I wanted it to happen, too, folks. The Nick Foles thing. And I still think it probably should have.
Sure, we all probably forgot just how mediocre a player Foles actually is. But he’s got plenty of talent to work with at the Jacksonville WR spots. And the Tampa D has spent most of the year as a ceiling delivery service.
Is that the big change here, though? Are the Buccaneers turning it around on defense? We’ll get more into that later ...
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Titans (23.6% owned in ESPN leagues)
I don’t really believe this owned rate as a good representation of what you likely have available. But I certainly wouldn’t drop Tannehill this week for any other streaming option. He not only ranks 6th in fantasy points among QBs since becoming the starter in Week 7; he also ranks 6th among QBs in Pro Football Focus passing grade over that span. And he leads the league in passer rating.
Does Tennessee’s messiah have some rate stats that are screaming impending regression? Absolutely. He’s leading the league at 9.1 yards per pass attempt, sporting an elite 6.8% passing-TD rate and has even scored 3 times on the ground. But that doesn’t keep him from being a tremendous option against an Oakland D that presents the league’s 2nd-best QB scoring matchup by adjusted fantasy points allowed.
If you rolled your eyes at Tannehill even being included in this category, then consider Panthers QB Kyle Allen for his attractive matchup with the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense has revealed itself as phony over the past 2 weeks after beating up Drew Brees and Allen coming out of the bye. Allen, meanwhile, has delivered passing lines of 256 yards and 3 TDs at New Orleans and 278 and 3 vs. Washington since the Week 11 Falcons debacle.
Last week’s pick: Nick Foles (uh, it was ugly)
Full Week 14 QB rankings
TE: Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (14.9% owned)
Much like with Tannehill at QB, I’m not buying the mere 26.3% owned rate on Jets TE Ryan Griffin here. If you already have him or he’s available, then he’s fine against the Dolphins this week. He’s nearly a toss-up with Gesicki, who sits slightly ahead in our rankings. Griffin disappointed against the Bengals last week, but he drew a solid 7 targets and caught 5.
Gesicki has been the better bet for target volume, though. The 2nd-year Dolphin has seen 6+ in 5 straight games and 7 in each of his past 2 outings. His first clash with the Jets found Gesicki catching all 6 looks for a season-high 95 yards. He enters the rematch off an impressive 5-79-1 line against Philly’s normally tough TE defense.
And his offense is rolling. Miami has averaged 24.6 points over the past 5 games, starting with that home win over the Jets. The Dolphins averaged just 11 points over their 7 straight losses to open the season.
If both Griffin and Gesicki are out of play, then take a shot on Rams TE Tyler Higbee remaining useful against the Seahawks this Sunday. As of this writing, his ESPN owned rate remained in the single digits.
Last week’s pick: Ryan Griffin (19th in PPR, 22nd in non-PPR)
Full Week 14 TE rankings
D/ST: Packers (31.5% owned)
If you picked up and used the Packers last week -- or they’re still available -- then skip this section. They worked out at the Giants last week. And now comes an even better spot back home against Washington. (Nah, those rushing numbers in the surprise win at Carolina don’t scare me.)
But that’s an easy sell. So let’s move to an alternative in case you don’t find Green Bay available: the Buccaneers.
Here’s a defense I like better than our Week 14 ranking. Tampa Bay has turned in its 2 best fantasy outings of the year the past 2 weeks, and that would be true even if you took away the points for the Bucs’ defensive TDs in each contest. Tampa has racked up 11 sacks and 6 takeaways over its past 2 games.
We saw this with Atlanta recently, though. The 2-game “turnaround.” And the Falcons have spent the past 2 weeks showing us we shouldn’t have believed.
I’m not saying the Bucs have morphed into a good defense. But … well, let’s take a look at Pro Football Focus’ weekly grades for Tampa’s pass rush and coverage …
You can see a pretty clear upward trend in the Bucs’ coverage performance. And that has coincided with lineup changes. The team dumped CB Vernon Hargreaves and inserted CB Jamel Dean into the lineup. Rookie CB Sean Murphy-Bunting has seen his slot snaps jump the past 2 weeks and earned an elite coverage grade from PFF for Week 13. Up front, Jason Pierre-Paul has now been back for 6 games, and Carl Nassib returned to health the past 2 weeks.
We’ll see whether these Buccaneers can keep it going and become a fantasy option for Week 15 at Detroit and Week 16 vs. Houston. But I feel decently comfy trying them against the current iteration of the Colts.
Indianapolis has turned the ball over 3, 3, 2, 0 and 3 times over its past 5 games. QB Jacoby Brissett has taken 3+ sacks in 3 of his past 5 outings. And the team scored 17 points or fewer 3 times in that span, including each of the past 2 weeks.
It’s understandable. T.Y. Hilton remains out. Marlon Mack has missed 2 straight contests. Eric Ebron’s gone. And even Brissett is playing through a left knee injury that has him in a knee brace. Now he hits the road as a 3-point underdog.
And the Bucs sit just 2.8% owned on ESPN.
Last week’s pick: Packers (11th in ESPN scoring)
Full Week 14 D/ST rankings