Play These Five Guys at your Own Risk

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  • Arizona Cardinals
    Arizona Cardinals
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  • Los Angeles Rams
    Los Angeles Rams
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Pegging players with the potential to flame out becomes increasingly more important this week, as this is the final contest of the regular season in most leagues.

I’m all about accountability in this column, as you guys love to roast my takes on social media on a weekly basis, especially when it comes to possible busts. Last week I went 3-2 in my risky picks, as Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, and Saquon Barkley all underdelivered as WR37, WR39, and RB21 respectively, while Russell Wilson came in as QB13 and T.J. Hockenson was TE4 on the week.

This week’s crop of potential losers are players you may not be able to or even want to bench, but as usual, expectations should be tempered for their output in Week 14.

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sitting Chubb is probably not in the plans for 99.9% of you, but at least expect a mediocre day from the Cleveland RB. He rushed just eight times for 16 yards with two receptions for 23 yards for a brutal 4.9 half-PPR points the last time he was on the field in Week 12 against the same Ravens defense.

While not every contest is equal between two teams, this matchup was just 14 days ago (from Sunday’s game time) and with Kareem Hunt back in the mix, we could see similar volume distribution and a familiar game script. Consider Chubb in the low-end RB1 to RB2 category as opposed to his normal elite status.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
It’s been an inconsistent stretch for Stafford over the past four contests, with two finishes outside the Top 12 in Weeks 9 and 10, then a pair of QB4 fantasy finishes in the last two weeks. This week could be a rough one for the 33-year-old in a crucial AFC West Monday night matchup.

Arizona has been fairly stout against the QB position this season, yielding the fourth-fewest passing yards and touchdowns to enemy signal callers, along with the fourth-fewest receiving yards to WRs through 12 contests. Depending on which Rams’ offense shows up on the big stage, Stafford could be in fantasy QB2 territory this week.

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Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Buffalo Bills
The Bills will be a tough test for the entire Tampa Bay passing game this week and someone will suffer in the fantasy department. Last week Evans was out-targeted 17-10 by Chris Godwin and if we see similar usage, it could be a down day for the 28-year-old.

Evans has crossed the 100-yard threshold just twice in 2021 and he’ll be facing a Buffalo defense that is only surrendering 109.4 receiving yards per game to entire WR corps, with just three total touchdowns all season to the position. While benching Evans is probably not even in consideration for most if not all of you, expect WR2 numbers this week from the Bucs’ wideout.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Football Team
Elliott is visibly playing through a bone bruise and hasn’t been very effective at running the football in recent weeks, with a total of 22 rushes for 70 yards in his last two contests. You’d think the Cowboys would lean on their healthier and more efficient of late RB Tony Pollard, but Elliott has out-touched Pollard 62-49 over the last three tilts.

To make things worse, a Week 14 contest sends the Cowboys to Washington to face a defensive unit that is allowing the fewest rushing yards per game to RBs (63.8) and just six rushing touchdowns on the season to the position. Expect RB3 numbers from Elliott this week if you decide to roll with him in your Week 14 matchups.

Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
Already a disappointment on the season for those who drafted Higbee at his TE10, eighth-round ADP, this week could be another dud for the Rams TE. In a surprising turn of events in 2021, the Cardinals are actually playing well against the position after years of being a sieve for fantasy TEs.

As a unit, Arizona’s defense has only allowed two total touchdowns to opposing TEs this season and just 35.8 receiving yards per contest. Each enemy TE has averaged a measly 6.4 half-PPR points per game on the field against the Cardinals through 12 contests, which is quite the change from 8.5 in 2020 and the league-worst 16.1 in 2019.

While the TE pantry is very bare - especially with four teams on a late bye - finding another option at the position besides Higbee is probably a solid move this week.