Fantasy Football Week 14 Fades & Busts: Will Tank Dell loss ruin C.J. Stroud vs. Jets?

C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans

Just because a player is listed as a “fade” doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.” What a “bust” designation does mean, however, is that you’ll want to consider higher upside options in the flex.

Most fantasy football managers are looking at their last opportunity to clinch a spot in the playoffs in Week 14. A big key to clinching those final playoff spots will be identifying potential down weeks so you’re able to pivot to options with higher upside, or opt for higher-upside flex options to help make up for potential slumps.

Here are six players to be wary of as potential fades or busts for Week 14.

Bust: C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans got an absolute steal drafting quarterback C.J. Stroud, who enters Week 14 as the heavy favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Though that’s translated to some high-end production for fantasy, managers may want to temper expectations for him in Week 14, as he heads out on the road to face the New York Jets. The Jets have been a challenging matchup all season, giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. This year, the Jets have given up the fourth-fewest completions (240), the fifth-highest contested target percentage (18.1%) and the second-fewest pass yards per attempt (5.99).

To make matters worse for Stroud, he’ll be without Tank Dell, out for the season with a broken leg, which won’t do anything to help the home/road splits that have already been plaguing him this season. Stroud is averaging over 70 fewer pass yards per game and 1.8 fewer yards per pass attempt on the road than at home this season. His touchdown rate drops from 6.5% at home down to 2.3% on the road, having thrown just four total passing touchdowns through five road games so far this season.

Bust: The Seattle Seahawks backfield

Heading into Week 14, the Seattle Seahawks have a big question mark regarding their backfield. Both Kenneth Walker (groin) and Zach Charbonnet (knee) have missed practice to start the week with their respective injuries, which may have some fantasy managers looking toward running back DeeJay Dallas as a potential emergency play. It’s understandable, too, considering it’s not often that you're able to find a running back set for 15-plus touches sitting on your waiver wire.

With Fred Warner, Chase Young, Nick Bosa and Dre Greenlaw holding down the 49ers' run-stopping unit, it’s been tough sledding for opposing runners. In fact, since Young played his first game with the team (Week 10) after being traded from the Commanders, the 49ers have allowed just -0.17 expected points added (EPA) per carry — tied for the fourth-lowest EPA/carry among NFL defenses — while ranked with the sixth-highest defensive success rate against the run at 64.9%.

Not a single running back exceeded 50 rushing yards in that span, holding studs like Travis Etienne Jr., D’Andre Swift and Rachaad White to 23.2 fantasy points combined. And speaking of White ...

Fade: Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White has had an inefficient season, averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt to date this year, which ranks 32nd among 39 qualifying running backs (minimum 100 carries). It’s not all his fault, of course, as their offensive line has been hit with some injuries this season, including the loss of center Ryan Jensen with a knee injury in the preseason. That has them ranked as a bottom-five run-blocking grade to date, per PFF.

Luckily, White's involvement as a receiver has helped save his fantasy value despite his inefficiency, entering Week 14 as the overall RB6 on the season.

This week, the Bucs are headed to Atlanta to face the Falcons, whose run defense has buttoned up significantly between Calais Campbell, Bud Dupree, David Onyemata on the defensive line and Jessie Bates III in run support. Since Week 7, the Falcons are the only team in the league who haven’t allowed a single rushing touchdown, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in that span. They’ve forced the third-highest stuff rate and the seventh-fewest yards per carry at 3.9. In their first meeting earlier this season, White was held to just 2.62 yards per carry, though he pulled out a solid fantasy day catching six balls for 65 receiving yards. Expect this defense to key in a bit more on White as a receiver this go-around, which could force a down week for White’s fantasy managers.

Bust: Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars seem likely to be without their starting quarterback in Week 14 after Trevor Lawrence went down with a nasty-looking ankle injury on Monday Night Football. That means we could very well be watching C.J. Beathard under center, traveling up north to face the Cleveland Browns, one of the league’s most daunting defenses. The Browns are allowing the second-fewest receiving yards per game to opposing wide receivers, having allowed just five different receivers 15 or more fantasy points (half-PPR) all season long.

Given the likely presence of Beathard under center in a hostile road environment, this could be a brutal outing for Ridley.

Out of the 33 quarterbacks to attempt a pass in Week 13, Beathard had the third-lowest accurate pass rate (33.3%) per PFF, with 66.7% of throws deemed inaccurate but catchable. That means a lot of the load could be on his wide receivers to make some big catches. Already a fairly volatile asset on a week-to-week basis, it may be a week to look elsewhere for some upside.

Bust: Romeo Doubs, WR, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers offense is rolling of late, and a matchup against the New York Giants should only help emphasize their recent success given their struggles against the pass this season. The Giants enter this matchup with the sixth-lowest success rate against the pass this season per NFL Next Gen Stats, and some fantasy managers may be looking at Romeo Doubs with heart-eye emojis knowing Christian Watson (hamstring) seems unlikely to go in this outing.

What’s worth noting, however, is the Giants’ heavy deployment of man coverage on 44.5% of plays — the second-highest rate in the league — which could mean a down week for Doubs, who’s totaled just five catches for 31 receiving yards against man coverage all season, having produced just under 85% of his total yardage against zone coverage. Doubs’ lack of efficiency against man coverage could make this more of a Jayden Reed or Dontayvion Wicks-type matchup, who have both been more efficient against man coverage so far this season.

Bust: David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns have some questions to answer at quarterback heading into Week 14 — what else is new? It seems likely that Joe Flacco could get the start for the Dawg Pound for the second straight week, which could mean red flags for tight end David Njoku if their connection last week was any indication. Flacco looked to Harrison Bryant early and often in Week 12’s loss to the Rams, resulting in his second straight game with a receiving touchdown, catching all five of his targets for 49 receiving yards. Bryant ran a season-high 17 routes on the day and was targeted on just under 30% of them. Though Njoku had one more target on the day, he was much less efficient with those opportunities, catching just two of them for 17 yards.

The Jaguars are giving up just 7.0 fantasy points per game (half-PPR) to the tight end position since Week 7, the eighth fewest among NFL teams. Helping limit the effectiveness of opposing tight ends has been the fact that this crew has allowed just a single touchdown to the tight end position in that span.

Though this hasn’t been an unbeatable matchup this season, the trend in usage for Bryant and the connection Flacco showed with him off the bat could be just enough to pivot if you’ve got better TE options.