Since Week 14 is the first round of the playoffs in the majority of fantasy football leagues, I’ve decided to focus mostly on “stud” players in this week’s “Like/Dislike” article. These players are among the best-of-the-best at their respective positions and likely have carried your team to where you are now (playoffs). Without further ado, let’s get started.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina – Stud. Absolute stud. Christian McCaffrey has been playing at an all-world level over the previous six weeks. McCaffrey has totaled at least 32 points per reception (PPR) league points in four of the last five games and has averaged a whopping 34.1 PPR points in those five games. That includes his stat line from two weeks ago against Seattle: 125 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown, 11 receptions, 112 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown for a 50.7 PPR point performance. Think about those numbers. He did all of that in one game. One game. One. Game. To put that 50-plus PPR point performance into perspective, McCaffrey is the only running back this season to tally at least 50 PPR points, and only two running backs in the NFL have totaled at least 40 PPR points this season (Alvin Kamara, twice, and James Conner, once).
McCaffrey leads all running backs in receptions (80), receiving yards (663), is tied for second in receiving touchdowns (6) and has hauled in at least five receptions in all but one game this season. He is wreaking havoc on opposing defenses on a weekly basis and is primed to continue his incredible pace in Week 14 against a horrendous Cleveland defense. Cleveland has allowed 12 rushing touchdowns (tied-29th) this season, and has allowed an average of 113 rushing yards (28th) and 27.8 PPR points per game to opposing running backs (tied-25th). Cleveland is not a good defensive team (how’s that for analysis!), so expect McCaffrey and the Carolina offense to put up at least three or four touchdowns in what is a must-win game. View McCaffrey as an elite, high-end RB1 for this week and for two highly favorable home matchups against New Orleans (Week 15) and Atlanta (Week 16).
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams – Looking back at my “Like/Dislike” articles from this season, I was surprised to notice that I have not written about Todd Gurley at all this season. This one is long overdue. Todd Gurley is having one of the best fantasy seasons of all time. He is arguably the most valuable fantasy football player out there and has backed it up with some ungodly statistics. Gurley is averaging an absurd 28.5 PPR points per game this season, which ranks first among running backs. He has more fantasy points than all but one player (Patrick Mahomes, 350.6 points), which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Gurley has totaled at least 24 PPR points in 10-of-12 games this season. Think about that. He’s also totaled at least 33 PPR points in 4-of-12 games and is the only running back in the NFL who has totaled at least 17 PPR points in every game this season. His 132 rushing yards on 23 carries in Week 13 against Detroit has lifted his rushing yards total to 1,175 on the season, which ranks first in the NFL. As far as touchdowns go, Gurley leads all running backs with 15 rushing touchdowns and 19 total touchdowns. For comparison’s sake, Gurley has more rushing touchdowns than Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott combined.
His 92 targets, 43 receptions, 441 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns all rank in the Top 12 among running backs and is part of what makes him such a superior option at his position. There’s little reason to believe he’s going to slow down any time soon, even against a tough Chicago defense in Week 14. Gurley has shredded every defense (good or bad) this season and has been the backbone of many fantasy teams in the process. Looking a little further ahead, Gurley will face Philadelphia in Week 15 and Arizona in Week 16, both of which are considered favorable matchups for running backs. If you have Gurley on your team, there’s an 86.5 percent chance that you made the playoffs. Trust me, I did the math. Well, not really, but you get the point. It’s been a historic season for the fourth-year player out of Georgia, and he will propel many fantasy teams to a championship this season. Keep him locked into your RB1 spot and revel in the fact that your Week 14 opponent will likely say to himself (or herself), “Damn, he has Gurley, I’m in trouble.”
David Johnson, RB, Arizona – It’s been an up-and-down season for the fourth-year running back out of Northern Iowa. It’s still mind-boggling how the Arizona coaching staff will not feature David Johnson out of the backfield more often, but let’s get to the cold, hard numbers. Johnson has carried the ball 205 times for 761 rushing yards (3.7 yards per carry) and has six rushing touchdowns on the season. Out of the backfield, Johnson has hauled in 35 receptions (on 51 targets) for 328 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. He enters Week 14 averaging 15.8 PPR points per game, which is 12th among running backs heading into Week 14. His numbers aren’t anything to write home about, especially considering fantasy owners spent a Top 5 draft pick on him, but it hasn’t been a total disaster, either. In his last four games, he’s averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 83 rushing attempts, so he has been running better. The problem is he’s seen fewer than five targets in five of the previous six games. Despite the lack of receiving production as of late, Week 14 is a perfect opportunity for Johnson to have his best fantasy performance of the season. Arizona hosts a Detroit defense in Week 14 that has allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game (111) and has surrendered an average of 27.8 PPR points per game (tied-25th) to opposing running backs this season. It’s a juicy matchup, so don’t get cute and think about sitting him. He needs to be in your starting lineup in Week 14 and should be viewed as a high-end RB2 with mid-level RB1 upside for the rest of the season.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago – Tarik Cohen has performed at an exceptional level in his second season in the NFL. He has already exceeded his average draft position from 2018 fantasy drafts and enters Week 14 with 210.8 total PPR points, which ranks 10th among running backs. Those 210.8 total PPR points are more than the totals of David Johnson, Philip Lindsay and Joe Mixon. Cohen has tallied at least 17 PPR points in 6-of-12 games and at least 33 PPR points in 2-of-12 games. His usage as a receiver out of the backfield in the Chicago offense has made him a valuable fantasy running back this season. Cohen has also recorded at least six receptions or 70 receiving yards in 7-of-12 games this year and has hauled in four receiving touchdowns in 12 games.
His 47 receptions, 503 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns all rank in the Top 10 among running backs. What about between the tackles, you ask? While Cohen’s rushing numbers don’t jump off the page, he has still averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry on 66 rushing attempts and has two rushing touchdowns on the year, but it’s his usage out of the backfield that makes him as valuable as he is. A Week 14 matchup against a Jekyll and Hyde Los Angeles Rams defense that has allowed three receiving touchdowns over the last four weeks is sure to be ripe with opportunities for Cohen. Chicago could fall behind early in this game, which means there could be plenty of opportunities for targets out of the backfield for Cohen if Chicago finds itself behind on the scoreboard in the second half. View him as a high-end RB2 with a high weekly upside and start him with confidence in your RB2 spot for the remainder of the season.