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Tue Dec 14th 2021

2021 Week Fourteen Review

Week fourteen was a high-scoring week for NFL teams and fantasy teams. The week started with 64 points scored on Thursday night and Sunday night ended with a 75-point game. Eight teams scored more than 30 points in week fourteen, and fantasy rosters reaped the benefit in their march to the playoffs.

The fantasy regular season is over, and we now know which teams are in the playoffs. I made the playoffs in five of my ten leagues, a much lower percentage than usual, which is disappointing, but I have a legitimate chance to win the fantasy Super Bowl in these leagues, so I am excited about the playoffs.

After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams.

Ten Observations From Week Fourteen

COVID Crumble

  • In many leagues, the last week of the regular season felt like the first week of the playoffs because managers faced "win-and-in" games this week. I know it felt that way for several of my teams, so the COVID crumble was devastating for so many dynasty managers. Keenan Allen got COVID early in the week but was thought to have a chance to play but was ruled out. Jamaal Williams and Darrell Henderson were placed on the COVID at the last minute, leaving their managers in a lurch. Then Elijah Moore went from questionable to being placed on IR, effectively eliminating him from rosters during the playoffs. I'll remember this week as the COVID crumbling week.

Cooking With Gas

  • One questionable player was a surprise active and carried teams to wins this week unless unaware managers kept him on the bench. A week after dislocating his shoulder, Dalvin Cook was active and wearing a shoulder harness for protection, and the Vikings did not limit him at all. On Thursday night, he had 27 carries for 205 yards and two touchdowns en route to 34.7 fantasy points. Unfortunately, some dynasty managers were either cautious or uninformed because he scored those points on their bench. GroupMe was buzzing Thursday night with ridicule for those who did not start Cook. I believe in the "start your studs" theory, even if a player has been questionable all week with what seems like an injury that could get reaggravated easily. I started Deebo Samuel this week in every league that I have him because he's a stud that I have to start when he's active. Deebo helped my teams this week, and Cook carried teams this week. 

A Career Best

  • In the third year of his career, Rashaad Penny scored the most fantasy points in his career on Sunday. His two long touchdown runs or 32 and 47 yards helped him score a career-high 26 fantasy points. Unfortunately, he was most likely on dynasty teams' benches in most leagues. That said, I had the joy of playing against him when one manager subbed in Penny for Darrell Henderson after he was placed on the COVID list. Thankfully, I was able to come back in the afternoon games to win, but I dreaded the thought that I would get beat by Rashaad Penny, who has been injured and done nothing his entire career until this game. If I had Penny on any of my rosters, I would immediately place him on the trading block. I don't believe the Seahawks see him as their future RB-1, even if they feed him the ball a lot to end this season, and if they give him the steady workload as they did on Sunday, I don't trust him to stay healthy. If I were not in the playoffs and had Penny on my roster, I'd try to sell him to a playoff team for their playoff run.

A Rocky Start

  • Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence could not be off to a worse start to their NFL careers. Rumors circled last week that Urban may be a "one-and-done" coach, and I think he should be. Even after a week of lip service about giving James Robinson more carries, he touched the ball just six times and did not have a single target. This season, the Jaguars do not have a fantasy-relevant wide receiver, and Trevor Lawrence is a mess. Lawrence is the best prospect to enter the draft since Payton Manning, but he's been terrible. He's thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions over the last seven weeks, including four interceptions on Sunday. Manning had a disastrous rookie season, too, so the story is certainly not over on Lawrence, but the first chapter looks pretty gross. I want to say it's an excellent time to buy low on Lawrence, but as long as he's tied to Meyer, I don't think I'd be willing to pay the price for Lawrence.

The Next Julian Edelman

  • Hunter Renfrow is the new Julian Edelman. This season he's a PPR monster with one of the safest floors every week. He's scored double-digit fantasy points in eight of 13 weeks this season, and since Darren Waller has been out, he's averaged 18 points per game. He's averaging more than eight targets per game and has a catch rate above 80% because his routes are so shallow. He's a savvy route-runner that does what Edelman used to do in New England. He gets open in zones, gets open on rub routes, and coverts on third down. Sadly, I dropped Renfrow from my roster at the start of this season in the only league that I had him, and this week the team that picked him upbeat me with him in his lineup. He's one I let go of, and it's one of the biggest roster-decision mistakes I've made this season.

The Next Top-Tier Tight Ends

  • Dawson Knox and Pat Freiermuth scored touchdowns again this week, which is about all a tight end has to do to finish in the top twelve for the week. Headed into week fourteen, Knox was the 9th ranked tight end of the year, and Freiermuth was 14th. After this week, they will both be in the top twelve for the year, and they're both in the top twelve in my dynasty rankings too. I have Knox ranked seventh and Freiermuth tenth in my tight-end rankings. I believe both are approaching the top tier of tight ends and will become the top tier in the next few years while Travis Kelce and Darren Waller age out. Both players are the primary red-zone target on their teams and score the touchdowns needed to be a top-twelve tight end on the season. The time to buy them low has way since passed, but even with their market high, I'd be willing to pay up to get one of them. 

Better Balance

  • The Kansas City offense is on fire, as is their defense, and they're on a six-game winning streak. In years past, this would result in fantasy greatness for their players, but this winning streak is not helping dynasty managers with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, particularly the last two weeks. Kelce has three of the worst fantasy games of his season during the six-game winning streak, and Tyreek Hill has scored less than ten fantasy points in three of the last six games. Patrick Mahomes has one forty-point game during this span but has scored less than 20 points in four of the six games. The Chiefs' running backs have been given far more touches than in previous years and have been more involved in the passing game. The touch and target share Hill and Kelce have enjoyed over the last two years are not happening this season, and for the first time, they're becoming safe floor players without high ceilings. I'm not either of them will have a game-winning performance in the fantasy playoffs this season.

Cheat Code

  • Taysom Hill is awful to watch but is still a fantasy cheat code. I hedged my bets this week, starting him in one league, but he didn't do enough to get me a win. I benched him in another league and would have won by less than a point if I started him. I lost on both sides of my hedge! This week Hill was even more frustrating than usual. He was playing terribly and keeping the hapless Jets in the game until five minutes left in the game when he had a two-yard touchdown run and, on the final possession, broke a 44-yard touchdown run with one minute left in the game when the Saints were just trying to run out the clock. Sixteen of his 28 fantasy points came in the last five minutes of the game. If you're willing to ride the Taysom rollercoaster in the fantasy playoffs, more power to you. I'm tired of doing it and think the ride will come to an end the first week of the playoffs when the Saints play at Tampa Bay.

Solidifying Roles

  • I know it's not fun to write about bad teams, but the snap counts and target share in Houston's passing game are becoming clearer in recent weeks and give dynasty managers a chance to buy in on players while the team looks terrible. Brandin Cooks leads the team in snaps and targets, but behind him are two forgotten rookies who have solidified starting roles. Since week six, Nico Collins has been second on the team in wide receiver snaps and targets though he's not had a real breakout game. That makes him a perfect player to buy low right now. Brevin Jordan is still being out-snapped by Pharoh Brown, but Jordan is the only tight end used in the passing game. Jordan scored a touchdown on Sunday, giving him three touchdowns since he started playing in week eight. One more touchdown, and he'll be on dynasty managers' radar. He's another player I recommend buying this week. You might even find him on your waiver wire still.

It's Been A While

  • Nick Chubb is one of my favorite players to watch because he's so good a getting hidden tough yards and has breakaway speed when he gets through the front line of the defense. I have come to expect a forty-plus yard touchdown run from Chubb every other week, but it's been a while since he's done so this season. He had a 52-yard touchdown run in week five and a seventy-yard touchdown run in week nine, but those are his only two of the season. I think he's due for a few long touchdown runs during the fantasy playoffs this season. Cleveland had a scheduling anomaly over the last three weeks playing Baltimore before and after their bye week. Their division rival stifled the Brown's running game, holding Chubb to 75 total yards rushing in those two games. Chubb plays two of the worst run defenses in weeks fifteen (Las Vegas) and seventeen (Pittsburg) and has a tougher match with Green Bay in week 16. I expect at least two more long-distance touchdown runs from Chubb during the fantasy playoffs. It's been a while, but he's due.

Week Fourteen Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues, so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

It's hard to get excited about the waiver wire this late in the season, but I do think there is one player that could help teams in the playoffs and a few to consider as players to hold until next season.

Justin Jackson

  • Jackson was spelling Austin Ekeler on Sunday even before Ekeler was injured in the second half. It's been difficult this season to know which running back is the true handcuff to Ekeler, which is why Jackson, Joshua Kelley, and Larry Rountree are on the waiver wire in most leagues. Jackson is the best football player of the three, but he always gets injured when given a leading role. If Ekeler misses time during the fantasy playoffs, I'd bet on the Chargers to ride Jackson during their playoff push. Hopefully, for Ekeler managers, who are almost certainly in the playoffs, he comes back healthy, but if not, Jackson is a great player to add this week.

Breshad Perriman

  • Perriman only caught one ball on Sunday, but it was the game-winning touchdown. What's more important from a dynasty perspective is that he's seen 105 snaps the last two weeks, and Tampa Bay signed him to their active roster two weeks ago. Next season, Chris Godwin may not be back with the Buccaneers, leaving the open spot for Perriman or Tyler Johnson to fill. Perriman is worth adding to hold this offseason while Godwin tests free agency.

Alan Lazard

  • Just when I thought Marquez Valdes-Scantling shored up the WR-2 role, Sunday night Lazard was second on the team in targets. He looks the part when he plays, and he'll get more opportunities to play now that Randal Cobb is injured. His future is uncertain in Green Bay, as is Aaron Rodgers, so he's not someone I'd look to add in every league, but I might in one or two.

Week Fourteen Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

There were a lot of playoff-push trades made in my leagues whose trade deadlines extend to the start of the playoffs,  Most of these trades were made between contenders and rebuilders as contenders try to get a leg up on other playoff teams.

Devonta Freeman <=====> Robert Woods

  • I narrowly missed the playoffs in this 14-team All Flex league, so I put Freeman on the trading block to help a playoff team. Freeman would be an every-week starter in the playoffs in this deep league. I received many offers but rejected them all, but I countered to receive Robert Woods with this trade. I am not sure if Woods can return from his injury to be a top-12 receiver like he was before he was injured, but even if he returns to be a top-24 receiver for a season or two, I think this is a winning trade for me. 

Dyami Brown <=====> 2023 4th round pick

Jalen Reagor  <=====> Ronald Jones and a 2022 3rd round pick

  • The team that acquired Brown and Reagor has a good roster but has had a bad season due to injuries. He was looking to get younger at the wide receiver position by making some low-ball offers on first and second-year players that appear to be busts thus far in their career. I think it's a good strategy to buy back players around later than where they were drafted in rookie drafts when they underperform like this. I like what this manager did by getting himself two gifted players with nice draft capital. I especially like that he did it for two players because if just one of them develops into a flex-worthy player, it's a win for him.

Kirk Cousins and a 2022 2nd round pick <=====> Cam Akers

  • The team that acquired Akers in this trade is in full rebuild mode and was willing to take a risk giving up one of his valuable picks for Akers, who was a top-twelve dynasty running back before tearing his Achilles. If Akers returns healthy, this trade is a steal in this one-quarterback league. There have been a few professional athletes that have recently returned to form after having their Achilles repaired. He's banking on Akers to be the next. As for the other side, Cousins is perpetually underrated and will likely finish as a top-twelve quarterback again this year. The team that received Cousins has only one reliable future starter on his roster, Trevor Lawrence. The rest of his quarterbacks could be replaced this offseason, so the trade to get Cousins does help his team. The second-round pick will be pick #13, so that's a valuable pick. This trade could help the future of both teams, or it could look very lopsided a year from now. It all depends on Akers' health.

Tre'Quan Smith <=====> Jamison Crowder and a 4th round pick

  • This trade was a small trade made between two rebuilding teams. They will have the first and second pick in the draft next year. One owner has been making offers to get Smith off his roster. Obviously, he could not ask for much for Smith, but I guess he found a manager who would take a bet on his upside at the price of an old player and a late pick. It's a fair trade, but I don't think either team will see these players or picks in their starting lineups very often in the future, if at all.

Jamaal Williams <=====> 2023 2nd round pick

  • The top team in this league and defending champion acquired Williams for his playoff run, and the rebuilding team picked up a late-round pick. Of course, the trade was made before Williams was placed on the COVID list. Only four teams make the playoffs in this ten-team league, and they don't start until week 16, so at least the team that added Williams should have him in the playoffs. It's a pretty even trade, given the goals of each manager.

Sony Michel <=====> 2023 3rd round pick

  • This trade took place in my 14-team All Flex league. The team that received Michel is the top team in the league and is banking on Michel getting more play-time while Henderson is slowed by injury, and now, COVID. The rebuilding team has been compiling 2022 and 2023 picks and was happy to get rid of Michel to the highest bidder. It's a classic contender/rebuilder trade that helps both teams.

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