Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 14 Flames in the comments section below.
Mitchell Trubisky, Chi, QB (12 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $30)
Matchup: vs. LAR
Vegas line/total: LAR -3, 52
In Chicago, deep dish pizza is not only a culinary staple, it’s a slice of the rich city’s culture. Buttery, saucy, usually meaty and extremely decadent, just peering at one piece and arteries immediately constrict. Whether from Geno’s, Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s or an undiscovered joint, it’s sinfully delicious. Expected to return action for the first time in three weeks, Trubisky, like the local delicacy, will pack oodles of flavor.
Prior to suffering a dinged wing, the quarterback was in the midst of a breakout. Five times in 10 games he raced past the 20 fantasy-point mark, ranking No. 7 overall at the position in fantasy points per game. Glancing at the advanced numbers, he’s also delivered in air yards per attempt and pressured completion percentage. Though he’s made a few inexplicable throws, his ability to tuck and run (36.3 rush YPG) has raised his overall profile. Honestly, he’s every bit Cam Newton’s equal, a dual-threat wrecking ball who piles up the points, albeit adventurously.
With Aqib Talib (72.1 passer rating, 0.69 yards/snap allowed) once again ball-hawking, the Rams present an equally difficult task. Still, bank on the passer to execute undeterred. L.A., with Talib, has yielded just 6.6 pass yards per attempt, 216.0 passing yards per game and 0.8 touchdowns per game to the position. However, in a contest Vegas projects as a potential shootout, it’s entirely plausible Trubisky picks up where he left off. A top-10 outing, at minimum, should be expected.
Fearless Forecast: 307 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 turnovers, 41 rushing yards, 22.4 fantasy points
Jeff Wilson Jr., SF, RB (4 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $12)
Matchup: vs. Den
Vegas line/total: Den -6, 44
A short Dak Prescott toss to the north of Dallas lies Denton, Tex., a fast-growing suburb home to the University of North Texas. The Mean Green, a member of Conference USA, are an established and consistent winner. Over the years, they’ve churned out such notable names as “Mean” Joe Greene, Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer Abner Haynes, and the purveyor of “twisted steel and sex appeal,” “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Wilson is the latest alum to reach the NFL.
Lacking the ideal frame, athletic profile and speed for the pro level, the rusher, to no one’s surprise, went undrafted last spring. However, versatile, quick cutting and eagle-eyed, he attracted the attention of San Francisco. In many ways, he’s the quintessential Shanahan running back. Thrust into lead duties after Matt Breida aggravated his tender ankle last week in warmups, Wilson stole the show at Seattle. He darted through holes, shook defenders in the open field and racked numerous catches. At first glance, his 15-61-0, 8-73-0 line was Saquon Barkley-like. With Breida shelved and the franchise in full evaluation mode, the unheralded rusher suddenly enters into the RB2 discussion.
Denver has washed off the stench of its early season difficulties containing the run. Over the past five weeks, the Broncos have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points, 3.74 yards per carry, 130.8 total yards per game and 1 touchdown to RBs, though they’ve also given up 5.6 receptions per game to the position. Total it up and Wilson’s balanced contributions make him an inviting option in PPR formats. Pan for gold.
Fearless Forecast: 14 attempts, 52 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 13.7 fantasy points
Justin Jackson, LAC, RB (3 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $16)
Matchup: vs. Cin
Vegas line/total: LAC -14, 47.5
Single elimination formats are all about surviving and advancing. Blindly resting on your laurels isn’t the wisest move. Intensely scrutinizing matchups through number crunching and information accumulation is needed to exploit opponents and march on to the next round. Take a chance and you could get one step closer to clinching the gridiron gold. Jackson is one option worth chasing. Though riding shotgun alongside Austin Ekeler, the rookie boasts talent. Similar to Denver’s Philip Lindsay, he improbably slipped through the NFL Draft cracks despite outstanding athletic test results. His agility and burst scores ranked in the 95th and 86th percentiles, respectively, according to Player Profiler.
Quick off the snap (4.52 40-yard dash), he makes up for his light build (6’0”, 193 pounds) with speed and wiggle. Last week in Pittsburgh, he raised eyebrows totaling 72 yards and a TD on nine touches. On a breakout drive in the fourth quarter, he displayed the vision, sharp cuts and power through contact that made him Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher. The kid can play.
This week, expect him to kick it up a notch. The Chargers host Cincinnati, a defense wrought with ineptitude. The lousiest unit in the virtual game, the Bengals have surrendered the most fantasy points, 5.10 yards per carry, 179.3 total yards per game and 1.6 touchdowns per game to rushers. If Melvin Gordon, who claims he could return this week, is inactive, FLEX Jackson at a minimum.
Fearless Forecast: 12 attempts, 71 rushing yards, 1 reception, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points
Tre’Quan Smith, NO, WR (12 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $16)
Matchup: at TB
Vegas line/total: NO -8, 57
No distinguished meteorologist or pinpoint fanalyst could tell which way the wind blows when it comes to Smith. One week he’s gangbusters, as witnessed against Washington (Week 5) and Philadelphia (Week 10). Other times, he vanishes into thin air. Week 13 against Byron Jones and Dallas the most recent occurrence. That, my fantasy friends, is the nature of New Orleans’ socialist offense. This Sunday, however, chances are sizable he’ll morph into a box score giant.
It’s Tampa for crying out loud. On the season, the Bucs, decimated by injuries and ineptitude defensively, have allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, conceding 18 touchdowns and eleven 75-plus yard performances. Converted slot corner De’Vante Harris, who’s worked outside more of late, will be the primary dance partner for Smith. On the year, the young corner, who’s played on a mere 82 snaps, has surrendered 62.5 catch percentage and 13.0 yards per catch. Smith and his big play explosiveness (16.9 yards per reception; 10.9 yards per target) is an exploitable matchup for Drew Brees, assuming he actually looks the receiver’s way. If you’re a riverboat gambler, convince yourself this is the week.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.6 fantasy points
Michael Gallup, Dal, WR (1 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)
Matchup: vs. Phi
Vegas line/total: Dal -4, 43.5
For yours truly, tequila is a passion play. Before #TequilaThursday became a weekly social media event, I, like many people who were turned off by the beverage in college, was an uneducated individual who thought consuming the Love Juice would lead to fetal positions and unwanted upchucks. However, it’s marvelous. What’s the key to uncovering a tasty version? Aging. Similar to a fine wine or bourbon, smooth tequilas sit for months in oak barrels, adding vanilla hints to its flavor profile. Similar to an easy-to-sip añejo, Gallup has become more palatable with time.
Drawing the praise of the coaching staff and Dak Prescott, the rookie has started to tap into his enormous potential. He’s expanded routes to the tree, increased separation from defenders and hauled in a rising number of catches. Amari Cooper’s presence undoubtedly has helped, but Gallup, on his own, deserves considerable credit. He’s enticed at least six targets in three of his past five games, including a season-high seven looks in Week 13, which he converted into five catches for 76 yards.
This week matched against an emaciated Philadelphia secondary, he’s a debatable WR3 in challenging formats. On the year, the Eagles have surrendered the XX-most fantasy points to WRs. Expected to exchange jabs primarily with CB Rasul Douglas, he should lure premium looks from Prescott.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.7 fantasy points
WEEK 14 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10 percent started)
Josh Allen, Buf, QB (2 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $23)
Matchup: vs. NYJ
Vegas line/total: Buf -3, 38.5
When Barstool Sports launched the satirical DraftJoshAllen.com, many experts within the NFL Draft community had already committed thousands of objectionable words about the quarterback to paper. His controversial social media past aside, Allen was nothing more than a strong-armed project with plus athleticism but below average accuracy, who played unevenly at Wyoming. In skill set terms, he was Jeff George or Jay Cutler without the fanfare. Maybe we were all wrong.
Allen continues to be a work in progress, but his pocket awareness and scrambling abilities have squarely placed him on the fantasy radar. For all of the publicity Lamar Jackson has received, Allen is equally deserving. He makes the occasional shield-your-eyes play, but he’s threaded throws, extended and executed with an undaunted attitude. Since returning from injury, he, unbelievably, has been a top-three signal caller in fantasy. Over his past two contests, he’s competed a woeful 51 percent of his attempts, but his 195.5 pass yards per game, 117.0 rush yards per game and four total touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) have buoyed him into the QB1 conversation in 12-team leagues. Yes, really.
This week matched against a Jets secondary that’s given up 7.4 pass yards per attempt, 263.8 passing yards per game and 1.8 passing touchdowns per game, Allen could be an unsung playoff hero. Remember, in fantasy, ugly can be beautiful.
Fearless Forecast: 197 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 2 turnovers, 68 rushing yards, 20.7 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 14 FLAMES (Under 50 percent started)
RB: Rex Burkhead, NE (at Mia; $12) – In his first action since Week 3, Burkhead, as expected, played a dual role. On 17 snaps against Minnesota, he split evenly between traditional run/pass work. Tallying nine touches (7 carries, 2 receptions), he totaled 41 yards without a score. He’ll continue to munch on the workloads of James White and Sony Michel, but with the dust knocked off and faced with an ultra-generous matchup, he could collect FLEX-useful numbers in 12-team and deeper leagues. His opponent, Miami, has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points, 4.70 yards per carry, 169.2 total yards per game and 12 total TDs to rushers. Stealing a goal-line tote away from Michel is certainly possible. Totally, James Develin. (FF: 9 atts, 44 yds, 2 recs, 12 yds, td, 12.6 fpts)
RB: Dalvin Cook, Min (at Sea; $20) – For the popular Round 1-2 turn pick, it’s been a sorrowful season. Hamstring setbacks and limited workloads have rendered him useless for much of the season. However, he’s executed efficiently since regaining full strength. Against the Packers and Pats he amassed an impressive a 3.74 YAC per attempt and notched the third-best elusive rating among eligible rushers. Seattle, which has unspooled in the trenches over the season’s second half, has coughed up the eighth-most fantasy points, 5.43 yards per carry, 167.7 total yards per game and six touchdowns to RBs since Week 8. Even if he logs 12-15 touches, he’s easily an RB2 in 12-teamers. (FF: 10 atts, 54 yds, 4 recs, 39 yds, td, 17.3 fpts)
WR: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB (vs. Atl; $15) – Feel sorry for Atlanta. The hell Aaron Rodgers is about to unleash post-Mike McCarthy axing will be memorable. All receiving Packers stand to benefit, even the enigmatic MVS. Last week, Valdes-Scantling resurfaced after ghosting owners in previous matchups. He didn’t light up the scoreboard (2-19-0), but his seven targets showed he’s not a forgotten man. Operating out of the slot 56.6 percent of the time, he’s set to line up primarily against Brian Poole, a corner who’s given up a 106.3 passer rating. Debate his upside in deeper leagues. (FF: 4 recs, 50 yds, td, 13.0 fpts)
TE: David Njoku, Cle (vs. Car; $20) – Tight end is the Natty Light of fantasy positions. It’s foamy, flavorless and sorely lacking in quality. It’s why many are juggling the idea of trotting out a Dan Arnold, Chris Herndon or Matt LaCosse this week. For the shallow-minded, however, Njoku is sure to rise to the occasion. Started in just over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, he’s a very appealing option. Carolina has allowed the most fantasy points to the position, giving up 6.0 receptions per game, 64.5 receiving yards per game and 10 touchdowns. Off his second sub 20-yard effort in his last three, Njoku stomps in the end zone. (FF: 4 recs, 55 yds, td, 13.5 fpts)
DST: Arizona Cardinals (vs. Det; $16) – Head coach Steve Wilks’ tenure in the desert might be short lived. Reportedly on the hot seat after a disastrous debut, he and his Cards team have experienced many regrettable moments. Last week’s road upheaval of Green Bay, however, was definitely a high point. This week could mark another one. Matthew Stafford, sacked 23 times since Week 9, is poorly protected. Placed under duress on 32 percent of his dropbacks, he’s bound to commit at least a mistake or three. If Kerryon Johnson rests again, the situation is only further exacerbated. (FF: 17 PA, 363 YDSA, 4 SCK, 3 TO, 13.0 fpts)
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
QB Lamar Jackson, RB Jeff Wilson and Kenyan Drake, WR Chris Godwin and Courtland Sutton, TE Ian Thomas, Bills D #TeamHuevos
— Burpy Stevens (@burpystevens) December 4, 2018
Reader record: 34-60
Brad record: 60-83 (WK13 2-8; W – Lamar Jackson, Anthony Miller; L – Frank Gore, Dak Prescott, Royce Freeman, Quincy Enunwa, Austin Ekeler, LeSean McCoy, Cameron Brate, KC D/ST)
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”