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Week 14 Fantasy Busts? Players Who May Disappoint Include Justin Herbert, Derrick Henry, D'Andre Swift, Tee Higgins

D'Andre Swift - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL DFS Lineup Picks

The clock is about to strike midnight.

For the majority of fantasy football leagues, this is the final week of the regular season. These games will determine whether managers earned a first-round bye in the playoffs or even made the postseason at all. Start and sit decisions have never been more crucial.

As you prepare to set your lineups for a victorious Week 14, potential fantasy landmines may need to find a spot on your bench. Below are my 10 fantasy football busts for Week 14 of the NFL season.

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Justin Herbert vs. Denver

It's been a tale of two seasons for the slinger in Southland. When his weapons (Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Gerald Everett, Joshua Palmer, and more) were healthy, Justin Herbert was the QB1 in fantasy football, clearing the 20-point mark in each of the first four games. In the contests after the bye week, he's topped that mark three times in eight games.

It's fair to write off last week's eight-fantasy point performance, given the nature of the weather in New England. Plus, the Patriots' defense has been spectacular recently. Ditto for the Ravens the week prior.

Unfortunately, as was the case in Foxborough, he's getting loose change from the running game. Ekeler is averaging under three yards per carry since returning from his ankle issue and lacks explosiveness. The offense is one-dimensional and that dimension is Keenan Allen. There's no downfield threat with Williams and Palmer out of the lineup.

The Broncos' defensive numbers will remain out of whack a little because of that 70-point debacle against Miami early in the season. In the timeframe since they've improved, only one quarterback (Jordan Love) has thrown for multiple touchdowns. It's not like they've faced backups and journeymen signal callers either. Their opponents included Patrick Mahomes (twice), Josh Allen, and C.J. Stroud.

 

C.J. Stroud at New York Jets

The calendar has flipped to December, which means the entire fantasy football community has turned into amateur meteorologists. In this case, it's more than just a video of snow flurries six hours before kickoff sending people into a tizzy. There are legitimate concerns about nasty weather conditions in East Rutherford.

Just like predicting how football players will perform on any given Sunday, predicting weather patterns can be fickle. It's important to check on the forecast Sunday morning and see if rain and winds will impact the passing games.

Outside a potentially messy situation, the Jets are a top-five defense against opposing fantasy football quarterbacks. Stroud is guaranteed to be without his second-leading receiver (Tank Dell) and could also be without Dalton Schultz (hamstring), who is third on the team in receptions and yards. If Sauce Gardner can successfully contain Nico Collins, Stroud's next best options are Noah Brown and Robert Woods.

 

Derrick Henry at Miami

The good news, Derrick Henry is healthy and not dealing with any concussion symptoms. The bad news, I hate the spot that he's in on Monday Night Football.

In this short, six-game Will Levis era in Tennessee, the team's home/road splits on offense have been alarming. The Titans haven't won a game outside of Nashville with the rookie at the helm and the offense has underperformed in enemy territory.

Titans w/ Will Levis Points (Avg.) Total Yards (Avg.)
Home (3 games) 24.33 340
Away (3 games) 12 261.33

A lower offensive ceiling has been established. Doubling down, the Miami Dolphins defense is on a heater, limiting opposing running backs to the third-fewest fantasy points in the last four weeks. Granted, an injured Brian Robinson Jr. and an offensively hampered Breece Hall were in that stretch, but so were Josh Jacobs and Isiah Pacheco. Running backs have only logged four touches in the red zone. On the season as a whole, the Dolphins are ranked sixth-best.

A lower offensive ceiling and a tough matchup have been established. Tripling down, in games where the Titans fall behind by several scores, rookie running back Tyjae Spears is granted more playing time. Miami is favored by 13 and beat teams currently under .500 by an average of 14.6 points.

Henry isn't a sit (it's extremely difficult to bench one of the best running backs of this generation) but there are more than enough reasons to be concerned about a down week.

 

D'Andre Swift at Dallas

Can't blame any injury, D'Andre Swift was flat-out bad against San Francisco. Kenneth Gainwell operated as the dependable, steady option for Philadelphia. The coaching staff trusts him more on third downs and other passing situations. Being off the field on third downs takes several reception opportunities away from Swift.

It's not that he's incapable of catching the ball on early downs. Six targets are great for almost every running back. Catching only two of them for seven yards is not.

The matchup against Dallas this week presents a similar challenge to San Francisco. The two NFC contenders are in the same range for fantasy points allowed to running backs. In Week 9 against the Cowboys, Swift averaged just 2.39 yards per carry on 18 attempts. His day was salvaged by two catches for 31 yards. If Gainwell takes as many snaps away from Swift as he did last week, that stat line could look even uglier for this NFC East rematch.

 

Khalil Herbert / D'Onta Foreman / Roschon Johnson vs. Detroit

D'Onta Foreman (ankle) is back practicing this week. That means for just the third time this season, all three of Chicago's top running backs will be active on game day. One of those instances was Week 1 when each got at least five carries. Then, the Bears decided to keep Foreman on the sidelines as a healthy scratch until Johnson and Herbert both missed time.

In that span, Foreman showed that he was the best pure runner of the trio. He's secured his spot in the rotation. Their second game together came in Week 11, also against Detroit. Foreman received six carries, Johnson the same, and Herbert with an inefficient 16 for 35 yards. Foreman was still, sort of, the odd man out, playing the least amount of snaps out of the three. Herbert led the way with 43 percent. Last week, when Foreman sat with his ankle ailment, Johnson led the way with 15 touches and 74 percent of the snaps.

The point of that whole breakdown is that the Bears aren't decisive about which runner they prefer. They may be deciding based on matchups and game scripts, or they're still trying to find which one fits best with Justin Fields. They may be changing their approach once again if practices leading up to their rematch against the Lions are any indication.

If all three backs receive a healthy amount of touches on Sunday, then none of the trio will be good for fantasy football. The Lions are too good of a defense (fourth-fewest attempts and second-fewest yards to running backs) for a part-time runner to be successful.

Team RB Attempts RB Yards YPC
San Francisco 177 678 3.83
Detroit 214 738 3.44
Chicago 223 765 3.43
Jacksonville 210 780 3.71
Philadelphia 206 799 3.87

 

Garrett Wilson vs. Houston

He was drafted to be great, and now he's proving it.

Oh, you thought I was talking about Garrett Wilson? He can't be great with the carousel of mediocrity New York is parading around at quarterback. I'm talking about the cornerback he'll see the most of on Sunday, Derek Stingley Jr.

The former third-overall pick has been locking down opposing wideouts that match up against him at the line of scrimmage. Against Denver, he was thrown at four times, but none of those targets were secured.

Wilson's saving grace could come from snaps in the slot. Wilson has lined up inside for over 20 snaps in each of the last six games. Before the bye week, that happened once. The Texans are beatable in the slot. The Jets' offensive coaching staff should attack that weakness with their top receiving weapon.

Then again, none of that may matter due to the Jets' quarterback situation. Tim Boyle is all the way out (released after two starts), Trevor Siemian is back to the bench, and Zach Wilson is being tasked with leading the team once again. The receiving Wilson will earn many of the targets from the throwing Wilson, but he's posting just a 55% catch rate this season. His catchable target rate ranks 78th among wideouts. In Zach Wilson's last start (Week 11 at Buffalo), Garrett Wilson went the entire first half without a reception.

Zach Wilson may be an upgrade over Boyle, but it's like upgrading from a used 1995 Toyota Corolla to a 1998 Ford Windstar.

Note: Just like Stroud, check back on the forecast for this game on Sunday morning. It could be messy.

 

Adam Thielen at New Orleans

As it turns out, the dismissal of head coach Frank Reich was the worst thing to happen to Adam Thielen (outside of signing with Carolina to begin with). The former Viking was a WR1 with Reich calling the plays, even on a putrid offense that is only racking up 171 passing yards per game. Since Thomas Brown took over play-calling duties, he's averaging under 10 PPR points and logged a game in which he caught one pass for two yards.

It seemed inevitable. Thielen is, after all, 33 years old and did not project to be a factor for fantasy football in the offseason. He's also not part of their future. In a lost season, the coaches are now relying more on rookie second-round pick Jonathan Mingo, who has topped 60 yards in each of the last two games and saw a career-high 10 targets against Tampa Bay.

Thielen's back-t0-back duds came against poor pass defenses (Tennessee and Tampa Bay) as well. It may only get worse as the Panthers travel to New Orleans, who rank among the best defenses against fantasy football wide receivers. Managers can't trust the veteran until he reverts to the early-season version of himself.

 

Jordan Addison at Las Vegas

Joshua Dobbs' season-high passing yards mark is 268. With the buzz the Passtronaut is receiving, one would assume it was higher, but a lot of his damage in fantasy football has come because of his rushing ability. Truth is, he's still the below-average passer that was cut several times throughout his career.

In 12 games this season with Arizona and Minnesota, Dobbs has supported two double-digit PPR wide receivers just twice. Michael Wilson barely squeaked past 10 points in one of those examples. On many occasions, Dobbs couldn't even assist one wideout.

Jordan Addison failed to reach double-digits in the last two games with Dobbs under center. The rookie is still getting open, but not connecting with Dobbs in the same way he was with Kirk Cousins.

Addison won't even be the alpha wideout moving forward. Justin Jefferson is returning in Week 14. With several extra weeks of rest, the All-Pro shouldn't be under any snap restrictions against Las Vegas. If Dobbs is supporting any wide receiver on Sunday, it's the man who is about to reset the market for wide receivers.

 

Tee Higgins vs. Indianapolis

Similar to Addison and Dobbs, can Jake Browning play well enough for two wide receivers to be fantasy-relevant? Joe Burrow's injury replacement was dealing on Monday night to the tune of 354 yards. Ja'Marr Chase was phenomenal (11/149/1), but his running mate was from far that. Higgins only logged three catches for 36 yards. Those were the only passes that flew in his direction on 78% of the snaps.

When looking at the bigger picture, Higgins only has two good games (Weeks 2 and 9) this season, even when he and Burrow were healthy. He hasn't lived up to the high draft capital cost for fantasy managers.

When talking about the best pass defenses in the league, the Colts probably aren't even in the first 10 or 15 teams that come to mind. But they've been surprisingly strong against wide receivers recently. In the last four weeks, they've given up the second-fewest catches and fourth-fewest yards to the position. Granted, that came against the Titans, Colts, Patriots, and Buccaneers (and Mike Evans had a great game). However, Chris Olave and Amari Cooper also had quiet games against Indy dating back further.

 

Evan Engram at Cleveland

The touchdown drought for Evan Engram is broken, but the entire Jacksonville offense may be broken due to the injury to quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He hasn't been ruled out yet, but it's hard to imagine he suits up just days after suffering a high-ankle sprain.

C.J. Beathard is slated to get the start otherwise and he relied on the big tight end late in the game when the Jaguars tried to rally and squeak out a win. It's a small sample size and not enough to conclude Beathard's preferred targets. The veteran was likely taking what the defense gave him, which would make sense given that Cincinnati is one of the worst teams against fantasy tight ends.

The other team in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns, is the toughest matchup for tight ends. The 31 other teams in the NFL have allowed over 400 receiving yards to the position this season. The Browns have only surrendered 262. Similarly, 27 passes have been caught against Cleveland by tight ends. Every other team has given up 40 or more.

For a tight end like Engram, who relies more on receptions and yards than touchdowns to deliver for fantasy managers, the matchup can't be any worse.



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