Week 14 marks the start of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues, meaning all of your lineup choices need to be made wisely. Thursday Night Football brings us a matchup between the Jaguars and Titans. The Titans head into the game as five-point home favorites with the total sitting at just 37.5. For an in-depth look at every fantasy relevant player from this game be sure to check out Evan Silva’s Matchup Column.
Emmanuel Sanders tears Achilles
The biggest news of the day came during Broncos practice when their No. 1 receiver suffered a serious injury. It wasn’t certain until the MRI, but the results confirmed the wideout tore his Achilles. He’ll end his season with 71 receptions, 868 yards and four touchdowns. With Demaryius Thomas traded to the Texans, there was a big opportunity for Sanders to shine in the final year of his contract. The opposite now will ring true for potential free-agent suitors as Sanders turns 32 in March. The track record for players returning from an Achilles’ tear isn’t encouraging, but the sample size is certainly small. 49ers CB Richard Sherman is an outlier but has been able to overcome the same injury and is playing at an extremely high level. Sanders will likely get a chance somewhere on a small contract once he’s fully healed.
With Sanders out of the picture, the Broncos’ receiving corps is looking awfully thin. Rookie wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton lead the way as their No. 1 and 2 options. Sutton was already seeing significant playing time after they traded away Demaryius Thomas, so his role will likely remain similar, although he should see a bump in targets. He has seen 5 > 6 > 4 > 7 targets the past four weeks. Hamilton hasn’t seen much playing time until last week’s 80 percent snap count but is an intriguing prospect the Broncos selected with the No. 113 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Our blurb on draft day mentioned,
“Hamilton (6’1/203) was a rare four-year starting wideout for the Nittany Lions, graduating as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (214), second in receiving yards (2,842), and fourth in receiving TDs (18). PFF College credited Hamilton with a nation-best 73.3% catch rate when targeted 20-plus yards downfield in 2017. Hamilton tested as a studly 78th-percentile SPARQ athlete before the draft with 4.52 wheels and an impressive 6.84 three-cone time. Hamilton isn’t particularly big or straight-line fast, but he is a ball-skills technician with underrated upside.”
In addition to Hamilton, Tim Patrick will see an increase in playing time and flashed upside on a touchdown catch in Week 9 against Kansas City. Despite seeing an increase in snaps for the young wideouts, waiting to see how usage and targets shakeout may be the wisest decision before starting any in fantasy leagues.
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Mitchell Trubisky likely to play in Week 14
On Wednesday, Coach Matt Nagy said he “feels strong” that Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) will play Week 14 against the Rams. This was reflected in his practice status as Trubisky was able to fully participate. It almost guarantees his return for an important home matchup against the Rams. The Bears are currently 3-point underdogs at most sportsbooks and may move closer to even once Trubisky is officially a “go.”
The difference between Trubisky and Chase Daniel is massive, most notably in yards per attempt (6.26 without him to 8.23 with him), and explosive pass percentage (5.3 percent without to 16.5 percent with). The Bears will look to take advantage of the Rams’ exploitable defense.
Sam Darnold plans to play
After missing the past three games for the Jets, Sam Darnold is expected to return as the starter this week after practicing fully on Wednesday. According to TheQuantEdge.com’s injury tool, Sam Darnold has averaged more than a whole yard per attempt and three percent better in passing success rate than Josh McCown. TE Chris Herndon has been coming on as of late but saw a 15.2 percent target share with McCown at the helm compared to just 7.6 percent with Darnold as the starter. Herndon might not be the best streaming play this week.
Bengals placed WR A.J. Green (toe) on injured reserve, ending his season. Green has one year left on his contract and will try to make the most of it entering his age-31 season. WR Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon are the only remaining options on a once-explosive offense. … Giants placed SS Landon Collins (shoulder) on injured reserve, ending his season. Collins was already ruled out for Week 14 after suffering an injury last week against the Bears. He turns 25 next month and is an impending free agent. … Gus Edwards (ankle) expects to play Week 14 against the Chiefs. Edwards fought through an ankle injury last week and was able to churn out 82 yards. He should be able to take advantage of the Chiefs miserable run defense. … DeSean Jackson (thumb) was not catching passes at Wednesday’s practice. It’s very possible Jackson could miss the rest of the season, elevating Chris Godwin to a must-start each week in fantasy. … Redskins placed CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) on injured reserve, ending his season. This is a significant loss for the Redskins who will be losing their top cornerback per Pro Football Focus’ ratings. … Cardinals signed OT Joe Barksdale. This is the corresponding move for LT D.J. Humphries heading to injured reserve. He is a solid replacement. … ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley expects Lamar Jackson to start Week 14 against the Chiefs. The Ravens have been the run-heaviest team in the league with Lamar Jackson starting and that will likely continue against the Chiefs soft run-defense. … Dolphins CB Xavien Howard is week to week with a knee injury. This is good news for the Patriots who saw Howard shut down their No. 1 wideout Brandin Cooks in their meeting at Miami last season. … Joe Mixon (foot) was limited in Wednesday’s practice. This is a new injury, making it something to monitor. He is still viewed as likely to play in Week 14 against the Chargers. … Jaylen Samuels said he’ll be the Steelers’ starting running back Week 14 against the Raiders. Despite being the “starter” he will be splitting work with Stevan Ridley. It’s unlikely we see either back assume too much of the workload. … Evan Engram (hamstring) returned to a limited practice on Wednesday. This makes his outlook a little brighter but it’s still possible he doesn’t play. …T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) and Eric Ebron both didn’t practice on Wednesday. The Colts are notorious for giving their best players maintenance days, and this is likely just that. … Julio Jones (foot) didn’t practice Wednesday. This is probably just a rest day for a guy who played 77 percent of the snaps last week. … Josh Adams (shoulder) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. This is a new injury for him as he was questionable for last week’s game with a hip injury. It’s likely he will still suit up against Dallas in Week 14. … Keke Coutee (hamstring) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. Even if he does suit up he won’t be fantasy relevant in this game and shouldn’t be trusted. … Kenny Golladay (quad) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. Golladay is likely just resting after playing a full complement of snaps last week against the Rams. … Kerryon Johnson (knee) remained sidelined at Wednesday’s practice. It’s unlikely he will play in this one unless he is able to get in some limited practices this week. … Free-agent WR Kelvin Benjamin went unclaimed on waivers. Maybe this will take a chip off Benjamin’s giant ego. Or not, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter expects Benjamin to resurface quickly. … Sammy Watkins (foot) was limited at Wednesday’s practice. This means Watkins could end up playing this week. His status is one to monitor closely the rest of the week. … Packers placed CB Kevin King (hamstring) on injured reserve. This is a big deal for the Packers defense which has suffered multiple serious injuries this season. … Michael Thomas (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. This is probably just a rest day for Thomas who played on 51-of-51 snaps last week. … Melvin Gordon (knee) remained sidelined at Wednesday’s practice. This is bad news for Gordon who will need to see a limited practice to have a chance to play. It’s unlikely he plays this week against Cincinnati. … Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Doug Martin (knee) should be “good to go” for Week 14 against the Steelers. Martin will draw the start against Pittsburgh this week.
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