Oakland and at Atlanta in the upcoming weeks. Add him for depth or as a QB2 in leagues that allow/require utilization of more than one starting passers now that head coach Doug Marrone has publicly committed to Minshew Mania.

Availability: 61%
FAAB:
$0-1

(Thomas J. Russo, USA TODAY Sports)

Running Backs

priority free agents

Patrick Laird, Miami Dolphins

Kalen Ballage (leg) left Week 13 action and did not return. Laird stepped up for the second time in three weeks and is a must-add in all fantasy formats, especially in PPR scoring. Ballage was nothing more than a lotto ticket each week for a TD, and Laird is more of a pass-catching extension of the hand-off. In those two contests, he has 11 total targets and 10 receptions for 94 yards. Facing Philly in Week 13, Laird ran a Ballage-like 10 times for five yards and a TD. Miami faces the New York Jets and New York Giants — both at the Meadowlands — in the next two outings, followed by a Week 16 home tilt with Cincinnati.

Availability: 84%
FAAB:
$15-17

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

Tevin Coleman took a back seat after struggling to generate much of anything, and Mostert had little trouble posting career-best numbers vs. the Baltimore Ravens. While he’s a premium add this week, Mostert isn’t necessarily a must-start until we have a clearer understanding of what to expect from Matt Breida’s ankle injury. Should Breida return, the backfield gets even more convoluted, and it’s not like the matchup is particularly friendly at New Orleans. For now, add him and wait to see what the week of practice reveals for Breida. Coleman easily could reclaim the primary workload, although the hot hand usually wins out in a multi-back situation in which the players tend to be interchangeable.

Availability: 58%
FAAB:
$3-4

1-Week Plug & Play

Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs

The caveat here is two-fold: What is the diagnosis of Darrel Williams’ hamstring injury, and will the Chiefs get Damien Williams back on the field in Week 14? The point being, if either player returns, there’s no lineup-worthy value in Thompson. However, should both miss the contest, it’s pretty clear LeSean McCoy cannot do it alone. The New England Patriots host the Chiefs, and guarding checkdown passes is a major weakness for this defensive scheme.

Availability: 70%
FAAB:
$4-5

(Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)

Wide Receivers

priority free agents

1-Week Plug & Play

Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants

Look, it hasn’t been pretty for Agholor in the last two-plus months. Since Week 3, he hasn’t scored a touchdown, nor has the USC product tallied more than 42 yards of offense in any of those appearances. In the past two weeks, Carson Wentz has targeted him 15 times, resulting in an unmemorable seven catches for 81 yards in total. New York is the driving force behind this recommendation, and the injury to TE Zach Ertz also is a factor. The Giants have permitted 10 touchdowns to wideouts in the last five outings, and seven receivers in that time were good for at least 80 yards, while 11 managed double-digit PPR points.

Availability: 51%
FAAB:
$2-3

Marcus Johnson, Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This one depends mostly on the status of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) after he aggravated his injury in Week 12 and missed Week 13. The trip to Tampa brings on the best possible matchup to kick off the fantasy playoffs. The Bucs have yielded 10 scores to the position in the last five games, and four receivers have posted at least 114 yards in that time. Johnson is likely a total unknown to most fantasy gamers, but he has been more involved of late and is a worthwhile fantasy consideration for gamers in dire need of a flex. In all likelihood, he’s too unknown for most gamers to be willing to take the chance, but the matchup and his role present an opportunity. In the Colts’ last two games without Hilton, Johnson has been targeted an average of five times. He has produced at least 9.5 PPR points in each of those contests, and the Week 11 meeting with Jacksonville saw Johnson score a touchdown.

Availability: 99%
FAAB:
$1-2

Demaryius Thomas, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

Miami has granted 10 scores to the position in the last six games, or eight in the past five. Four receivers have gone over the century mark for yardage, and seven of the wideouts landed at least five balls — the most likely way Thomas will make a dent. Miami has conceded at least 19.4 PPR points to seven receivers since Week 7. Thomas, as mentioned, is hardly a threat for a touchdown, but if he’s ever going to score one in 2019, this ought to be the week. The veteran has at least five targets in seven of his last nine appearances, and he has snagged four or more balls in five of them. The combination of matchups and utilization makes Thomas a reasonable waiver add for a Week 14 PPR flex.

Availability: 63%
FAAB:
$1-2

Grab & stash

John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals

Update: Ross will play in Week 14, although gamers should still keep him in reserve until we see if he’s in game shape.

Two weeks ago, he resumed practicing and enters the final week before the Bengals have to either activate or keep him on IR. It wouldn’t hurt to stash him away ahead of the decision, especially with Andy Dalton back under center. The previous move to QB Ryan Finley was the driving force behind not including Ross in this space.

Availability: 78%
FAAB: $1-2

(Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)

Tight Ends

priority free agents

1-Week Plug & Play

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals

In Week 13, with Devlin Hodges starting at quarterback, McDonald landed all three of his targets for a paltry 21 yards. He has caught no more than three passes in any game since Week 9. Exciting stuff, huh? This one is all about the matchup, and, oh boy, is it ever an exploitable matchup! The Cardinals are on a historically bad pace for giving up fantasy points to the position, and we’ve seen an average of a score per game come against Arizona in the hands of tight ends in the last five battles. The season-long outlook is so much brighter: Thirteen of 79 catches by the position found paydirt, coming at a rate of once every six snags. McDonald is a hopeful play for a score from a volatile position.

Availability: 50%
FAAB:
$2-3

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders

Smith hasn’t much competition for touches at his position, yet he can’t seem to get the job done. The Titans have looked his way 13 times in the last four games, including a no-involvement Week 12. Smith should get back on track in Week 14 with such a good matchup for scoring. The Raiders have permitted only two scores to TEs in the last five games, but extending the view just two games adds three more trips to the end zone. The season-long peek reveals eight touchdowns against Oakland by tight ends. Smith caught nine of 10 looks for 142 yards and a score from Weeks 7-8, so it’s not like he has been a total scrub without Delanie Walker.

Availability: 61%
FAAB:
$1-2

Kaden Smith, New York Giants

This one is solely predicated on the Giants being without TE Evan Engram (foot) and TE Rhett Ellison (concussion) in Week 14. Smith scored in their absence in Week 12 and managed a line of 6-70-0 on eight looks in Week 13. The rookie is an athletic 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, and he would benefit even more if wideout Golden Tate (concussion) also misses the upcoming week. Don’t invest FAAB yet, but Smith is worth a late-week add if the injury report favors another game of starter’s involvement for him.

Availability: 98%
FAAB:
$0

Kickers

1-Week Plug & Play

Matt Prater, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Entering Week 13, Minnesota had given up 13 field goal attempts in the prior four outings. That’s the third-highest figure in the league and most among teams with only four games played. The veteran kicker as at least six fantasy points (non-distance scoring) in three of the last five weeks, and Prater has six three-point attempts in the past two games. The overall offensive efficacy issues makes Prater a viable PK1 without Matthew Stafford (back) on the field, presuming he indeed is out again.

Availability: 44%
FAAB:
$0-1

Matt Gay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts

The rookie has averaged a pair of field goal tries a game in the last five contests, and he has nailed all but one. The total number of extra points attempted sits at 16 in that window, and each one of those tries went through the pipes. Indianapolis has granted kickers at least seven fantasy points in four of the past five matchups, and 10 of the 11 three-point attempts in that time have connected. The Colts could slow Tampa’s offense just enough to stall out a few drives, and this defense isn’t quite known for its penchant to create turnovers.

Availability: 56%
FAAB:
$0-1

Defense/Specials Teams

1-Week Plug & Play

Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders

Tennessee has at least three sacks in four of the last five weeks, and the one week with only two sacks resulted in a defensive touchdown. Mike Vrabel’s bunch has generated two takeaways, on average, in that time frame. The Raiders has been one of the worst matchups most of the year for defenses, but protecting the ball hasn’t been a high priority in recent weeks. In the last three games, Oakland has lost three fumbles, thrown four interceptions (after just one in the previous six outings), and permitted a pair of defensive touchdowns. Quarterback Derek Carr has been sacked nine times in the last month.

Availability: 62%
FAAB:
$1-2

Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers

With zero sacks in the last two games, and no fumble recoveries since Week 5, Atlanta is a tough sell in any fantasy format. The defense has just eight interceptions on the year, although three-quarters of them have come in the past month. Carolina provided Atlanta its best fantasy day of 2019 in Week 11, giving up five sacks and throwing four picks. In addition, the Falcons managed a special teams return score in that contest. The Panthers have yielded 16 sacks in the past three games alone, committing seven turnovers in that window. The recommendation to play Atlanta is purely a bid to take advantage of the upside of the matchup.

Availability: 81%
FAAB:
$0-1

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