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THE DIVE: Week 14 “Playoff Push”

Are you in? Week 13 was the final week of the regular season in most fantasy leagues. Teams battled for playoff berth, vied for the coveted first round bye, and are now priming to begin a deep playoff run. Playoff berths and seeding can affected by a couple points (or even fractional points in some leagues), therefore staying up to the minute on injuries, depth chart movement, trends, and matchup statistics is of the utmost importance. Week 13 featured it’s share of headlines including the benching of Eli Manning, return of Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski’s dirty hit, the highly anticipated debut of new San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the flinging of a referee penalty flag into the stands by Kansas City Chiefs’ CB Marcus Peters. And those were only some of the headlines!

The weather forecast looks to be a non-factor thus far, but keep a closer eye as we approach Week 14.

QB Derek Carr, Oakland

Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders have not lived up to the great expectations placed on them after their 2016 stellar season. Carr has not climbed to the elite QB1 tier as he seemed to be headed, but has also been hampered with his own injury as well as both injuries and suspensions to key offensive teammates. Carr played his best game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7 when Oakland upset their division rivals with a stunning comeback victory on the final play of the game. He will rise to the challenge again this weekend when Oakland hosts Kansas City who is allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. With Amari Cooper returning from injury, Michael Crabtree back from suspension, and Marshawn Lynch heating up, look for Carr to torch Kansas City for an encore!

Week 14 projection: 275 passing yards; 2 TD

RB Rex Burkhead, New England

Sure, the New England Patriots’ ground attack has been historically difficult to forecast. Fantasy owners are also certainly aware that Dion Lewis seems to be the primary workhorse with Rex Burkhead and James White complementing. However, the trend has shown that Coach Bill Belichick prefers to use Rex Burkhead near the goal line as he has scored a pair of touchdowns in back-to-back games. With a rematch against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football where he scored a pair of touchdowns two weeks ago, look for a sequel this weekend. Burkhead will be visiting the Miami Dolphins who have given up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Starting any Patriots’ running back can be considered a gamble in the first round of the playoffs, but Burkhead should receive the bulk of goal-line snaps and hit pay-dirt again.

Week 14 projection: 75 total yards; 1 TD

WR Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit

With Matthew Stafford likely starting in Week 14 despite suffering a deeply bruised hand last weekend, Marvin Jones Jr. should be in line for another solid performance. The veteran receiver has averaged 91 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns over the last seven games. With a road matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who have surrendered the most fantasy points to wide receivers including most yards and catches, consider Jones Jr. a WR2 or Flex with high upside.

Week 14 projection: 100 receiving yards; 1 TD

TE Charles Clay, Buffalo

Although Tyrod Taylor’s questionable status for Week 14 appears to be more likely doubtful, Charles Clay may be a valuable tight end option for Week 14. If Taylor cannot start, then backup Nathan Peterman will hold the reins. Although Peterman has been ineffective and even dreadful at times this season, having a full week of practice will help prepare him for a matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Clay may be a risky option at tight end this weekend, but should be considered a low-end TE2 when the Buffalo Bills welcome the Indianapolis Colts who have allowed the 9th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Week 14 projection: 50 receiving yards; 1 TD

D/ST New York Jets

The Cleveland Browns were the team that many fantasy owners targeted week to week by plugging and playing their opposing defense each week. Although Cleveland remains winless and still struggling offensively, the Denver Broncos’ offense has become the new “dumpster fire”. Denver scored at least 20 points only once over the last ten games, and now lost eight in a row! They have cycled between quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch without any success. In Week 14, the New York Jets’ defense will take their turn against Denver’s struggling offense, which has allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing defenses for the last eight weeks. The Miami Dolphins’ defense dominated Denver last weekend with three sacks, three interceptions, and a defensive touchdown. Look for the New York Jets’ defense as potential streamer this weekend.

Week 14 projection: 11 points

About Marc Griffis

Marc Griffis has competed in fantasy football, baseball, and basketball leagues since 2005. Marc has written "The Dive" for Fantasy Sharks since 2010. Additionally, his expertise is featured in David Gonos' E-books "101 Fantasy Baseball Tips" and "101 Fantasy Football Tips". Lastly, Marc competed in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association SiriusXM Fantasy Baseball experts' league from 2012-2014.