This is it, fantasy managers. The last week of the regular season. As Scott Hansen says on Red Zone at about 3 p.m: “It’s the witching hour! Where losses become wins, and where wins become losses.” That’s what time it is for all of you. Those sitting at 7-6 may need a win to get into the playoffs. Perhaps you are in a situation where either you win or someone else loses to get in. No matter what, you want to make sure you can set the best lineup possible to give yourself the best chance at victory. Good luck and may the odds ever be in your favor.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Teams on bye: Indianapolis, Miami, New England, Philadelphia
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys
Heinicke has led the team to victory although it has been because Washington is relying on the running game. He has done his part since the bye with seven touchdowns and two interceptions in four games. The yardage totals are modest (only one game with more than 250 passing yards) but he’s doing enough to win. Heinicke faces the Cowboys in Week 14 and he may have to pass the ball more. Look for him to exceed his No. 15 ranking (and find a connection with Terry McLaurin again).
Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (MNF)
In Week 13, Michel arguably looked better than Darrell Henderson Jr. has this year. Fact: he had 121 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. Another fact: Henderson has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game. It seems that Henderson is still dealing with a thigh issue. It doesn’t make sense to rush him back when Michel did so well in his absence. Also a bad sign for Henderson: the team promoted a running back from their practice squad. The Rams will likely take on the Cardinals on Monday night with Michel as the lead back and he should perform better than his No. 25 ranking.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans
While Lockett has been inconsistent, it seems that he is on a hot streak. Perhaps he’s connected with Russell Wilson, perhaps the coverage has been in his favor. Either way, Lockett should fare better than his No. 21 ranking in Week 14 against the lowly Texans. In the past three weeks with Wilson back at the controls, Lockett has had 115, 96 and 68 yards, with a touchdown last week. He should continue to put up receptions and yards and the end zone is just a bonus.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
After Week 12's 2/25/1 stat line, it’s understandable that Westbrook-Ikhine is ranked as a WR4/5. However, the week before he had seven receptions for 107 yards on eight targets. With A.J. Brown out of the lineup, the Titans need a pass catcher. It seems that Westbrook-Ikhine is the preferred option over Chester Rogers or Dez Fitzpatrick. He’s ranked No. 44 in a great matchup against the Jaguars and should exceed that.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Hooper is in a position where he’s the last man standing. Regular tight end David Njoku is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Harrison Bryant has a high ankle sprain. Hooper will be the tight end for the Browns, which doesn’t necessarily mean much, but it is his time to shine. He’s ranked No. 20 and he should fare better than that. He faces a Ravens defense against which he didn’t have a reception when they played in Week 12, but he also doesn’t have the competition for targets that he did in that game.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Fantasy managers that rostered Mahomes know what a frustrating season it has been. Tossing aside his two games with five touchdowns, the season has been a bust. In the past six games, he has one with five touchdowns and three with zero TD passes. He has two games with a single TD toss. In those six games, the only outing with more than 300 yards is the one with five scores. While fantasy managers appreciated that game, more consistency would be nice from their QB1. Mahomes is ranked No. 4 this week in what should be a good matchup against the Vegas Raiders, who he had the five-TD outburst against, but it is just too hard to trust him based on his body of work this season.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans vs. Seattle Seahawks
When the rankings first came out, it seemed like David Johnson would be out another week. But if he ends up being active, he and Burkhead (No. 30) and should swap spots. However, neither back will likely break the top 30 – even with four teams on a bye. Johnson hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. He’s only had more than 50 total yards from scrimmage three times this season. Burkhead isn’t much better: one touchdown this season (Week 8), one game with more than 50 total yards. Both Houston backs can be left on fantasy benches.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers
Barkley is ranked No. 16 which seems about right on a normal day. He’s playing the Chargers, a great matchup for running backs. The Chargers have allowed a running back to score at least one rushing touchdown in every game since Week 4. However, Barkley hasn’t had more than 60 rushing yards in a game this season. Opposing defenses stack the box against him because the team can’t throw the ball. This will be made worse in Week 14 if Daniel Jones (neck) misses another game. Barkley hasn’t found the end zone since Week 4 and is only ranked in the top 20 because of his name.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
Evans is a WR2 heading into a matchup with the Bills, but he’s ranked as a WR1. The Bills have a tough defense and this is not going to be easy. Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski are fighting for targets as well, so it’s not as easy to have a big game. In Week 14, Evans had seven receptions for 99 yards. However, the week before, he had three receptions for 16 yards. He is a good receiver; it is just hard to trust him as No. 10 overall.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
Hockenson popped up on the injury report this week with a hand injury and he's listed as doubtful for Sunday. He played in Week 13 and had four receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. He found the end zone in Week 12 as well. However, the Lions face the Broncos in Week 14. The Broncos have only allowed one tight end to score a touchdown this season. Only one tight end has more than 60 receiving yards. And only one tight end has more than four receptions. Hockenson may be a TE1 at times, but he’s not going to get to his No. 7 ranking this week, if he plays at all.
Full Disclosure From Week 13
5 Up (3/5 correct)
- Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 20, Actual: 13)
- Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 19, Actual: 27)
- Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (Ranked: 26, Actual: 12)
- Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 28, Actual: 19)
- Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills (Ranked: 12, Actual: 30)
5 Down: (3/4 correct)
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers (Ranked: 13, Actual: 15)
- James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Ranked: 11, Actual: 53)
- Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 28, Actual: DNP)
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals (Ranked: 15, Actual: 28)
- T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 7, Actual: 4)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.