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Booms, Busts and Bets: NFL Week 14

The final week of the fantasy regular season is upon us. If you’ve made the playoffs, congratulations! If you’re out, better luck next year. And if you need a win this week to secure your playoff spot, hopefully I can help.

All picks in PPR leagues unless otherwise noted.

Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

Boom/Bust: James Robinson/Urban Meyer

Rather than make two separate points, I decided these may as well be combined. This is mostly me wanting to rant about how Meyer is the worst coach the NFL has seen in decades. I have never witnessed a coach be as petty and immature as Meyer the past two weeks. 

The Jaguars’ offensive roster is full of below-average to downright terrible players at every position. The only bright spot is Robinson, who easily has top-10 running back potential. In Week 13, in the first quarter of the game, Robinson fumbled after being slammed behind the line by arguably the best player in the NFL, Aaron Donald. It’s an understandable error that any player could make, but Meyer decided to bench Robinson instead. He’s the only player on the team who gets punished for every little mistake. 

Fortunately, this has led to a lot of pushback, and Robinson himself said on a talk show that he was benched and should get the ball more. I expect the backlash to Meyer’s terrible decision will force him into giving JRob a big role in Week 14. It’s a lose-lose situation for Meyer, though, as he’ll either look like a weak coach with no control over his locker room, or like a prideful coach who cannot admit his mistakes. Most likely, in my opinion, JRob gets his volume back and Meyer takes one step closer to his inevitable firing.

Bust: Alvin Kamara 

Despite this inclusion, if you have Kamara, he is probably still worth the start. His ceiling is so high, and he’s so dynamic that he can always put up a huge week. However, I would temper expectations for him in his return. This may seem counterintuitive given the match against the Jets, but I think Kamara will lose some of his value with Taysom Hill at quarterback. Kamara’s receiving ability will help him retain value in PPR, but I’d be worried about Taysom taking his ground carries, especially in the red zone. 

Boom: Russell Gage

With the absence of Calvin Ridley and most defensive focus on Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson, Gage has emerged as a key player in the Falcon’s receiving core. The Panthers have an elite secondary that can most likely keep Pitts silent and limit Patterson’s explosive downfield ability. Gage should be the best option to slip through their radar and have a big day. 

Bust: Chuba Hubbard

Despite Christian McCaffrey’s return to the injury list, I don’t love Chuba as a play this week. Cam Newton is a touchdown vulture and will always choose to run it in himself in the red zone. Ameer Abdullah will also take some carries away from Chuba. At the end of the day, I don’t see any of the running backs receiving enough volume to have fantasy relevance.  

Boom: Julio Jones

Jones is expected to make his return in Week 14, and there aren’t many teams better to do that against than the Jacksonville Jaguars. With AJ Brown and Derrick Henry still out, Julio should be the main target on offense. That may lead to more focus from the defense, but Jones is more than used to beating double teams and should have a triumphant return as the Titans seek to stay in the race for the No. 1 seed.

Best value bets

(Using FOX Sports odds at time of writing. Disclaimer: Picks are merely the opinion of the author. Gambling involves financial risk. The author is not responsible for losses incurred from gambling.) 

New Orleans Saints: Cover spread (Spread: -5)

  • The Saints are on a five-game losing streak for the first time in Sean Payton’s coaching career. Payton does not want that to stretch to six, and there’s no better team to break that with than the Jets. The Jets are a much lower caliber team than the Cowboys, so I don’t expect Hill to have another four-interception week. I do expect another big game on the ground for him, which should help the Saints cruise to a comfortable win.

Detroit Lions: Cover spread (Spread: +7.5)

  • The Lions are excited, coming off of their first win and first game over 20 points since Week 1 (an abysmal stat that I did not believe at first). The Broncos are a bizarre team to watch — in the last four weeks, they’ve had horrible losses against the Chiefs and Eagles, but dominant wins over the Chargers and Cowboys. I think they get the win against Detroit, but it’ll be a game where Detroit keeps it competitive until the end.

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Football Team: Over 48 points

  • The Washington Football Team is hot, with a four-game win streak that has put them in the thick of the Wild Card hunt. Dallas has slowed in recent weeks but has all their offensive weapons back, and is looking to assert their dominance over the NFC East. This game should be a fun one to watch. A win for Dallas will lock them in as the division winner — a win from the WFT blasts that door wide open. I’d bet on a high-scoring affair.

Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans: Under 41.5 points

  • The Seattle Seahawks are not the team we once knew — a big win against their division rival in Week 13 is not enough to convince me that their offense is fully back. The Texans, for their part, have been shut out twice this season and scored less than 10 in nearly half their games. At this point, they have nothing to play for but a high draft pick. I expect this game to be nearly unwatchable.

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