Disrespected Allen to match Jackson’s moves
Josh Allen, Buf, QB (39 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $30)
Matchup: vs. Bal
Vegas Line/Total: Bal -5.5, 44
The multidimensionality of Lamar Jackson has dazzled and dazed the competition. His uncanny ability to dissect defenses on designed/opportunistic runs and via airborne lasers are why he’s the talk of the NFL. The face of arguably the best team in the league, he deserves the hardware and all the sunglasses.
Allen isn’t on the same plane as Jackson, but he isn’t far off. Commanding a very underrated Buffalo squad, he’s the poor man’s Lamar, an all-purpose passer who’s quietly and steadily advanced his game throughout the season. Once unable to hit a parked UPS truck from 10 yards out, he’s greatly improved his accuracy. Dead last in adjusted completion percentage last season, he’s posted a respectable 74.4 rate in the category. Top-10 in fantasy points per dropback and No. 5 in overall fantasy points scoring among signal-callers, he needs more praise.
Now with the second season underway and Allen placed on an enormous stage facing Baltimore at home, this is his chance to make a statement. It won’t be easy. The Ravens’ secondary, similar to the Buffalo QB, is under-appreciated. Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey comprise one of the unfriendliest units in the league. This season, they’ve allowed 7.1 pass yards per attempt, an 8.6 average depth of target, 244.0 pass yards per game, 0.83 vertical touchdowns per contest and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to QBs.
Buffalo’s defense drowned Dak Prescott and the ‘Boys in gravy last Thursday, but Jackson presents a unique and extremely difficult challenge. In a heavyweight bout, Allen matches Jackson punch for punch.
Fearless Forecast: 247 pass yards, 1 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 48 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 23.7 fantasy points
Montgomery nearing mandatory play territory?
David Montgomery, Chi, RB (52 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: vs. Dal
Vegas Line/Total: Dal -3, 43
Montgomery is the on again, off again girlfriend who this balding jackass simply cannot quit. Despite his limited burst and steady two-yards slams, it’s the the hip swivels, break-tackle ability and smooth hands which elevates the body temp. As Yahoo’s resident dorky Ross, he’s indeed my Rachel.
Cashing in for 87 combined yards (on 18 touches) and a game-winning receiving TD on Thanksgiving in Detroit, the rookie logged his finest fantasy performance in weeks. The Bears offensive line, normally incapable of creating holes for a mouse, actually formed sizable creases for the running back. As a result, Monty was able to log numerous five-plus yards gains, shaking defenders while generating enough momentum to drive through initial contact. Hanging out with David Johnson and Kalen Ballage in the basement in YAC per attempt for much of the season, he notched a laudable 2.69 in the category. People constantly diss the youngster due to his lack of speed, which is fair, but he, like any running back, needs space to be effective. The rookie is crazy crafty and elusive.
On another Thursday game, Montgomery should flash. Buffalo’s trench trampling of Dallas was no aberration. It’s near the bottom in power run success and run-stuff percentages allowed according to Football Outsiders. Sustain blocks, barrel downhill and walk away with sparkling numbers — that’s the winning formula against the Cowboys. Since Week 5, six rushers have scored at least 11 fantasy points against them. Monty will soon add to the list.
Fearless Forecast: 17 attempts, 62 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.5 fantasy points
Hunt a sneaky top-20 option in Week 14
Kareem Hunt, Cle, RB (44 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: vs. Cin
Vegas Line/Total: Cle -8, 43
It’s Christmas cookie season. And my bowl full of jelly is here for it. Some prefer the standard sugar caked with icing. Others fancy gingerbread. But the mother of all holiday confectionaries is the always underrated peanut butter topped with a Hershey kiss. Parking lot fisticuffs for anyone who vehemently disagrees.
Hunt, the PB/kiss delicacy of running backs, should satisfy the sweet tooth, and your fantasy box scores. Since his reinstatement, he’s worked seamlessly in tandem with Nick Chubb, seeing action on 57.7 percent of Cleveland’s snaps. Deployed in a similar fashion as L.A.’s Austin Ekeler, he’s become an integral primary pass catcher for Baker Mayfield while also occasionally spelling Chubb on the ground. Over the past four games, he’s grabbed at least five balls three times while scoring twice. Forcing a missed tackle 51.1 percent of the time (WOW!), he’s exuded his prior form, albeit in limited doses.
This week, Hunt could easily exceed his 12-touch season high. This is Cincinnati for crying out loud, a team which trots out a herd of cuddly kittens each week on defense. On the year the Bengals have given up 4.7 yards per carry, 5.1 receptions per game, 159.0 total yards per game, 12 total touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points to rushers. Also No. 28 in adjusted line yards allowed, they’re a sorrowful front which Chubb and Hunt should pound relentlessly.
Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 47 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.4 fantasy points
Anderson to accelerate vs. meek Miami
Robby Anderson, NYJ, WR (27 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $19)
Matchup: vs. Mia
Vegas Line/Total: NYJ -6, 44
Drive around West Palm Beach and you’ll surely come across luxury yachts and pricey foreign sport cars. McLarens, Lambos, Ashton Martins — if you’re lucky enough to have it, flaunt it, that’s the motto within the zip code.
Against visiting Miami, Anderson, the Bugatti of the Jets’ receiving corps, is sure to burn rubber.
This is dream matchup for the receiver to push pedal to metal. Anderson, No. 5 in average depth of target (15.9) and in the top-quarter in total air yards, is in quite the advantageous position. The Dolphins have surrendered a 9.6 average depth of target, the sixth-most total air yards and the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. He’s slated to clash with Nik Needham in coverage, a DB who’s coughed up a 96.8 passer rating and 1.37 yards per snap to his assignments.
Anderson, who scored two touchdowns in his past three games and totaled 187 yards in his past two contests, should greatly improve on his uneventful 2-33-0 line logged Week 9 in Miami. He and Sam Darnold, No. 6 in adjusted completion percentage since Week 11, get back on the right foot after last Sunday’s forgettable effort in Cincinnati.
Anderson, eerily similar to what he accomplished this time last year, is revving the engine during the most opportune time.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 83 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.8 fantasy points
Start Parker, advance to Round 2
DeVante Parker, Mia, WR (59 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $20)
Matchup: at NYJ
Vegas Line/Total: NYJ -6, 44
Though he’s more ballyhooed and far more talented comparatively, Parker is following the unexpected later-than-expected career breakout similar to former waiver gem, TE Gary Barnidge. Once picked No. 1 overall by Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell in a celebrity draft yours truly hosted, Parker, emerging in Year 5, is an anomaly, to say the least. But fantasy football never fails in springing surprises. Every year, someone completely unforeseen rises to the forefront.
To say Parker is hot would be an understatement. Surpassing 10 fantasy points in seven of his past nine contests, the dude is a Carolina Reaper personified. Over that stretch he’s averaged 5.2 receptions and 80.3 yards per game while crossing the chalk six times. All the more impressive, he’s tallied 10.8 yards per target and 0.30 fantasy points per target (WR6) during that span. In rhythm with “The Lorax,” Ryan Fitzpatrick, the pair have written poetry on the field. It’s baffling, despite the statistical explosion, Parker is still started in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.
This week, it’s nearly impossible to bench him. Miami welcomes the Jets’ charitable secondary. On the year, New York has allowed just 6.9 pass yards per attempt, but the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs. His projected jousting opponent, Arthur Maulet, has conceded a 80.8 passer rating and 75.0 catch percentage. Parker’s suddenly tacky hands, high-point abilities and sharpened routes will be tough for the DB to wrangle. He should race past his 4-57-1 line from the first clash with New York.
With the Giants and Bengals on the docket after Week 14, Parker is sure to reward his owners with a shiny new trophy. PLAY THE MAN!
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 86 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.6 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started in Yahoo leagues)
Alexander Mattison, Min, RB (1 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: vs. Det
Vegas Line/Total: Min -14, 42.5
At this point on the fantasy calendar, Dalvin Cook was supposed to be folded, placed in a box and stashed in a corner to collect dust. The injury imp, who has a fondness for the rusher’s flesh, was to rear its hideous head and prematurely derail the fragile RB’s season. Yet here we are, Week 14, Cook is still tearing up the league and Mattison is fixed as second fiddle, though the incumbent dodged a HUGE bullet Monday in Seattle. This is why you should never be overtly influenced by what could happen injury-wise. This is also why handcuffing is often a wasted strategy.
The setup for Cook was magnificent — zone-blocking scheme, improved line, supportive defense. Healthy and productive, he’s run roughshod through the competition, evidenced by his No. 2 overall standing and top-10 contributions in elusive rating and yards after contact per attempt. His complement has also benefited, though in spurts. On 7.8 touches per game, he’s totaled 3.36 yards after contact per attempt.
This week, the 1-2 Vikings punch should levy a knockout blow on Detroit. The Lions, No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to the RB position, have given up 154.4 total yards per game, 4.2 yards per carry and 18 total touchdowns to the position. Equally laughable in adjusted line yards and run-stuff percentage, the Motor City cats are hairless.
It’s risky counting on a workload-limited option, but for those of you who play in challenging formats, Mattison is in line to churn out meaningful numbers.
Fearless Forecast: 9 carries, 46 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.4 fantasy points
BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Ten (Ten -3; $30) – Last week, Nick Foles, blessed with a magically delicious matchup, was listed in this space. However, benched in favor of Gardner Minshew, the Q-tip finished with one or negative points depending on your league’s scoring system. Ah yes, the good old-fashioned Big Noise #KissofDeath. Beware, Tannehill could suffer a similar fate, though it’s unlikely. Humming along over since being inserted into the starting lineup, the passer has eclipsed 19 fantasy points in four of his past six games. He’s thrown numerous strikes, taken ample shots downfield, chewed up real estate on the ground and generally looked no where close to the QB who fell out of favor in Miami. This week Tanny and Co. travel to Oakland to face a Raiders secondary in disarray. On the year, the Raiders have yielded a 9.1 aDOT, 8.2 pass yards per attempt, 275.6 pass yards per game, 11 total QB touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to the position. For the stream crowd, he, Ryan Fitzpatrick (at NYJ), Sam Darnold (vs. Mia) and Jacoby Brissett (at TB) are the top wavier options. (FF: 267-2-0-26, 21.3 fpts)
RB: Devonta Freeman, Atl (Atl -2; $20) – Overpaid and oft-injured, Freeman, much like the Falcons as a whole, has failed miserably to meet even depressed expectations. Physical setbacks, a flimsy offensive line and negative scripts sapped his fantasy relevancy. Only once since Week 7 has he compiled nine or more fantasy points in a game. Equally damaging, he’s No. 49 in elusive rating and No. 53 in yards after contact per attempt (2.32). If not for his prominent receiving role, he would be a punctured inner-tube floating in the free agent pool. This week, Freeman has a golden opportunity to inflate the bottom line. His opponent, Carolina, is a joke versus the run. This season the toothless Panthers have surrendered 5.4 yards per carry, 144.9 total yards per game, 22 (!) combined TDs and the most fantasy points to rushers. Brian Hill will be mixed in, but Freeman should at least reach 80 combined with a score. (FF: 13-62-4-25-1, 16.7 fpts)
RB: Latavius Murray, NO (NO -3; $14) – Whatever the culprit — scheme, bad luck, a bum ankle, backfield competition — many in Fantasyland are losing their (expletive) over Alvin Kamara’s TD drought. Scoreless in six-straight games, the popular first-round pick has fallen woefully shy of the monster numbers most pegged him for preseason. Murray’s presence is partially responsible for the downturn, but reverting to a secondary role with Kamara on the field (7.5 tchs/g last four), he deserves only partial blame. This week, the disdain toward Latavius could increase. Then again, he and Kamara each could roll into the end zone. Why? San Francisco isn’t the unbendable wall it was earlier in the season. Over its past five contests, it has surrendered 4.7 yards per carry, 96.4 rush yards per game and three touchdowns to the position. In a Sean Payton game plan with a more run-centered lean, both Saints rushers will prove vital. (FF: 9-46-1, 1-7-0, 11.8 fpts)
WR: Darius Slayton, NYG (Phi -8.5; $19) – Peaking at the right time, Slayton has graduated from buried depth-chart afterthought to near weekly WR3. With Sterling Shepard one concussion away form retirement and Golden Tate inching closer to bridge games, the upstart is New York’s WR2, at a minimum, of the future. Tough in traffic (No. 7 in contested catch rate), useful outside the numbers (14.1 aDOT) and a strong presence inside the red zone (22.0 red-zone target%), he owns plenty of long-term potential. With 30 targets over the past three weeks, he’s benefited from the absences of Shepard, Tate and Evan Engram. But with the TE very iffy for Monday, he could again net a prominent role. The Eagles have conceded the eighth-most air yards, an 8.9 aDOT and the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs. His paddy-cake partner, Jalen Mills, has given up a fair 97.6 passer rating, but Slayton should again be a featured target near the goal line, an area where the Giants could creep into frequently Monday. (FF: 5-61-1, 14.6 fpts)
TE: Vance McDonald, Pit (Pit -1.5; $16) – The Chargers inventively losing in the final moments. Daniel Jones fumbling. And a tight end finding the end zone against the Arizona Cardinals. These are the virtual game’s greatest consistencies. Everyone and their great grandmother predicted a Tyler Higbee TD last week. Those who claim it was a “sleeper” pick weren’t bold enough. Arizona’s unwillingness to defend the position is a strange phenomenon. Clearly it’s aware of the tendency, yet every week no defensive adjustments are made. McDonald, once labeled “undervalued” in draft exercises, has fallen off the map. Behind the likes of Blake Jarwin, Dawson Knox and Jordan Akins in total scoring, he was tossed to the fishes weeks ago by his once optimistic backers. Still top-10 in route separation and red-zone receptions, he’s in a prime position to recoup value lost. TEs average 6.6 receptions, 81.5 yards, 1.1 touchdowns per game and 17.9 fantasy points per game against the Cards. Among WRs, only Michael Thomas has recorded a higher per game average (18.3), and he’s on a historic catch pace. Nuts. Old McDonald may have bought the proverbial farm weeks ago, but this week he’ll bring home the bacon. (FF: 4-38-1, 11.8 fpts)
DST: Green Bay Packers (GB -13.5; $12) – Washington’s upending Carolina on the road was one of the most underreported upsets of the NFL season and was the final straw en route to Ron Rivera being fired. Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson slammed their way to impressive totals and the defense, of all things, rose to the occasion with a late red-zone QB takedown. Though the effort was laudable, Washington is a must-stream against team. Dwayne Haskins is an inaccurate (QB29 in adj. cmp%), turnover-prone, sack-taking QB who Green Bay should pounce on. The Pack will need to stiffen in the trenches and ranks No. 19 in total sacks (28), but it has forced 19 turnovers in 12 games. The Smiths, Za’Darius and Preston, both top-20 in pass rushing productivity according to Pro Football Focus are the perfect Hand in Glove whether in season long or DFS. (FF: 16 PA, 343 YDSA, 4 SCK, 2 TO, 11.0 fpts)