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. 

Powerbars

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. 

Stragglers

Leave these guys behind, it’s time to move on

Brian Hill, RB, ATL – Yeah, no.

Frank Gore, RB, BUF – Not sure what the last 30% if y’all are waiting for here. The transition to Singletary is long over.

Kalen Ballage, RB, MIA – Shame on you.

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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Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
2 years ago

pascal absolutely doesn’t always produce when hilton has been out, as anybody that’s had pascal for the entirety of hilton’s missed tenure can attest. he’s had at least 2 good target games though for sure, and just lately IND is missing a lot of the other guys who had been nabbing targets earlier when hilton was out (ebron gone entirely, rogers now out too). hilton’s last full game was week 7. since then pascal has had 2 good or great games (accounting for 16/32 of his targets in those 6 games in those 2, and 12 /17 of his catches in those 2 games out of the 6, and the lone TD was in one of those 2 good/great games) and these 4 games totaled this in targets/catches: 16/5. and the bad games were a pretty good schedule too
week 8 vs DEN
10 vs MIA
11 vs JAX
12 @ HOU
(weeks 9 and 13 were the good/great ones @ PIT and vs TEN).
with all the injuries he probably gets closer to the good games i’d think going forward, but brissett just doesn’t get much total production at all when hilton is out in general (and even when everybody was healthy this team wasn’t a top end throwing team anyway with brissett). i do own him in a super deep benches 12 teamer currently and would own in deep leagues for sure, but i’d never put him close to j-wash’s category assuming you ever had to play either of these, or mostert (if we assume breida and hilton and JJSS remain out, which with pascal and j-wash you already kinda were). but in that league where i obtained him a while ago the other options at the time where like n.harry or a.miller (before miller’s last 2 good games lately).

– do agree that wilkins should’ve been playing already though, that guy had a glowing report from footballguys last year if/when mack ever went out he’d succeed, whereas j-will (ex BUF) has been around for years doing nothing on multiple teams.

Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
2 years ago

mostert is an odd one as the dude is a str up baller on special teams and in the last 2 seasons generally has looked pretty awesome when given playing time during any of this timeframe (only occasionally has breida looked as good as mostert of their RB crew).

Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
2 years ago

ballage (i just read this) was about to be the first player to start (nearly) an entire season at RB and average as low as the 1.8 per he’s trucking out there since ….. 1936. i didn’t read the player’s name that was that bad in 1936 though.

Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
Yr Never Too Old For Balloons
2 years ago
Reply to  al_FF_red

oh esp with breida being almost back even in week 13.

Futbol American Joe
Futbol American Joe
2 years ago

1. Would you drop Shady to grab Mostert?

2. How do you rank Darnold, Fitzgerald, and Tannehill this week?

Jimmy Jack James
Jimmy Jack James
2 years ago

12 team, half PPR league and I’m prepping for my first round playoff game. As a Damien owner, would you drop any of the following to pickup Darwin:

T.Coleman
Brieda
L.Murray
Dame himself

Niners/Chiefs backfields have both been disasters but something tells me Darwin may be a playoff steal

Thank you!

big league choo
big league choo
2 years ago

Drop Jonathan williams for Thompson, or john Ross 12 team non ppr?