Congratulations everyone! You have passed the first grueling test. After thirteen weeks of non-stop ascent, we’ve reached a clearing where we can all exhale and stretch those weary bones. Grab a mug of tea and admire just how far we’ve come. We used to squabble over whether Chris Godwin and Mike Evans could both be top 10 WRs. Some of us thought it was wise to draft Antonio Brown. Some of us thought Josh Gordon was a league winner.
And yet, we’re all here. Still striving for the ultimate destination. If you’ve made it, chances are that you don’t need a ton of help off the wire in week 14. That’s good, as there isn’t much available to you. Like the oxygen up high on the mountain, difference makers are scarce as we head into the fantasy playoffs.
Priority will be classified in 4 ways:
HIGH – immediate starter on most teams and trade bait at worst; be aggressive!
MEDIUM – probable FLEX-level starter right now; add if you have need at the position.
LOW – still a lottery ticket, but showing signs of growth; add if you have bench room.
FREE – likely can add post-waivers without using FAAB or priority if your league allows.
Players with “PPR+” designation mean they will be extra useful in formats that reward receptions.
First Aid Kit
Players set to inherit a bigger role due to injury
Darwin Thompson, RB, KC (priority MEDIUM pending both D. Williams’ status) – Kudos to the 5% of managers on ESPN who still have Thompson rostered 13 weeks after he was inactive to start the season. The preseason hype bunny out of Utah State doubled his season carry total on Sunday with 11 totes for 44 yards. I was going to write it off as garbage time nonsense but he may be the RB2 for Kansas City this week against the Patriots.
Damien Williams didn’t practice all week with a mysterious rib injury and Darrel Williams left the game after a non-contact knee injury. That leaves LeSean McCoy and Darwin as the two backs this week. With the Chiefs clearly trying to manage Shady’s workload, Darwin could get some real run in week 14. I wouldn’t be surprised with 10-12 touches, making him a low end FLEX play is you’re in dire straits.
Zach Pascal, WR, IND (priority MEDIUM pending the status of TY Hilton, PPR+) – Another Hilton-less game results in double digit targets for Pascal. He’s clearly the WR1 on Indy when Hilton isn’t around, and he produces when that’s the case. In 4 games without Hilton and with Brissett, Pascal has averaged a 4.5-68.5 line. It’s not earth shattering but that will play as WR3/FLEX and the Colts get the Buccaneers next.
Ian Thomas, TE, CAR (priority LOW pending Greg Olsen’s status) – The former 4th round draft pick may find himself in a starter’s role this week. Greg Olsen left the game on Sunday with a probably concussion so if he enters the protocol, Thomas stands to benefit. The Panthers’ backup caught 4 passes for 24 yards and boasts an electric athletic profile.
Kyle Allen isn’t exactly an inspiring QB to be attached to, but if you were counting on Olsen this isn’t a bad substitute. However, if available I like a TE later in this writeup. I will add that for dynasty, grab Thomas now as the entire Panthers organization is due for a shakeup and he would be an interesting piece for a new regime to utilize.
Kaden Smith, TE, NYG (priority LOW pending Evan Engram’s status) – Smith has come on with Evan Engram shelved and seen 6 and 8 targets the last 2 weeks. He had a TD in week 12 and 70 yards as an encore in week 13. I don’t feel nearly as excited about Smith as I do Gesecki because I think the upside is limited as a true in-line type TE. However, you could do worse if in a pinch for Round 1 of the fantasy playoffs.
High calorie options to grab for a boost
Drew Lock, QB, DEN (priority MEDIUM in multi-QB leagues) – He was probably proactively scooped up in some dual QB leagues as rumors of his activation swirled leading up to this week 13 tilt against the Chargers. Amazingly, the Broncos beat the Bolts and Lock threw 2 touchdowns in the effort. Despite giving Courtland Sutton some highlight opportunities, Lock’s day was pretty pedestrian ending with 18-28 for just 134 yards and a 2/1 TD/INT ratio.
The biggest takeaway is that if you’ve been relying on Sutton, you can continue to do so. Lock would be a shaky start even as a QB2 in the fantasy playoffs although he does get premium meetings with the Texans, Chiefs and Lions to end the year.
Gardner Minshew, QB, JAX (priority HIGH in multi-QB leagues) – He’s probably rostered in dynasty formats but there is a chance he was dropped in multi-QB redraft leagues. This is a nudge to go check those wires to make sure he’s not around. The Jags benched Mr. Moneybags Nick Foles for the rookie at halftime and would be best served just seeing what Minshew can do. Their playoff schedule looks tasty as well – Rams, Raiders, Falcons.
Raheem Mostert, RB, SF (priority MEDIUM) – Despite the article title, I only put his priority as medium. This game confused me and I don’t know what to make of the Niners backfield going forward. Tevin Coleman was ineffective on the soggy turf, but didn’t appear to go down with any injury. Instead, Mostert just developed a scorching hand and torched the Ravens’ defense for 154 yards and a touchdown on 21 touches.
He saw a whopping 65% of San Francisco’s carries and frankly looked amazing doing it. Even if you take out his long run of 40 yards he still went 18-106 against a stout Baltimore defense. Maybe Mostert is just a mudder. Maybe this is the beginning of a new lead 49er back. The game was so unique because of the weather, so perhaps Shanahan just saw something he liked this week. But Mostert certainly worth an add because a lead back in this offense is appetizing.
Jordan Wilkins, RB, IND (priority LOW) – #ZeroRB darling Jonathan Williams saw his two game streak of 100 rushing yards end in week 13. Not only that, Williams was replaced by Jordan Wilkins for much of the game with Wilkins finishing with 13 touches to Jon’s 9. This blurb may be moot is Marlon Mack returns from his injury next week, but keep an eye on Wilkins. I liked him better than Williams but the Colts felt compelled to ride the hot hand I’m sure. Now that Williams has cooled, look for Wilkins to become the Colts’ lead back.
James Washington, WR, PIT (priority MEDIUM) – I wrote about JWash last week, and he came out and bumped his priority up a notch with a 4-111-1 line. His 30 yard TD was probably an ill-advised pass into double coverage but he caught the ball between 2 defenders while falling down, showing incredible concentration. The volume is going to continue to be low in this offense, but he’s making it work with big plays. And of course, this happened last week. He’s making a name for himself on production regardless, but JuJu’s potential return could lower expectations.
Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA (priority HIGH for TE needy teams) – Magic Mike has now seen 6 or more targets in 5 straight games and scored in consecutive contests. This guy is a size/speed creation you’d feel guilty about making on Madden, his numbers are that dramatic. Go check out his workout metrics here.
We know that the tight end position requires some seasoning, and he struggled in year 1. However Miami is devoid of playmakers and the passing offense runs through Davante Parker and Gesicki. Shockingly, the Dolphins are now 3-9 and trending up with all 3 wins in their last 5 games. They’re playing with conviction and with the Jets, Giants, and Bengals on tap he can help you win a title in the fantasy playoffs.
Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on
TJ Hockenson, TE, DET – He was sadly placed on IR so the last 45% of you holding on can finally cut him (unless you’re in a dynasty of course).
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