Fantasy football: Playoff payoffs (Cowboys’ Cooper) & layoffs (Patriots’ Brady)
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It’s playoff time in most fantasy leagues. So if you’re still contending for a title, it probably means you had a crafty draft, timely waiver-wire moves and a fortunate bounce or two along the way.
Now, the job is shifting.
Week 14 is also the last week of the regular season in a host of leagues. Weather could be a factor in some games, but the objective is the same as it was in September: Win.
START: Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys
Performing at a WR1 level, Cooper has caught 16 of 17 targets in the last two weeks and will have a great opportunity to continue his pace against an Eagles defense that’s 30th in points allowed to receivers. Cooper was targeted 10 times in the Week 10 victory at Philadelphia and will see similar volume this week. The Eagles have allowed 47 completions of more than 20 yards.
SIT: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The touchdowns haven’t been there for Brady, who has just four scoring tosses in his last five games, including a pair of zeroes in Weeks 8 and 10. With the emergence of rookie running back Sony Michel, the need for Brady to air it out has lessened. He also has been less than stellar throughout his career in Miami. Plus, the Dolphins are second in the league with 19 interceptions.
START: Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens
Since being plugged into the lineup, Edwards has averaged 105 yards per game. Now he gets a Chiefs defense that’s 31st in points allowed to running backs per game. Edwards has just one touchdown this season, but the Chiefs have allowed 14 rushing scores and a hefty 5.1 yards per carry. He’s a borderline RB1.
SIT: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts
Out of the frying pan that was the Jaguars’ defense and into the fire of a blistering-hot Texans “D” goes Mack, who had just eight carries for 27 yards last week against the Jags. He could produce even less if the Colts have to go pass-heavy, giving rookie Nyheim Hines more touches. The Texans are fifth in the league against the run, and only the Bears (four) and Patriots (five) have allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the Texans (six).
START: David Njoku, TE, Browns
Inconsistent of late, Njoku has just 12 targets in his last three games, but he’ll have the opportunity to reward faithful owners against a Panthers defense that’s the worst at stopping tight ends. The unit has allowed at least two touchdown passes nine times, and with the Browns looking to avoid the Panthers’ fifth-ranked run defense, it’s easy to see quarterback Baker Mayfield making Njoku a focal point, especially in the red zone.
SIT: Jared Goff, QB, Rams
Yes, Goff has led many a fantasy team to postseason glory, but starting him against the Bears could lead to a one-and-done scenario. Game-time temps will be in the upper 20s, and the only thing colder than the weather are opposing passers against the Bears’ defense, which leads the league with 21 interceptions and has allowed just five touchdown passes in the last five games.
START: Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers
He has thrived in DeSean Jackson’s absence, catching touchdowns in each of his last three games. Humphries will have every opportunity to extend his scoring streak against a Saints defense that’s last in points allowed to receivers per game. He has caught 16 of 20 targets in the last three weeks. With the potential for an offensive free-for-all, consider Humphries a WR3/flex.
SIT: Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Eagles
Owners would love to know the whereabouts of Jeffrey, who hasn’t scored since Week 7 and has failed to exceed 50 receiving yards in his last five games. There’s little reason to envision Jeffery reviving his fortunes against a Cowboys defense that’s sixth in fewest receiving yards allowed and is tied for third with just 16 touchdown passes allowed.
START: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
After rushing for only 36 yards last week against the Cardinals, Jones is a strong rebound candidate against the Falcons, who are 27th against the run and are allowing 4.9 yards per carry. He did score last week, marking four consecutive games with a touchdown. Jones could see a more extensive workload under interim coach Joe Philbin.
SIT: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
It’s tough to bench a quarterback who has thrown multiple touchdowns in eight consecutive games, but Wilson is facing a Vikings pass defense that has been in lockdown mode in the last month. It’s ninth in fewest passing yards allowed and has contained Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the last five games, surrendering a combined four touchdown passes in that span. Wilson hasn’t run much this season, but a Vikings pass rush that has recorded 36 sacks will force him to be more run-centric.