It ends up that the Steelers are mortal, and all it took was the worst team that they had yet faced to visit. Injuries were very low last week and that’s not uncommon. They say everybody who is going to get hurt, already has. And by this point of the season, everyone is hurt on some level and just dealing with it.
COVID-19 is a bigger deal each week and has proven to be a problem since it’s hard to know if a person is on the lost with a positive test or were just in contact with someone who had. Hard to know when they are coming off the list and what shape they are in because it is not a part of the official injury report.
Fantasy playoffs have started in large contests and will happen in fantasy leagues this week and next. We’ve made it through 13 weeks without missing any games, and only a few fantasy-relevant players were impacted. Let’s hope it all lasts just three more weeks.
Six things to think about for Week 14:
RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – Just when you think you can use that first draft pick, “nope”. McCaffery missed six games with an ankle injury, played Week 9, injured his shoulder and right when it looks like he’ll be back, he hurts his quad. Mike Davis was a life-saver if he could be reached by the McCaffrey owner. That probably did not happen in most leagues. That made me look at the five year history of where the No. 1 running back ended up the next season.
2019 – Christian McCaffrey, 2020 = No. 42 (currently)
2018 – Saquon Barkley, 2019 = No. 10
2017 – Todd Gurley, 2018 = No. 3
2016 – David Johnson, 2017 = No. 111
2015 – Devonta Freeman, 2016 = 6
2014 – Le’Veon Bell, 2015 = 48
If there’s any consolation (and there isn’t), McCaffrey had monster performances in all three games that he played. But top running backs have a spotty track record the next year anyway.
- WR Keke Coutee (HOU) – Okay, so now we know how Will Fuller remained healthy this year. Now that his season is over, Coutee moved up to the No. 2 role and reeled off eight catches for 141 yards against the Colts last week. The Texans face the Bears in Chicago and it will be interesting to see what he can do there. Coutee spends Week 15 against the Colts again and then the fantasy Championship versus the Bengals. I’d still contend that anyone playing with Deshaun Watson is a player worth owning.
- RB Cam Akers (LAR) – He just rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards. The only other backfield touches were two carries by Darrell Henderson. I have to comment – “where has that been?” As every optimistic Akers’ owner can attest, he never had more than ten carries in any game through Week 11 and was mysteriously not even used in several games despite being productive the previous week. Perhaps the is the newest version of the Rams Tyler Higbee who blew up down the stretch in 2019, only to hide back under his rock. Akers looked great, but his previous usage looks even harder to understand.
Washington Football Team Backfield – Antonio Gibson injured his toe last week and has yet to practice. He’s been a nice surprise with 11 touchdowns but looks likely to miss at least this week. The Football Team averages about 30 touches per game from the backfield and that now shrinks to just Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic. They face the 49ers’ tough defense this week, but if Gibson remains out, the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs has them at home against the Seahawks and then Panthers. Those are two of the softer defenses versus running backs. This Sunday will indicate which back is the better option.
Top 10 Free Agent Running Backs 2021 – The important part of the final four games for these players is looking good enough for a big 2021 contract (from someone) and how they are used can be telling as to if a team intends to re-sign them or let them walk.
They are mostly the same age, finishing up that rookie contract or coming off a one-year deal. This is not a time for any of them to play poorly or sit a game out if they can possibly play.
Top 20 Free Agent Wide Receivers 2021
This is always interesting, because like the running backs, each player has a huge stake in what they do over the final weeks of their season since they need to sell themselves.
But also interesting is what happens on their teams with other receivers. Many of the above teams are trying out newer players and that may play into their decision to re-sign or let them go. The Lions are in a notable situation. Not only are they looking for a new head coach, but none of their current starting wideouts are signed beyond this year. Kenny Golladay cannot stay healthy. Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are heading into their 30’s. Each of the pending free agents will be interesting to track for the final month.