Nobody has any more stacked lineup of fantasy analysts and NFL team reporter as ESPN. It’s the committee’s rare backcourt that is actually a good thing for fantasy managers. Every Tuesday we ask our NFL Nation reporters a series of burning questions to keep you informed of your pickup and roster decisions.
So much for the QB rankings for week 13. The actual goal scorers at the quarterback on Sunday looked like they had been shaken out of a snow globe.
The biggest surprises include: Baker Mayfield (29.46 points) and Matthew Stafford (26.08) landed in the top five in the ESPN standard ranking, even though they were outside the top 20 in the forecasts of the analysts. Derek Carr (31.74) and Cam Newton (23.56) both rebounded tremendously after flopping less than four points a week earlier.
But can these inconsistent quarterbacks keep this up? Can you actually trust them in the fantasy playoffs? As always, you’ve got ESPN’s team reporters covered.
Browns reporter Jake Trotter suggested that Mayfield might actually be worth snapping up for your playoff run now that he’s “regaining the sparkling pass-touch he showed as a rookie”. Especially when you consider that he’ll be playing for the New York Giants (18th pass defense) in week 15 and the New York Jets (31st) in week 16, after hosting the Baltimore Ravens in week 14.
Mayfield threw a season high of 334 yards in the 41:35 victory on Sunday in Tennessee with four touchdown passes in the first half. He’s now the only QB in the NFL to have thrown four TD passes in one half this season – and he’s done it twice (including the second half in Cincinnati in week 7).
Sure, Mayfield’s good days were unpredictable. However, it’s worth mentioning two things Trotter shared in this column over the past few weeks. While backing wide receiver Jarvis Landry last week, Trotter stated that Cleveland’s entire crime suffered in weeks 8-11 from continuing to play in dire weather conditions. If you remove that stretch, Mayfield has done very well in every other game since Odell Beckham Jr. was lost to a torn ACL in Week 7.
Also, following the seventh-week bonanza, Trotter pointed out that Beckham’s injury wouldn’t hurt Mayfield’s imaginary value as much as people would expect – because Mayfield tried at times to force the ball on his elite playmaker. They actually had the lowest degree of completion of any duo in the NFL.
Lions reporter Michael Rothstein was even more supportive of Stafford after throwing 402 yards with three TDs and one interception on former offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s debut as interim coach for Detroit.
“It’s safe to start him again,” said Rothstein, who said Stafford looked more like his 2019 form in the Chicago win from behind. “Bevell’s offensive fired more downfield shots and was more aggressive. Stafford can be counted as QB 1 / High QB 2 in almost every league.”
Although Bevell was already calling the Lions Games under recently sacked head coach Matt Patricia, Rothstein said Bevell’s goal was “to essentially just let Stafford play.”
“That’s why Stafford looked a lot more like the quarterback we saw on Bevell’s offensive in 2019 – ready to shoot shots into the field, OK, with a little more risk and generally more comfortable than at any point in the 2020 season,” said Rothstein . “It’s definitely a different offensive mindset and approach, no doubt.”
The model of inconsistency, Carr now has six games with more than 19 fantasy points this season – and six games with fewer than 16. Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez said this makes sense considering that Carr “has shown.” that he can win games over the dink-and-dunk offense on the west coast, surrender to a ground-it-out run game, and flying against defenses that don’t cover in Hail Mary-type situations. “
That last line, of course, was a nod to Carr’s game-winning 46-yard TD pass, which resulted in Jets Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams being fired – turning Carr’s ups and downs into a monster fantasy performance (381 passes) yards, three passing TDs, one interception, one maddening TD).
Carr may not be the best choice for consistent production. Gutierrez believes, however, that he “needs to develop some gunfighting affairs to keep the Raiders’ playoff hopes alive”. And he expects Carr to continue feeding Darren Waller after the “epic performance” of the tight end against the Jets with 13 catches for 200 yards and two TDs.
For the second year in a row, the Patriots won a game even though Newton had thrown less than 100 yards. But Newton ran the ball 14 times for 48 yards and two TDs – and Patriots reporter Mike Reiss said he expected Newton to remain a fantasy asset as the 6-6 Patriots “gamble for their playoff lives”.
Field Yates wonders at Cam Newton’s performance in a 45-0 charger shutout in Week 13.
Newton’s 12 rush attempts in the first half of Sunday’s 45-0 game at the Los Angeles Chargers were most of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
“They can’t afford to lose another game. What this game told us is that they won’t hold anything back when it comes to Newton as a rusher. They will lead him as often as they have to,” said Tear. However, he pointed out that relying on these goal-to-go results would take you a risk.
“Because there are still important questions about whether you can be consistently productive in the passing game,” said Reiss. “Also think of the strength of the next two opponents – the Rams and Dolphins. Pretty good defense there.”
Now for the rest of our weekly tour of the league:
As bear reporter Jeff Dickerson said, “There is always a need to be careful when it comes to bears’ offenses.” And he was “burned once” with high expectations of Montgomery. But Dickerson said he thinks it’s actually okay to trust Montgomery in fantasy playoff lineups after his two best performances of the season in the past two weeks (143 yards pre-scrimmage and a receiving TD at week 12, 111 yards before the scrimmage and two rushing TDs in week 13).
Two of Montgomery’s next three opponents (against Houston in Week 14 and Jacksonville in Week 16) are among the top five teams to drop the most fantasy points this year.
“He ran with a clear mind against Detroit on Sunday and had a 100-yard game that was a terrible loss the week before at Green Bay,” said Dickerson. “Just don’t come after me if it doesn’t work out. It’s the bears, after all!”
Meanwhile, it looks like rookie Kmet has replaced veteran Jimmy Graham as the tight end of the bears to take on a plane in deep leagues. Kmet, who got into Sunday with just eight career receptions, caught five passes for 37 yards and a TD while Graham had no catches.
“I was hoping Graham would have another good day of fantasy against the Lions, but that went up in smoke,” said Dickerson. “The bears have switched to Kmet and targeted him seven times in week 13. For the fantasy managers who end up desperate, Kmet is a good late pickup because the bears want to use him – after they’ve seen a lot of the Years have ignored – For the past four weeks. “
Patrick has passed his colleague Jeudy on fantasy points in the past three weeks. In the two games they played with real quarterbacks, Patrick has nine catches for 163 yards and two TDs, while Jeudy only has four catches for 42 yards.
However, Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold pointed out that both wideouts saw four goals in this past game. And he said Jeudy’s decreased production had more to do with being constrained by ankle and shoulder injuries in recent weeks. Legwold said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the rookie draft pick get more involved in the first round as they get healthier.
“Patrick could be a slightly safer bet in the coming weeks, only marginally because he’s playing better than ever before. And if the Broncos play a lot of ball, he’s going to get more snaps in those staff groups because he’s such a physical player “said Legwold. “But Drew Lock is always looking at Jeudy, so Jeudy’s lack of goals against the Chiefs was more of a physical problem. When he feels better things move back and forth between them – and so do the goals of KJ Hamler, a broad receiver , have increased steadily. “
Field Yates and Stephania Bell agree that the fact that he was allowed to return against the Raiders, despite Brandin Cooks’ history of concussions, should mean that he will be available in week 14.
Coutee is likely to be the hottest waiver wire pickup in the fantasy this week after the receiver caught eight passes for 141 yards for the third year following Will Fuller V’s end-of-season suspension. Texas reporter Sarah Barshop said Coutee should be worth it.
“Coutee will continue to hit goals for the next four games. Houston is a first pass offense even with David Johnson back from injured reserves. And without Fuller, Deshaun Watson needs someone to throw at,” said Barshop. “Coutee had two big games in 2018, his rookie season, but fell out of favor with former head coach Bill O’Brien and was a healthy scratch for most of the 2019 season.”
For journeyman Hansen, who had five catches for 101 yards in his first NFL game action since 2017, it is more difficult to expect a repetition performance.
“Hansen had a strong training camp for the Texans but his inclusion in front of round five freshman Isaiah Coulter came as a surprise,” said Barshop. “I’m not sure he’s going to get 100 yards every week, but there is clearly a trust between him and Watson that has been developed on the practice field.
“Expect Brandin Cooks and Coutee to get most of their goals, with Hansen operating in sets with three recipients next to them, at least until Randall Cobb may return.”
Don’t be alarmed that Alfred Morris scored two touchdowns away from Gallman on Sunday. Giant reporter Jordan Raanan said Gallman was “a must-have for RB1 at this point in the imagination”.
“There’s no getting around it,” Raanan said of Gallman. “He’s scored 15 or more goals in four straight games, and the Giants are committed to the run regardless of opponent. Gallman hit a career high of 135 meters in Seattle on Sunday, and the TDs were only cultivated by Morris because on both occasions he needed a breather after long runs. Gallman still overtook Morris 27-11 against the Seahawks, and he has 13 red zones compared to Morris’ four during this stretch. There should be no hesitation in bringing Gallman into their line-up every week. “
Stephania Bell and Field Yates discuss the concussion Frank Gore suffered against the Raiders and the impact the fantasy had on La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson.
The second year running back should also be a popular pickup after running 104 yards and a TD on Sunday 22nd as a result of Frank Gore’s early departure with a concussion.
Jets reporter Rich Cimini said he expected Johnson to get another leap as the leader next week if Gore can’t get back from the concussion. However, Cimini cautioned that Johnson will likely share time with third-year RB Josh Adams, who won 74 yards on his own with eight runs on Sunday.
“I give Johnson a small edge in terms of the bigger workload, but it might depend on the game plan and the opponent. Right now I’d say Johnson will be 1A and Adams will be 1B,” said Cimini, pointing out that Gore did it At some point, you might get back to the mix too, as head coach Adam Gase has always relied so much on Gore.