Week 14 means the fantasy playoffs are here in the majority of leagues, and it’s never been more important to avoid busts when you’re making start ’em, sit ’em decisions. The last thing you need is a week like the one Jonathan Williams just had, which could end your season early. (Raheem Mostert and Darwin Thomopson, we’re looking at you.)
There are always a couple of games that worry us on both sides each week, and the one that stands out this week is 49ers @ Saints. It’s a tough rushing matchup for San Francisco against a strong New Orleans front. Add to that the complicated committee and possible return of Matt Breida (ankle), and high-ranking waiver wire pickup Mostert might be in for a tough one. On the other side of that game, we’re extra worried about the Saints’ passing game outside of Michael Thomas. Drew Brees has been quietly not that great, so the strong San Fran defense should cause him issues, and that will extend to Jared Cook, too.
We also are staying away from other backfield committees, with Chris Carson and Darwin Thompson both worrying us. Then we’ll stay away from the Bills-Ravens game a bit, with both Josh Allen and Marquise Brown making our busts list while Mark Andrews would have a decent case against him, too.
Our Week 13 bust picks had some big hits. There was Carlos Hyde, struggling against New England on Sunday night, and Baker Mayfield putting up a stinker against the Steelers. But there were also some misses, as James Washington and Rashaad Penny both had big days for their fantasy owners.
Week 14 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Chris Carson, Seahawks @ Rams (Billy Heyen). Carson got dinged up a couple times Monday night and will continue to contend with Rashaad Penny for backfield touches. The Rams’ front seven still worries me just enough to think Carson will have a relatively quiet Week 14.
Raheem Mostert, 49ers @ Saints (Vinnie Iyer). What if Matt Breida (ankle) returns to make this an absolute mess with him and the sputtering Tevin Coleman? And you can never count out Kyle Shanahan randomly deciding to use Jeff Wilson Jr again. The matchup is also as bad as it gets for running backs.
Darwin Thompson, Chiefs @ Patriots (Matt Lutovsky). Thompson will see touches with Darrel Williams (hamstring) out and Damien Williams (ribs) possibly out, but even if it’s just him and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll score much. On the top of the usage concerns and overall question marks about his ability to produce in big games, there’s also the matchup. Perhaps he’ll pick apart the Pats in the receiving game the way Duke Johnson did last week, but that’s a big risk to take in the fantasy playoffs, especially in standard leagues.
Week 14 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Drew Brees, Saints vs. 49ers (Heyen). Brees just threw for 184 yards and a lone touchdown (on a season-low 60 percent completion percentage), so I’m not really sure how we can expect him to do much against the vaunted San Francisco defense.
Jared Goff, Rams vs. Seahawks (Iyer). Don’t go chasing his big game against the Cardinals. He’s only been great of late in really favorable matchups against bad teams. The Seahawks and their improving pass defense don’t qualify.
Josh Allen, Bills vs. Ravens (Lutovsky). Allen is generally a steady producer, in part because of his rushing ability, but the Ravens defense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, allowing fewer than 213 passing yards in each of the past four games. Even more impressive is that they’ve allowed multiple quarterback TDs just once all year (Patrick Mahomes) and just one QB rushing touchdown all season (Andy Dalton). Counting on Allen is basically counting on a 70-plus-yard rushing day, which he hasn’t done this year.
Week 14 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Marquise Brown, Ravens @ Bills (Heyen). I’ve been throwing receiver after receiver facing off with Tre’Davious White in here as busts, and that generally holds true. Brown also hasn’t seen more than seven targets since Week 3, and only once seen more than four targets since returning from an ankle injury in Week 9.
Brandin Cooks, Rams vs. Seahawks (Iyer). He might get the speed treatment on the outside, but regardless, he’s been a blip since his return vs. the other wideouts and more tight end usage.
Allen Robinson, Bears vs. Cowboys (Lutovsky). Robinson is generally solid and receives a lot of targets, but he’s had two total duds in his past five games (1-6 in Week 9 against Philadelphia, 4-15 in Week 11 against the Rams). The Cowboys have allowed one WR1 receiving touchdown all year (Terry McLaurin), so Robinson is in a tough spot on Thursday night.
Week 14 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. Seahawks (Heyen). Higbee’s going to go down as a one-week wonder. Between the possible return of Gerald Everett (knee) and the fact that no one is as bad at covering tight ends as the Cardinals, Higbee should come down to earth this week — there are at least 12 better tight end options.
Mark Andrews, Ravens @ Bills (Iyer). Don’t be fooled by the Jason Witten touchdown. The Bills are really tough on the position overall.
Jared Cook, Saints vs. 49ers (Lutovsky). Cook has been more heavily involved lately, but the 49ers have allowed only one TE to go over 50 yards (Jacob Hollister) and just three to score (Tyler Eifert, Hollister, Mark Andrews) all season.
Week 14 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
New England Patriots vs. Chiefs (Heyen). Patrick Mahomes has been human at times in recent weeks, but it still feels foolish to start the defense against him. But if you must, it’s not as scary as it may have seemed 10 weeks ago.
New Orleans Saints vs. 49ers (Iyer). They’ve been doing a lot of damage of late, but the Niners will play another rather clean road game and maybe win it, too.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Seahawks (Lutovsky). Seattle has been turning it over at an uncharacteristically high rate lately, but a good chunk of that has been in the form of lost fumbles, which is always fluky. The Rams won’t kill you if you start them, but the ceiling is lower than you think.