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Stats Perform’s Fantasy Football Outliers: Week 14

By: Gabe Schmittlein

As the NFL season wears on and the playoff picture comes into focus, the fantasy picture becomes unquestionably murkier.

Injuries are piling up, some teams are already looking toward 2020, and several head coaches are on the hot seat.

Third-string quarterbacks starting in Pittsburgh (Devlin Hodges) and Detroit (David Blough) have dramatically reshaped the fantasy outlook for both offenses. Meanwhile, a New York Jets-Miami Dolphins matchup could breathe life into several fantasy matchups if either team is actually interested in winning. Finally, fantasy players will surely have their eyes on a hugely important contest in New Orleans, as the San Francisco 49ers and their stifling defense come to town. The Saints have a mighty impressive defense of their own, though, and it will be interesting to see whether either team can break through offensively.

To guide you through each of these fantasy dilemmas, and others, Stats Perform’s fantasy projections are here.

Stats Perform has pinpointed players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end in a half PPR-scoring format that we project are either higher or lower than other experts’ rankings. For the consensus rankings, we’re using FantasyPros, which aggregates major fantasy sites’ picks, to compare our projections with others in the industry. Half PPR grants a half-point for a reception, a nice blend between standard scoring and full PPR leagues.

Here are Stats Perform’s top undervalued and overvalued players for this weekend:

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs out of the pocket against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, in Atlanta.

Quarterback – Undervalued:

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Stats Perform Ranking: 10

FantasyPros Ranking: 18

ProjectionComp.-Att./CarriesYardsTDs-INTs/TDs
Passing29-423331.8-0.8
Rushing1.150.0

 

In the midst of the Falcons’ disappointing 3-9 season, Ryan has put together an impressive fantasy season. He’s averaging 295.1 passing yards and 1.82 touchdowns, and those stats should get a boost this week with a great matchup against a leaky Carolina Panthers defense.

Last time Ryan went up against the Panthers back in Week 11, he threw for 311 yards and a touchdown. We’re projecting a pretty similar output this time around – 333 yards and 1.8 touchdowns. Ryan also gets his top target, Julio Jones, back after he missed last week’s contest to a shoulder injury.

Quarterback – Overvalued:

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Stats Perform Ranking: 19

FantasyPros Ranking: 9

ProjectionComp.-Att./CarriesYardsTDs-INTs/TDs
Passing23-332481.7-1.0
Rushing1.440.1

 

Many fantasy experts are high on Darnold because of a favorable matchup with the Dolphins this week. Our projection is less optimistic.

In Week 13, Darnold failed to capitalize against the then-winless Cincinnati Bengals – another awful defense – throwing for just 239 yards on 4.98 yards per attempt. The Dolphins defense has looked surprisingly decent over their recent 3-2 burst. They have five interceptions while allowing just 258 passing yards per game in those three victories. They’re not the cakewalk that they once were, and we expect Darnold to continue to struggle.

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Running Back – Undervalued:

Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

Stats Perform Ranking: 10

FantasyPros Ranking: 24

ProjectionCarries/CatchesYardsTDs
Rushes16.3800.3
Receiving4.0370.1

 

For much of the season, Lindsay has remained marred in a time-share with Royce Freeman, limiting his fantasy output. Over the Broncos’ past four games, though, Lindsay has accumulated 55 carries to Freeman’s 20.

Against a Houston Texans run defense that has been gashed in three straight weeks (albeit against the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and New England Patriots), we expect Lindsay to show out. The Texans have also struggled to defend passes to running backs, allowing an average of 59.3 receiving yards against them – so Lindsay’s stock grows even higher in PPR or half PPR leagues.

Running Back – Overvalued:

Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers

Stats Perform Ranking: 26

FantasyPros Ranking: 12

ProjectionCarries/CatchesYardsTDs
Rushing6.5270.2
Receiving1.170.0

 

The 49ers backfield is a difficult unit to evaluate. Despite being one of the most prolific groups in the league, they share carries between three talented backs – Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert – and seemingly favor a different one every week.

In Week 13, with Breida out, Mostert had 146 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against the Ravens. Coleman failed to capitalize on early touches and then was out of the mix for the rest of the game. With Breida back healthy, Coleman may drop to third on the depth chart, limiting any opportunities to impress against a Saints defense allowing just 88.6 rush yards per game (3rd fewest in the league).

Carolina Panthers’ D.J. Moore gets past Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander on Nov. 10, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis.

Wide Receiver – Undervalued:

DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers

Stats Perform Ranking: 19

FantasyPros Ranking: 31

ProjectionCatchesYardsTDs
Receiving7.21030.5

 

We were high on Moore last time the Panthers faced off against the Falcons and he rewarded fantasy owners with eight catches for 95 yards (on a whopping 15 targets). We’re projecting more of the same this time around.

Moore should receive the vast majority of Kyle Allen’s targets and will surely find space to operate against the Falcons’ suspect secondary. The Falcons allow 271.3 receiving yards per game – ninth-most in the league – and Moore figures to be a high-value play even if he doesn’t get into the end zone.

Wide Receiver – Overvalued:

Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

Stats Perform Ranking: 22

FantasyPros Ranking: 11

ProjectionCatchesYardsTDs
Receiving4.2510.2

 

By all measures, Jones has had an excellent season. He’s on pace for 988 receiving yards, which would be the second-highest of his career, and a career-best 12 touchdowns.

Still, with the Lions down to their third-string quarterback, Blough, and a tough matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, we’re not liking Jones’ outlook. In Blough’s first start on Thanksgiving Day against the Chicago Bears, Jones was targeted six times and recorded just three receptions. He got into the end zone to salvage a positive fantasy performance, but it’s going to be tough sledding the rest of the way.

Minnesota Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph reaches to catch a pass for a touchdown against Seattle on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

Tight End – Undervalued:

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Stats Perform Ranking: 12

FantasyPros Ranking: 24

ProjectionCatchesYardsTDs
Receiving3.7420.4

 

Rudolph is in a perfect position this week in a matchup with the Lions, who have had trouble defending tight ends all season. Detroit has given up an average of 50.92 yards and .42 touchdowns to opposing tight ends.

Rudolph has also been on a tear recently. He has six touchdowns in the past six weeks and has benefitted from consistent targets after a slow start. We project him at 0.4 receiving touchdowns in Week 14, trailing only Travis Kelce among tight ends.

Tight End – Overvalued:

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers

Stats Perform Ranking: 19

FantasyPros Ranking: 6

ProjectionCatchesYardsTDs
Receiving3.1250.2

 

McDonald has received a total of four targets in the two weeks since Hodges returned to quarterback for the Steelers, managing only four catches for 22 yards. Hodges simply hasn’t been able to find his tight end, and that’s bad news for McDonald owners.

Even with a good matchup against a weak Arizona Cardinals secondary, McDonald remains a low-end tight end option. The Steelers will likely continue to focus on the run game and a spattering of deep passes – McDonald doesn’t really fit into that picture.