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Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Zach Pascal, Jamaal Williams, Gardner Minshew


Whether this is the first week of your playoffs, the last week of your regular season, or the time to win a DFS league to pay for your holiday presents, this is the most crucial week of your fantasy football season.

While my booms from last week (Robert Woods, Jack Doyle, Dede Westbrook, Kyle Allen) made my crystal ball and I look like we were in sync, three of the players I chose as busts scored touchdowns. Let’s hope my batting average is higher this week when you need me most.

Here are my under-the-radar booms and busts for Week 14. Good luck, RotoBallers!

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Week 14 Lineup Booms

Derek Carr (OAK, QB) vs. TEN

Carr has not exactly quieted the boisterous doubters of his over the past month. He has thrown three touchdown passes while throwing four interceptions and has averaged only 215 passing yards per game. What should turn Carr’s fortunes around is Tennessee’s 27th-ranked pass defense, which has allowed 1,037 passing yards during its past three games. Carr has also thrown for 841 yards and six scores in three career contests versus the Titans. Sounds like a slot machine waiting to pay a jackpot to me. Look for Carr to save Oakland’s season with one of the best games of 2019.

Zach Pascal (IND, WR) at TB

Tampa Bay’s struggles against the pass are as well-documented as Wesley Snipes’ with the IRS. The Bucs are 31st in pass “defense”, although kudos to them for not allowing any pass catcher to break the 100-yard barrier in the last two weeks after allowing New Orleans’ Michael Thomas, Arizona’s Christian Kirk, and Seattle’s Tyler Lockett to turn the trick during a three-week span. Pascal is coming off his second 100-yard-game of the campaign and should have his third this weekend since T.Y. Hilton might miss another game and tight end Eric Ebron is out for the season. I like Pascal in a spot where he should be the featured receiver in a shootout where he is running routes against a haphazard secondary.

Jamaal Williams (GB, RB) vs. WAS

Aaron Jones gets all the love in Green Bays backfield, but the reality is that the numbers between Jones and Williams are closer than you would think, especially in recent weeks. Williams has rushed for 159 yards and caught 17 passes for 100 yards over the past four games. Jones has rushed for 179 yards but only has five receptions for 12 yards over the same span. While Jones has a three-to-one touchdown advantage in those games, the fact is that Williams is arguably as valuable because of his pass-catching skills. Just because Washington held Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey in check last week does not mean the Redskins are the next coming of the 1985 Chicago Bears. Washington is 27th in run defense and should allow Williams to have 100 combined yards, several receptions and possibly a touchdown this Sunday.

Jamison Crowder (NYJ, WR) vs. MIA

Crowder has been a fantasy zero for players the past two weeks, putting up four catches for 26 yards. Worse, he did it against Cincinnati and Oakland, the 21st and 24th-best pass defenses in the NFL. Why I have any confidence in Crowder going into his Miami matchup is anybody’s guess. Maybe it is because he had eight receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown earlier in the season when he faced the Dolphins. Maybe it is because Miami’s 23rd-ranked pass defense just made Philadelphia’s Alshon Jeffrey, Cleveland’s Jarvis Landry, and Buffalo’s John Brown look like three Jerry Rice clones by allowing each to have 130-yard games with one or more touchdowns during the Dolphins last three contests. Or maybe I am just biased because I am a Jets fan. I believe Crowder will get the fantasy crowds behind him after this week.

 

Week 14 Lineup Busts

Gardner Minshew (JAC, QB) vs. LAC

The man with the masterful mustache is back under center for the slumping Jaguars after Nick Foles played as he did with the St. Louis Rams back in 2015. While Minshew has a 14-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he is stuck in a mediocre Jacksonville offense, with an underachieving offensive line and pedestrian playmakers who have been short on making plays recently. The Chargers have the fourth-best pass defense in the league and just got two key cogs of their secondary back last week. It is going to be difficult for Minshew to find open lanes to throw and open receivers to throw to. I can see 225 passing yards but I also see more interceptions than touchdowns for Mr. Minshew this weekend.

Derrius Guice (WAS, RB) at GB

Guice was nice, finally, for fantasy players last Sunday, rumbling for a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina. But let’s face some hard facts. Not only did he do it against a Panthers run defense that was terrible all season, but the unit was also made worse for this game by the season-ending injury to their best run stopper, Dontari Poe. I know Green Bay has a below-average run defense itself, but the Packers will probably build a lead and force Washington to throw more than run in the second half. Meanwhile, Guice will have to split touches with both Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Do not look for another career day out of Guice this Sunday.

Darren Fells (HOU, TE) vs. DEN

Fells’ fantasy value had fallen faster than Motley Crue’s credibility after three consecutive one-reception outings, but he bounced back with 23 yards and a touchdown against New England this past Sunday evening. Now that Houston’s receiving corps is healthy, though, Fells’ target share will not be the same as it was in the middle of the season when Will Fuller had his injured hamstring. You would not expect a 4-8 team to have the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL, but that’s the case with Denver. Only one tight end (Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph) has managed more than 30 yards against the Broncos over their past four games, and they just held L.A. Chargers phenom Hunter Henry to 10 yards in their last one. I do not see Fells’ name being mentioned much this weekend.

Auden Tate (CIN, WR) at CLE

Tate has been a mild surprise as he has filled in for the injured A.J. Green and John Ross and delivered five games of 55 yards or more during the last seven times he has suited up. Tate was targeted an average of 7.4 times per contest during that stretch. His targets and subsequent receiving yards will start dwindling this week now that Ross is healthy and being weened back into the passing attack. Tate will not see as many snaps, so even though Andy Dalton upgrades the fantasy values of his receivers (well, compared to Ryan Finley), that does not help if you are on the field half as much. Do not expect Tate to be silenced on Sunday at Cleveland, but do not expect a game where he turns 10 targets into 75 yards, either.

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