Week 14 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom
There is nothing at the quarterback position this week that just absolutely pops off the page for me, which makes “betting on upside” (and being a bit more willing than normal to take a lower floor at the position) an interesting way to go in tourneys. From a pure floor/ceiling perspective, however, these are the plays I like the most — the guys who should be able to post a strong game, and who have a clear path to a big game.
- Ben Roethlisberger :: The Raiders have faced the fewest pass attempts in the NFL…but it is not in the Steelers’ DNA to just ground and pound, making this a good spot for them to put the ball into Ben’s hands for most of the first three quarters — letting him tear up the field against the Raiders’ slow defense with passing back Jaylen Samuels complementing AB and JuJu. Things could play out differently, but it would be tough for Ben to fail no matter what picture we paint, and he’s an interesting way to allocate salary this week, with plenty of floor and ceiling.
- Andrew Luck :: The game in Houston gives us our best bet for a true, back-and-forth, pass-heavy shootout. It could take a couple series for these teams to feel each other out, but if the Colts find out quickly that they can’t run on this team, we could see another pass-heavy attack from them — with Luck firing off another massive set of targets to Hilton and Ebron. Luck has visited the end zone as consistently as any quarterback in the league this year. The quarterback position is littered with question marks this week, making this play as comfortable as any.
- Deshaun Watson :: The Texans have a better chance than the Colts of succeeding on the ground — with Darius Leonard the main defender they need to isolate — but I do see this matchup and the pace of this game pushing them to the air a bit more than what we’ve seen from them lately. Anything in the range of 30 Watson pass attempts and five to seven rushes is enough to keep him near the top of the floor/ceiling discussion against this beatable Indianapolis secondary. Watson to Hopkins could be a big producer this week.
As always, we have some strong options at the high end of the running back price range this week — but we also get a late-season special with some running back value opening up. Running back is a position where we want to lock in as much upside and as many guaranteed points as we can, so keep that in mind as you sort through the various roster construction approaches available to us this week.
- Christian McCaffrey :: While the media and the public seem to have written off the Panthers all of a sudden, we would be well-served to remember that this team is still in the thick of the playoff hunt at 6-6 — and that is exactly how this tight, Ron Rivera-focused group of players will be entering this game. The Browns are a team on the rise with a serious shot to win here, which should create a gritty game that features a lot of CMC against a defense that has allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the ninth most receiving yards to enemy backs. McCaffrey has shown a receiving floor all year of around 5-60, and over the last five weeks he has grabbed one of the largest red zone roles in football. The floor and ceiling are strong in this spot..
- Ezekiel Elliott :: Zeke is the absolute engine of this Cowboys offense, as the focus of the play (between carries and targets) 26 // 31 // 32 // 29 times across his last four games. At home against a bitter rival, with first place in the NFC East on the line, there is no reason to expect this team to do anything different this time around. In these four games, he has accounted for yardage totals of 187 // 201 // 143 // 135, with five total touchdowns.
- Saquon Barkley :: The story is not as exciting for Saquon in this broken Giants offense, as he is stuck making things happen on his own behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. This whole season has been like one big rookie hazing for the guy who may already be the best all-around back in football. Barkley is like that really kind and really beautiful girl who dated that douche in high school who drunk-wrecked his car and then took a picture of the wreck with a beer bottle set on top of the hood. Poor Saquon Barkley. (“Beckham Out” Update)
- Jaylen Samuels :: Samuels played tight end in college and never topped 12 carries in a game, but he has looked good carrying the ball on his limited opportunities, and he set the N.C. State school receptions record, making him a great fit for this pass-heavy offense. The Steelers have churned out so many productive games from running backs in this role — and while Ridley is going to jump in for some work, even a 60% share of snaps in this spot should be enough to make Samuels a strong point-per-dollar play, with enough upside if his role grows in this game for a true, slate-breaking score.
If we played this slate a hundred times, Zeke and CMC (and possibly even Saquon) would come out on top more often than the high-priced receivers we will dig into below. But we don’t play this slate a hundred times; we only play it once. If you want to bet on some wide receivers who could outscore one (or all) of the high-priced running backs, here’s what I like at the top (along with one guy who is still priced down).
- Davante Adams :: This offense has spent too long looking legitimately bad for us to “bank on the fact” that they are going to suddenly take off because the coach was fired. My junior year of high school, our coach completely lost it at halftime in the second to last game of the season (punching the whiteboard, kicking chairs, leaving the locker room for five minutes, yelling some more…telling us on the bus after we lost and missed the playoffs that he was quitting…leaving one of our linebackers at a rest stop in the middle of Oklahoma…), and we played the final game of the season for an interim coach, with nothing but pride on our plates. We lost by, like, 42 points. Our best linebacker got high on cough and cold medicine before the game and got trucked by their four-star running back. It was messy. And while I don’t think that’s going to happen here, it should be noted that it’s no slam dunk that this team suddenly takes off. But if it does, Adams could explode in this matchup. And even if it doesn’t, Rodgers to Adams carries enough floor that it’s tough for it to fail.
- DeAndre Hopkins :: We don’t have to look any further than Hopkins’ last game against the Colts to know what sort of upside he has when everything clicks, as he went 10-169-1 in that game — posting the sort of score that can hang alongside the high-priced running backs. He’s a solid bet for double-digit looks, giving him a high floor in support of that ceiling.
- Antonio Brown :: The Steelers will be relentless in this game against the pathetic Raiders, and the pass sets up as their preferred means of moving the ball. When we take salary out of the equation, no wide receiver in football has been as reliably relevant as AB this year — with a consistently high floor, and with a ceiling that can hang with the high-priced backs. His price makes him more attractive in tourneys, but there’s a case to be made in all formats.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster :: JuJu has been a little less predictably relevant than AB, but his price on FanDuel makes him attractive there, and on DraftKings and FantasyDraft he becomes a great way to pile up all the points with AB, Ben, and Jaylen on the same team.
- Chris Godwin :: Godwin — as he was last week — is the “don’t overthink it” play of the week. The Buccaneers have leaned toward the pass all season, and they should continue to lean pass-heavy against the stingy Saints front. This locks Godwin into seven to 10 intermediate targets — with upside for some downfield looks, for red zone usage, and even for a potential rise to 11 or 12 looks. His price does not yet account for this workload expectation, giving him a nice floor and ceiling against salary.
- Travis Kelce :: All week in the meeting rooms for the Ravens — and all week on the field — these players have been constantly reminded of the two players who need to be contained: Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. The Ravens are far better equipped to deal with the Chiefs’ speedy wideout than they are to deal with the Chiefs’ former reality television superstar tight end, which should open the door for another game of double-digit targets in a matchup that Kelce can win. He’s a strong way to allocate salary this week from a floor/ceiling perspective.
- Zach Ertz :: The Cowboys’ wrecking-ball job of the Saints last week on national television makes this spot feel scary — but the bare truth of the matter is that the Eagles’ only sure way to move the ball is with Ertz; and tight end coverage is one of the soft spots of this Cowboys defense (as Ertz can attest to already). He’s behind Kelce and Ebron for me in the floor department, but his ceiling is as high as both.
- Eric Ebron :: Everything in the matchup for the Colts points toward a pass-heavy game for them — and with Doyle and Inman both out, the Colts are down to Hilton, Ebron, Hines, and Rogers as effective (or semi-effective) pass catchers. The play-calling should tilt heavily toward the two best players, and Ebron/Hilton should provide a solid floor/ceiling pairing, with both generating respectable individual scores, and with a strong chance of one or the other going for big point-per-dollar production. I like pairing Ebron and Hilton for a block of guaranteed points with lots of point-per-dollar upside, but I also like both guys individually.
- Chargers :: At home against a backup quarterback who will be playing behind a bad offensive line and missing his best receiver. The Bengals are not a hopeless team, but they are not in the same class as this defense.
- Bills :: The Bills continue to play hard, aggressive football in all facets — building something that is fun to watch right now — while Jets coach Todd Bowles is building his resume for next year’s hiring cycle. Bills coaches Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll have talked about the ways in which Josh Allen’s time off allowed him to work on some mental elements of the NFL game that have helped him become much more comfortable. Perhaps we will find that the same thing has happened for Darnold during his time off — but the culture in the Jets’ locker room leads me to assume we’ll see the same Darnold (and the same inept offense) we have seen throughout the season. If that’s the case, the Bills will eat.
- Redskins :: While the public sees a Redskins team that has no real shot at the playoffs, the players themselves see a 6-6 team about to play a 4-8 division rival. Washington has not had big offensive production all season, but they have reached 6-6 with a tight, selectively aggressive defense that constantly finds ways to capitalize on opponent mistakes. Eli Manning has been a big ball of Mistake this season, and Washington will have a chance here to produce strong, affordable production.
- Steelers :: The Steelers and their ridiculous pass rush will travel off a big loss to take on the 2-10 Raiders in a spot where they should absolutely smash. Oakland has been generous to opposing DST units, and Pittsburgh has the pieces to make a dent in this spot.
- Chiefs :: The Chiefs have been dominant at Arrowhead, and if their offense can generate any early points to put pressure on the Ravens’ offense, this attacking defense will be able to pin back its ears against a raw rookie who has fumbled five times already through three games.
- All the rest :: The aggressive Saints could make some noise against the Bucs // the Cardinals are in a strong spot at home against the Lions // the Broncos still boast a strong pass rush, and they are facing Nick Mullens.
- Justin Jackson :: He’s not really a Tier 2 play (typically, Tier 2 is reserved for guys who have a strong price-considered floor, but who don’t really have a great shot at ceiling), and he’s not really a Tier 3 play, either (low-floor, high-ceiling). From a price-considered standpoint, he’s closer to “high-floor/high-ceiling” than anything else — but since this play requires some guesswork, I’m sticking Jackson in the middle. The Bengals’ defense has faced 24.75 running back rush attempts per game (fourth most in the league), and the Chargers are a run-leaning team, with a strong defense. It’s not crazy to think we get 28 to 30 rush attempts in this spot, and I don’t see the Chargers giving more than 12 or possibly 14 to Ekeler. If I’m right on that, it becomes 14 to 18 carries for Jackson, with at least two or three receptions mixed in. This would make things really, truly close between he and Samuels. Since there is more guesswork on Jackson, I prefer Samuels — but if you’re comfortable enough trusting the numbers, it’s close.
- Adam Humphries :: His targets have been locked in with Jameis under center, and he has the best matchup on the Bucs vs P.J. Williams in the slot. His recent lines have been a bit touchdown-heavy, so his ceiling is not guaranteed, but he should continue to provide strong floor value even if he misses his ceiling.
- Tyler Boyd :: Similar to Humphries, Boyd is a slot receiver in line for heavy targets, giving him a solid floor. Unlike Humphries, Boyd is playing with a backup quarterback against a good defense — and he carries the higher price tag. On paper, he’s not a great ceiling play at the price, but the floor is higher than most probably realize — and ceiling is not impossible.
- Josh Allen :: Josh Allen is like a backyard superstar right now — just scrambling around and launching the ball downfield. Sometimes it finds its mark, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, he takes off and runs and is a lot faster than the defense is ready for. And sometimes he makes decisions that he hopefully won’t still be making in two or three years. There is low floor here, but it’s not back-breaking, and the ceiling has been higher than most realize. Allen returned from his multi-week break just in time to clash with Jacksonville before traveling to Miami for one of the toughest late-season road matchups in the league. This is the best matchup he has had since returning. The upside is high enough to offset the floor in tourneys.
- Jameis Winston :: The Saints have played tough pass defense lately, and the Bucs have taken out a few of the more aggressive concepts in their game plans over the last couple weeks, but Tampa is still in one of the more aggressive offenses in the league, at home against the Saints. The floor doesn’t feel quite as secure as it has in other spots recently (Jameis has been a Tier 1 staple), but the ceiling remains.
- Large-field tourneys :: Patrick Mahomes // Cam Newton // Baker Mayfield — Mahomes to Hill is in play no matter the matchup // Cam enters a tough matchup, and the shoulder is a slim concern, but the upside remains // Mayfield should have a strong game opposite Cam in this spot, as this Browns offense continues to grow.
- Aaron Jones :: There is only one thing that would make sense in this spot for the Packers, and that is to keep Jones on the field for at least 70% of the snaps. If this happens, he should push for 17+ carries and four to six receptions in a great matchup for running backs, as a home favorite. The price is a bit out of hand, but the upside is absolutely there.
- LeSean McCoy :: The floor on this Bills offense is a bit low — and this is especially true for Shady, who is playing behind a wreck of an offensive line, and who is seeing fewer checkdowns with Allen chucking deep. But he is still seeing his touches, and he still has legitimate 25+ point upside. Be aware of the floor, but also note the ceiling.
- Patriots’ Backfield :: With three guys involved, none of them can be counted on for floor — but Michel can likely be considered at least a 16-carry “yardage and touchdown” back in a tremendous running back matchup, White should still see his seven to nine targets, and even Burkhead could surprise with a multi-touchdown game. For me, Burkhead would be for a smattering of builds in large-field, multi-entry play. White and Michel are plays that require some stones, but both carry high, price-considered upside.
- Julio Jones :: If not for the foot issue, Julio would join the high-priced Tier 1 wide receiver parade, but foot issues have plagued him throughout his career, and there have been several instances in his career of the Falcons downplaying an injury and then using him as a decoy. The ceiling remains, but the floor has moved down.
- Odell Beckham :: Beckham is likely to go a bit overlooked on this slate, but there is every reason to expect another nine or more targets, and he has shown us his upside on these looks too many times for him to not be considered as a big-upside tourney play this week. (“Beckham Out” Update)
- T.Y. Hilton :: There is just no one else for Luck to throw to in what should be a pass-heavy spot. Targets should pile up for Hilton in a matchup he has already proven he can win. He always comes with a somewhat thin floor, but his ceiling in this spot is tremendous.
- Courtland Sutton :: Sutton’s poor connection with Keenum holds back his floor, but he is likely to step into seven to 10 looks in this spot, and he is cheap enough — with more than enough upside to his role — to be considered a strong ceiling play.
- Larry Fitzgerald :: Old man Fitz will begin what may be his march toward the retirement home as the last man standing in this Cardinals passing attack. Against the poor Lions defense, there is more upside on this play than most realize. The floor is not back-breaking — but attached to this offense, it’s also not elite.
- Zay Jones :: Anywhere from eight to 11 targets is truly in range for projections on Zay, given how he has been used in this offense lately. Like Sutton, he may only catch half of these looks — but they’re all coming downfield, and this Jets secondary should not pose a major threat, leaving lots of space for upside.
- All the rest :: Robert Foster can be paired with Zay Jones as high-quality insurance (i.e., both can hit together, and it’s 80/20 that Zay is the one who hits over Foster; but by bundling the two together and viewing them as one receiver in allocating salary, they become a lot of guaranteed points no matter which way the points swing — with bonus points to this play if this offense has a big game and both guys rip off some chunk gains // Antonio Callaway had two opportunities (on the same drive) last week to score a 70-yard touchdown. He’s not likely to see more than five or six targets, but his floor is not awful for his price, and the upside is very real // Golden Tate is one for two in matchups against Dallas this year; the Eagles have been proactively getting the ball into his hands, making him a high-upside play with terrifyingly low floor.
- All the rest :: I don’t even have any tight ends on my list beyond the affordable high-priced guys. A dollar goes a long way at tight end this week, while there are some savings at running back and wide receiver that make it easy to get up at this position. If wanting to go off the board, however, David Njoku and Rob Gronkowski are the two guys I like the most for price-considered upside. Neither has a particularly secure floor, but I wouldn’t mind layering in these two on some teams if building a multi-entry strategy.
Quick Note: I’ve seen a few people asking about the Saints and Aaron Rodgers. I like the Saints’ offense (the numbers and exploration of this game in the NFL Edge digs into the reasons why there are individual players I prefer to bet on over Saints players myself), and I have no arguments against Rodgers if you think this offense turns things around this week (the matchup is certainly ripe). As a reminder, of course: this is simply my group of players for the weekend, and is not a list of all the good plays on the slate. As always, there are other ways to go; but also as always, I feel comfortable that slate-winning rosters can be found from the right combinations of players from this list (whatever that “right combination” this week might be…). Trust your research; trust what you are seeing; and build on the track you’re on. Do that, and you’ll be able to feel good about your process heading into the weekend, knowing you are putting in rosters that would make you money if we played out this slate a hundred times.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Thursday morning for the Week 15(!) edition of the NFL Edge.
If playing the Full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft:
The Sunday night game is a fun one to bet on in tourneys, while I would leave it alone for cash game builds myself, as there is more certainty available on individual plays in the earlier games.
On the Bears, Trubisky and Cohen enter the picture as higher-variance guys with a clear path toward upside. Each carries an iffy floor, but the ceiling is worth considering. Behind these two, it’s a lot of guesswork and dart throws, so I would isolate Trubisky and Cohen as Tier 3 and leave the rest of this team alone myself.
Gurley drops down to Tier 3 for the first time all year. His ceiling remains as high as any player on the slate, but his chances of getting to that ceiling are smaller in this spot, and there are strong enough “certainty” plays at the high end of the running back price range that I would prefer the early-day plays in cash games. Again: the upside on Gurley is high enough that he still remains a strong tourney play.
Goff is Tier 3 (though he’s not a guy I’m targeting), and Woods/Cooks are strong Tier 3 options as well. I would leave the rest of this game alone — but as detailed in the NFL Edge writeup, there are some paths to upside on other players on this squad.
Odell Beckham Out
With Beckham missing in action this week, it seems likely we see the Giants lean a bit more run-heavy in this spot (they have been one of the pass-heaviest teams in the NFL to date), especially as Washington is unlikely to hang a big score on the Giants that would push New York to become aggressive. We should also see a bump in targets for both Shepard and Barkley. The main beneficiary here is Barkley, of course — though with the Washington defense able to key on him more easily, his range remains about the same: he carries a lower floor than Zeke and CMC, but his ceiling is just as high. His chances of reaching that ceiling have come up a bit. He’s a strong tourney option, right alongside the other top guys. I’ll be leaving Shepard alone, as I would rather bet on good offenses, but he’s obviously in play. With a lot to like on this slate, I’m not changing up my approach due to this news, but if you’re still trying to figure out where you want to go on this slate, this situation adds a couple more wrinkles to consider.