Week 14 Lineup Lifesavers

Author Ryan Boser

LifeSavers22Lineup keeping you up at night? Fantasy rosters everywhere are suffering from various forms of defeat, but whatever your ailment, I’ve got an elixir. Below are a handful of obscure players available in at least 50% of Yahoo! leagues who can help. Consider it my fantasy medicine cabinet, for emergency use only. Warning: if your ego is still inflated more than four hours after using one of these players, consult a physician.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ten @ Den (Owned in 13% of Y! Leagues)
If you’re in a QB bind this week, my best advice is to sprinkle a little Fitzmagic on the problem area. Ryan Fitzpatrick has averaged 252-1.5 over his last four games, and even though he resembles a constipated hobo when he runs, he’s racking up some serious production with his crazy legs. He’s scored rushing touchdowns in three of six starts, along with a 34 YPG average. Denver’s 30th-ranked pass defense has allowed multiple touchdown passes in three straight, and two of those games were against Alex Smith, who also tacked on 52 and 46 rushing yards. In a game destined for excessive garbage time, you could do a lot worse than Fitzpatrick. 

QB Josh McCown, Chi vs. Dal (Owned in 37% of Y! Leagues)
The emergence of Alshon Jeffery has granted Josh McCown the best current WR tandem in the NFL. Matt Forte is also elite out of the backfield, and Martellus Bennett is no slouch, so McCown is clearly set up for success. And he’s delivering. He’s posted lines of 352-2 and 355-2 the last two weeks in favorable road matchups with St. Louis and Minnesota, and now he comes home to face his softest opponent yet. In their last three road games, the Cowboys’ 31st-ranked pass defense has given up 8 TDs and 351 YPG. McCown is a surefire top-10 option with top-5 upside.    

RB Donald Brown, Ind @ Cin (Owned in 49% of Y! Leagues)
With Trent Richardson (13 snaps last week) sinking into a strict backup role (finally), Donald Brown’s status as an RB2/Flex has really solidified. He’s averaged a touchdown per game over his last four outings, and he’s also cracked a respectable 60 combo yards in three of them. Cincinnati hasn’t allowed a touchdown to opposing backs in seven straight games, and only one back has eclipsed 100 combo yards during that span, but if you can find another 15-touch back available in over 50% of leagues, let me know. Brown’s not going to win you any matchups this week, but he’s a viable Band-Aid who will at least slow the bleeding.

DEEP SLEEPER RB Bernard Pierce, Bal vs. Min (Owned in 23% of Y! Leagues)
Admittedly, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Bernard Pierce hasn’t scored OR topped 50 combo yards in nine straight games. However, he has two things going for him. First, he’s received double-digit touches in four straight games. Second, he plays the Vikings. Over the last three weeks, Minnesota has allowed opposing backs to score four times and average 164 combo yards. That production has to come from somewhere, and in his last seven games, Ray Rice has scored exactly once, and topped 45 rushing yards exactly once. Try Pierce if you’re desperate. It’s science.

WR Jacoby Jones, Bal vs. Min (Owned in 19% of Y! Leagues)
Endorsing back-to-back scrubs against Minnesota? You betcha. The emerging Xavier Rhodes will likely draw Torrey Smith for most of the day, leaving Jacoby Jones to do battle with Pro Football Focus’ 92nd-ranked CB, Chris Cook. You may remember him from the distant background of Alshon Jeffery’s Week 13 highlight film. Jones has leapfrogged Marlon Brown on the depth chart, and he’s totaled 8-156-1 on 13 targets over the last two weeks. All things considered, he’s a viable WR3.

WR Nate Washington, Ten @ Den (Owned in 24% of Y! Leagues)
Predicting game flow can be a dicey proposition, but if Tennessee isn’t in pass-happy catch-up mode by halftime, something has gone terribly wrong for the Broncos. It’s been a common occurrence this season, which has contributed mightily to Denver’s bottom-10 fantasy WR ranking—only Philadelphia has faced more pass attempts. The Broncos have allowed 34-376-3 to opposing WRs over the last two weeks alone, and while Nate Washington’s not the top option for Tennessee, Delanie Walker (concussion) is iffy at best, and Kendall Wright is allergic to the end zone. Washington has notched five catches in back-to-back games, and over the last three weeks he’s averaged 60 yards. That feels like his floor this week, putting him on the WR3 radar.  

PPR DEEP SLEEPER WR Dexter McCluster, KC @ Was (Owned in 9% of Y! Leagues)
Full disclosure: I’ve prescribed Dexter McCluster multiple times in this column over the last couple years, and I’ve lost ever patient. He’s a tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen. However, he’s also a guy who’s caught at least five passes in three straight games (he’s averaged 5.7-52 over that span), he has a sweet matchup, and you can go pick him up right now. Washington is a bottom-third fantasy defense against opposing WRs, and slot CB Josh Wilson has allowed an opposing QB rating of 119.9. McCluster can help you chip your way to victory one check down at a time.

TE Ladarius Green, SD vs. Chi (Owned in 23% of Y! Leagues)
First off, if you’re in a dynasty league, stop reading this and go check your waiver wire. If 23YO Ladarius Green is somehow still available, add him and thank me later, because he’s the next Julius Thomas. As for this week, he’s still part of a 2-TE tandem with the fading Antonio Gates, but the kid has been red hot in recent weeks. He played 61-of-67 snaps last week, and in his last three games, he’s scored twice and topped 80 yards twice. The Giants have given up three TDs to the position in their last two games, and at this point, Green’s a better bet to capitalize on the matchup that Gates.

D/ST Raiders, Oak @ NYJ (Owned in 30% of Y! Leagues)
By now we know to start anybody and everybody against Geno and the Jets, so it’s shocking how widely available Oakland is. Only two teams have allowed more than the five TDs that the Jets have surrendered to opposing D/ST’s, and over the last three weeks, New York has totaled a pathetic 20 points and given up at least 3 sacks and 3 turnovers in each contest. Easy money.

K Alex Henery, Phi @ Det (Owned in 13% of Y! Leagues)
Detroit’s controlled climate, middle-of-the-road pass defense and borderline-elite run defense has been the perfect formula for opposing fantasy kickers. The Lions rank 30th in against kickers, and have allowed the most field goal attempts in the league. Alex Henery has been an extra point machine in recent weeks, but Detroit’s bend-but-don’t-break defense should turn those extra point attempts into three-pointers.