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Dynasty owners don’t play week to week, they play long term. However, dynasty owners still need to analyze different aspects of weekly matchups to determine the best time to sell or buy a player.

Make sure you don’t buy that hot rookie too soon and don’t sell the aging veteran too late. Each week, I will analyze different matchups across fantasy football with a dynasty frame of mind.

Let's take some time to see what matchups might pique the interest of dynasty league owners for Week 14 of the 2017 season. Here are some Week 15 matchup previews for dynasty league owners to monitor.

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Patriots at Steelers

Rex Burkhead vs Dion Lewis vs James White vs Mike Gillislee

For the second straight week, I preview a matchup between several teammates at the same positon. The running back positon can be a frustrating thing to analyze sometimes, especially if the team has more than one player they like to utilize. So if I told you a player had four touchdowns and 114 yards in the first two weeks of the season, you would assume they would still be playing, right? Well, when you are the New England Patriots, things can change from week to week. Mike Gillislee was one of the hottest additions this offseason after averaging 5.7 yards per carry in Buffalo last year. A part time role with Buffalo, spelling LeSean McCoy, led to 577 yards and eight touchdowns. It was short lived though as Gillislee hasn’t seen a snap since Week 8.

My pick to be the most impactful back for the Patriots this season was James White, who was the benefactor during the middle portion of the season. White was most impactful during Weeks 4-8, totaling 31 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown. White had never been mistaken for a traditional smash mouth back. He lives off receptions and after an epic Super Bowl performance, I thought his breakout season was right around the corner. Unfortunately, it appears White was only a placeholder until Dion Lewis was healthy. In fact, when you look at the snap counts, you can see a well-executed Bill Belichick plan that left us guessing as usual.

Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
James White 43 30 32 43 35 29 23 20 bye 11 17 18 28 35
Dion Lewis 6 14 12 14 18 29 26 30 bye 21 26 28 26 18
Rex Burkhead 10 8 0 0 0 0 13 27 bye 36 19 28 22 17
Mike Gillislee 24 30 21 18 24 13 13 13 bye 0 0 0 0 0

The one outlier was last week against the Dolphins when New England was trying to play catchup for a majority of the second half. Now though, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis run the backfield and they have done a great job as a one two punch the last few weeks. Both have worked their way into at least flex play consideration the rest of the season, especially in PPR leagues. Lewis has become an all-around threat again. After dealing with injuries the last couple of years, Lewis is back to being healthy and looks like it. Since Week 6, when Lewis saw his snap count jump, he has 98 carries for 508 yards, good for 5.18 yards per carry. He’s made an impact in the return game as well. Having a healthy Lewis is exactly what the Patriots need and want for the playoffs.

Burkhead found little success early on but has exploded recently due to his ability to find the end zone. Burkhead has five touchdowns in the last three weeks. Burkhead has scored three times on six attempts inside the five yard line this year. When they get down to the goal line, Burkhead is the guy who gets the ball. The thing I am most surprised about, is Burkheads contributions in the passing game. Since Week 10, he has 24 receptions for 189 yards, really becoming a total back for the Patriots. The reason for this week’s matchup analysis though, is because it may be one of the best games we seen in 2017.

After the Patriots surprising loss to the Dolphins last week, the Steelers sit alone in the race for home field advantage. Are the Steelers peaking at the wrong time? You could make a case they are the hottest team in football right now, especially on offense. The Pittsburg defense is having issues with health right now, but momentum is carrying this team. The key to beating the Patriots this weekend will be their ability to stop the passing game to running backs.

Patriots running backs have totaled 807 receiving yards on 103 receptions this year, good for 7.83 yards per reception. New England running backs also average 7.92 receptions per game and have seven receiving TDs this season. The Steelers have done a good job of stopping running backs who excel in the passing game. In three games this year, the Steelers were able to hold Dalvin Cook, Duke Johnson and Gio Bernard to five receptions for 20 yards and no touchdowns. The numbers against the Steelers are inflated because they take away the run game so early from opponents and force opposing teams to pass the ball more often. Pittsburg has faced 311 rushing attempts this season, fourth fewest in the NFL.

The Steelers have given up 612 receiving yards to running backs all season while they average 8.74 yards per reception. But even with the receiving yards, they have only given up two receiving touchdowns to running backs. This is an important week for fantasy owners who are still setting a lineup and some of them who have made it to this point, probably have had either Lewis or Burkhead in their lineup at some point. If you are expecting more from these two, I only foresee one having a big week.

What to Watch For

This is going to be one heck of a shootout. These two teams are likely to put up a lot of points this weekend. In fact, the over/under is set at 54.5 right now, so expect there to be some fantasy stars in this one. The star from the Patriots backfield this week will be Burkhead. They will want someone in the backfield that can run the ball or catch it out of the backfield. The Patriots will try to even out the backfield snaps as usual, but game flow and scoring will lead to Burkhead being the top running back for the Patriots this week. As for dynasty owners, the one guy you will want to target this offseason is Burkhead. Lewis is an unrestricted free agent after the season and while Gillislee and White will be around for another season, it has become apparent the Patriots feel Burkhead can handle a large load. Burkhead will show that skillset in this game as the Patriots will need to put up points in order to win. Outside of Rob Gronkowski, I expect Burkhead will have the highest fantasy total in PPR leagues for the Patriots this year.

 

More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy