You drop a player in your fantasy football league only to watch him go off. Or worse, to watch him crush for someone else’s team in your league. Or even worse than that … to watch him crush for someone else’s team in your league while playing you.
Oh yeah. That’s a painful one.
Maybe you missed the playoffs. Or maybe you’re alive but need help this week. Either way, the season hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to, and I’m here to help. You see, it’s Thanksgiving this week, so it’s time to give thanks.
That’s right. Thankful that you’re not one of the people below. Because as bad as you are, you’re not this bad. My way of giving back is to show no matter how bad you screwed up, there are those out there who have screwed up even worse. If nothing else, this will make you feel better about your own moves.
And so, with apologies once again to the band Oasis, it’s time for an annual tradition — the 2019 edition of “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”
As always, these are real roster moves made by real players. Here’s my “top 10.”
8. Reed Kaiser went back-to-back. In one league, he dropped Michael Gallup for kicker Jason Myers. And then in another league, he dropped No. 1 tight end for much of the season (before his injury) Austin Hooper for Demarcus Robinson.
6. Braydon Holmyard, who dropped Russell Wilson for Mecole Hardman. Which is almost as bad as the reverse, dropping a WR for a QB …
3. I wouldn’t have believed it, but then Paul Lloyd sent me a screenshot. Just before Week 1, he needed a kicker and he doesn’t like carrying two quarterbacks. Since he already had a solid starter in Jared Goff, he thought, no issue dropping Russell Wilson for Wil Lutz.
So many bad ones it was tough to choose, but for so many reasons these are the top two:
2. David Rhodes, aka @ChampD1012, thought he had found a starting running back on the waiver wire just before the season started. He claimed Kalen Ballage, and since he had Drew Brees as his starter at QB, he decided to drop his backup QB … Lamar Jackson.
And as bad as that is, David, at least Ballage has played and scored three touchdowns on the season. It’s not as bad as the No. 1 worst move this year …
1. @Shlofensteiner, who felt good about rolling with Cam Newton as his starter and dropped Lamar Jackson in the preseason for Darwin Thompson.
You read that right. I saw the transaction screenshot. Imagine having to live with that. Dropping Lamar Jackson for Darwin Thompson. I feel for you, man. I feel for you. Come here. There, there. It’ll be all right.
As we reflect on this holiday of thanks, be grateful you haven’t made a move as bad as these guys. I’d like to give my thanks to “Thirsty” Kyle Soppe of the 06010 podcast and The Stat-a-Pillar Damian Dabrowski of “The Fantasy Show” on ESPN+ for their help at various points in this column. As always, this is not a start/sit column, but rather players I feel will exceed or fall short of projections.
Let’s get to it.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 13
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (at Seahawks): After a slow start, Cousins has quietly finished as a top-10 QB in each of his past three games and in six of his past seven (the lone exception being that Thursday night game against my Redskins where the Vikings ran the ball 12 more times than they passed it). With two weeks to prepare for a secondary that has struggled this season, Cousins should have a clean pocket against a Seattle defense that ranks 30th in pressure percentage. When not under pressure this season, Cousins has the second-best touchdown percentage and completion percentage in the NFL.
Sam Darnold, Jets (at Bengals): You don’t often hear the names “Lamar Jackson” and “Sam Darnold” in the same sentence, unless it’s this sentence: Sam Darnold is not nearly as good as Lamar Jackson. But now I can use it in another one: Darnold and Jackson are the only two quarterbacks to have produced at least 21 fantasy points in each of the past three weeks. The Bengals are allowing a league-high 13.1 yards per completion this season and more than 21 points per game to opposing QBs.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (at Giants): How do you think Sunday night’s game against the 49ers is sitting with Rodgers? Exactly. The Giants’ defense can fix a lot, though. I mean, it just made Mitchell Trubisky look solid. The Giants are allowing the sixth-most yards per completion and a touchdown on 12.3% of deep passes (league high), so Rodgers should get his groove back chucking it deep against the G-Men. Every non-rookie QB who has played the Giants this season has scored at least 18.9 points.
Others receiving votes: With multiple touchdown passes in five of his past seven games, Josh Allen is doing it with his arm … and his legs, as he has a rushing touchdown or at least 45 rushing yards in nine of 11 games this season. He has accounted for multiple scores in seven consecutive games, and I like Allen to have another strong fantasy game as a touchdown underdog on the road at Dallas. … Did you know that since Ryan Tannehill took over in Week 7, he is the third-best QB in fantasy on a points-per-game basis? The Titans quarterback has a 72.1% completion rate and 12.8 yards per completion in that span (topping Russell Wilson in both metrics!), and the Colts allow opponents to complete passes at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 13
Matt Ryan, Falcons (vs. Saints): Ryan ranks as just QB21 on a points-per-game basis since returning from the Falcons’ bye in Week 9, and he has just one touchdown pass in his past 77 attempts. In a great matchup last weekend at home against Tampa Bay, Ryan completed a season-low 50% of his passes. When he saw these same Saints in Week 10, Ryan threw for just 182 yards (a season low in his fully healthy games) on 35 attempts. In a must-win week for fantasy managers, I don’t see how you can trust Ryan this week, particularly facing a Saints defense that ranks second in pressure percentage (32.2%). When pressured this season, Ryan has more interceptions (four) than TD passes (three).
Jacoby Brissett, Colts (vs. Titans): Tough matchup with a Titans defense that allows the sixth-fewest red zone trips per game. That’s important because the red zone is where Brissett does a lot of his damage. He’s QB5 in red zone points this season, and 14 of Brissett’s 15 TD passes have come in the red zone. (When not in the red zone: Brissett has just one TD pass and four interceptions in 245 pass attempts.) He has zero passing TDs in three of his past four games, and while you can chalk some of that up to T.Y. Hilton’s injury, it’s hard to get excited about Brissett in what Vegas expects to be one of the lowest-scoring games of the weekend.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (at Steelers): He’s been a lot better recently, no doubt. But heading into Pittsburgh in a game that will be, ahem, filled with emotion, I’m nervous about Mayfield’s chances at a big number here. At home this season, the Steelers are the sixth-best scoring defense, allow the sixth-fewest yards per pass attempt and are seventh-best against fantasy QBs. Like a lot of signal-callers, Mayfield struggles under pressure, and since Week 8, the Steelers are the best in the NFL in pressure percentage while being top three in lowest completion percentage allowed and highest interception rate.
Running backs I love in Week 13
Melvin Gordon, Chargers (at Broncos): He’s been looking a lot like, well, Melvin Gordon, and the bye week should have done wonders for him and the entire Chargers offense. Averaging 21 touches per game over his past three with no fewer than 17 touches in any of them, Gordon should once again see a heavy workload against a Broncos team that is allowing opposing RBs to gain 1.9 yards per carry after first contact (seventh-most in the NFL) and has been the 21st-ranked run defense the past four weeks.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders (at Chiefs): Tough game against the Jets in Week 12, but forget that. Better days are ahead for Jacobs, who should get a ton of work as the Raiders try to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense. They will try to control the clock, and I believe they will be successful, as the Chiefs allow the third-most rushing yards per game, the second-most yards per carry and are tied for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns allowed. Prior to last weekend’s blowout against the Jets, Jacobs was fourth in the NFL in rushing in Weeks 1-11, which includes his 12-for-99 performance against Kansas City in Week 2.
Jonathan Williams, Colts (vs. Titans): With Marlon Mack already ruled out of this one, it should once again be the Jonathan Williams show, as Williams got 74.3% of the Colts’ running back carries in Week 12 (26 of 35). Even without Mack, it is clear Indy wants to continue its run-heavy ways, as Williams got more touches than Mack has gotten in all but one game of his career. Ranking fourth in rush percentage this season, the Colts not only love to run, they do it behind one the NFL’s best offensive lines. And Williams has performed when he has gotten a shot. Very small sample size, but Williams is averaging 2.15 yards per carry after first contact. If he qualified, he’d rank fifth, behind only Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, Chris Carson and Jacobs).
Others receiving votes: In the past four weeks, it seems like Phillip Lindsay has moved past Royce Freeman and out of their timeshare, as he is averaging 2.53 carries to every one for Freeman, including a 3-2 red zone carry advantage. The duo rushed 28 times for 175 yards and a score (adding six catches for 39 yards) when the Broncos and Chargers met earlier in the season, and with the Chargers allowing 27.5 points per game to running backs, I like Lindsay to be the focal point of Denver’s offense this weekend. … As of this writing, I don’t know if Jordan Howard will be cleared for contact or if it will once again be Jay Ajayi opposite Miles Sanders. But whoever is the starting “power” back for Philly this weekend, I like him against a Miami team that allows the fourth-most red zone drives per game and the fourth-most yards per carry before first contact in the red zone. … It’s always risky with a Patriots running back, but with New England’s pass-catchers banged up and Houston giving up a league-high 7.36 RB receptions per game this season, this feels like a James White game. … It’s rarely pretty, but Ronald Jones II has a rushing touchdown in three of his past four games. Tampa Bay will always think pass first, but on the road against a Jaguars team that is bottom five against the run this season and coughs up 5.62 yards per carry this season to opposing running backs, Jones has some flex appeal this weekend.
Running backs I hate in Week 13
Chris Carson, Seahawks (vs. Vikings): A tough matchup to begin with, as the Vikings come off their bye with a defense allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game (94.2) and giving up a rushing touchdown on just 1.2% of carries (the best rate in the league). Since Week 3, Damien Williams is the only player to rush for more than 76 yards against Minnesota, and that was thanks to a 91-yard rush that you can’t bank on. So tough sledding ahead, and then you consider that it might not even be Carson doing the sledding. He’s coming off his first game this season with fewer than 15 carries, after his fumbling issues reared their head against the Eagles on Sunday and Rashaad Penny promptly filled in … and filled in well, with 14 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown. When all was said and done, Carson played about 53% of snaps, Penny played 47%, and this feels like a timeshare (at best) against a tough run defense. Not ideal in the final week before the fantasy playoffs.
Joe Mixon, Bengals (vs. Jets): After a brutal start to the season, Mixon has turned it around to be semi-useful recently. And the return to Andy Dalton as the starting QB certainly can’t hurt this offense’s chances of scoring. Of course, with Dalton under center this season, Mixon averaged just 12.6 carries per game. (He averaged 21 carries per game with Ryan Finley under center.) And then you look at the Jets, who have actually played really good run defense this season. They have given up 2.99 yards per carry (best in the NFL) and allowed just 78 rushing yards per game (also best in the NFL). Sony Michel is the only RB to score 14 points against the Jets without catching at least four passes. Mixon is averaging two catches per game and has caught four balls only twice in 11 games this season.
Tevin Coleman, 49ers (at Ravens): Coleman has averaged less than 3.6 yards per carry in three of his past four games, but he’s bailed you out with some passing-game usage and a touchdown in Week 12. However, since his four-touchdown game in Week 8, Coleman is just RB35 on a points-per-game basis, averaging fewer than 10 points per game. A touchdown or passing-game usage is what you will need to once again bail you out with Coleman this weekend against a Ravens defense that is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game. Only twice has a running back had more than 65 rushing yards in a game against Baltimore this season. Only twice this season has Coleman caught more than two passes in a game, so you’re really hoping for the touchdown here. How lucky do you feel?
Pass-catchers I love in Week 13
DJ Chark Jr. and Dede Westbrook, Jaguars (vs. Buccaneers): The Bucs allow the second-most red zone drives per game this season, which presents an inviting opportunity for Mr. Chark and Mr. Westbrook. Here’s a surprising stat for the Jaguars, given they have Leonard Fournette: 71.7% of the Jags’ red zone yards have come through the air (second most in the NFL). Chark has been amazing this season, so he’s a no-brainer against Tampa’s pass defense, which ranked 29th over the past four weeks, but consider Westbrook as well. The Bucs allow a touchdown on 6.3% of slot attempts, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL, and Westbrook has at least seven targets in each of his past seven healthy games.
Cooper Kupp, Rams (at Cardinals): Well, Monday night didn’t do anyone any favors, and I understand why confidence might be waning. But look closer. Ten targets last week, but just 9.5 fantasy points. That’s unlikely to happen. Prior to last week (for his career), when my little Cooper Kupp sees 10-plus targets in a game, he averages 25.7 points per game. Over the past four games, Arizona has allowed five TDs to wide receivers, including a TD to the slot in three of its past four games. The Cardinals are the worst pass defense in the NFL in that four-week span, and they’ve allowed more than 150 yards to the slot in each of their past two games.
John Brown, Bills (at Cowboys): With at least eight targets or a touchdown in eight of 11 games this season (including five of his past six), Brown has had a terrific floor this season. And that should help Brown on Thursday, as he is averaging 8.1 targets per game, and wideouts who get at least eight targets against Dallas this season are averaging 14.7 PPG. Brown’s 26.7% target share is fifth best in the NFL, so expect plenty of looks in a game in which Buffalo is a touchdown road dog and likely throwing to keep up.
Greg Olsen, Panthers (vs. Redskins): With seven targets in each of his past four games, Olsen is a viable TE1 streamer this week against a Redskins team that, among many other things it does poorly, allows opponents to complete passes of shorter than 10 yards at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. The Redskins are allowing a touchdown on 25 percent of drives (the sixth-highest rate in the NFL), so I like Olsen’s chances to find paydirt against a defense that gives up the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Others receiving votes: Assuming he clears the concussion protocol, I like Golden Tate against a Packers team allowing the fourth-most yards per catch after the reception. Tate is averaging more than eight targets per game since Week 6, and the Packers have allowed the fourth-highest completion rate to slot receivers. … One of the many bad statistics you can roll out there about the Bengals is they give up the highest deep completion percentage in the league. With a touchdown in two straight games and two deep receptions last week against Oakland, it seems Robby Anderson is getting hot at the right time. … Very quietly, Jared Cook has a touchdown in four of his past five games. In what should be a high-scoring game on Thursday night, Cook has a pretty good shot at making it five of the past six against a Falcons team that allows the sixth-most red zone drives per game this season. … DK Metcalf‘s 14 end zone targets are tied for second in the NFL. You probably knew that stat. But did you know the Vikings have faced the fifth-most end zone targets this season? Metcalf has played more than 92 percent of the snaps since Josh Gordon joined the team, and the rookie will almost certainly get a couple of deep shots against a Vikings team that allows opponents to complete deep passes at the seventh-highest rate. … With Eric Ebron out for the year, you could do worse for a streaming tight end than Jack Doyle against a Titans squad that is bottom 10 in the NFL in points allowed to tight ends.
Pass-catchers I hate in Week 13
Adam Thielen, Vikings (at Seahawks): Hopefully he’s now fully healthy, but this is not the best matchup to come back to. The Seahawks are the ninth-best defense in terms of lowest completion percentage allowed to the slot, and they own the third-lowest touchdown percentage defensively. I can’t imagine having a better option, but I’m lowering expectations for Thielen on Monday night.
Amari Cooper, Cowboys (vs. Bills): Cooper has four or fewer catches in three of his past four games, and he’s unlikely to break out of his slump against Buffalo. Likely seeing shadow coverage from Tre’Davious White, Cooper will have to face off against a secondary that allows a league-low 10.96 yards per reception to WRs, while giving up only four wide receiver touchdowns all season. Four. Cooper has just three red zone targets in his past six games, so it’s hard to feel great about him, considering he appears to be less than 100 percent healthy.
Emmanuel Sanders, 49ers (at Ravens): Also clearly not 100 percent healthy, Sanders now has three or fewer receptions in three straight games, and Baltimore has not allowed a TD to a WR in any of its past three games. With the reemergence of the seemingly indestructible George Kittle, along with Deebo Samuel‘s impressive play, you’ll likely need a touchdown from Sanders for him to pay off this week against the league’s run-heaviest offense. Only twice this season has an opposing WR1 caught a TD pass versus Baltimore. How lucky do you feel?
Matthew Berry — the Talented Mr. Roto — wishes you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. And that, of course, means no cranberry sauce. Feel free to @ me.