Week 14 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers -- and duds -- of the week.
Drew Brees has surprising big day
A matchup versus the 49ers' defense? I didn't see that as a prime setting for Brees to post high-level numbers. In fact, I dropped Brees down in the ranks this week because of the San Francisco pass rush, the second-level speed and the sub-package personnel in the secondary. Sean Payton did a great job scheming up throws for Brees, like the first two touchdowns to tight end Jared Cook.
Brees -- who completed 29 of 40 passes -- threw for 349 yards and five scores, and rushed for a touchdown off a QB sneak on the goal line. It didn't matter what the 49ers called on defense -- zone, man-schemes, the late-game pressure -- Brees just beat it. Monster day for the veteran quarterback in a matchup that looked dicey on paper. -- Bowen
"Sit Brees" is going to wind up one of my worst calls of the entire season. His 40.1 fantasy points were the second most he has scored in any of his 272 career games, and 13.4 more than any quarterback had previously scored against the 49ers all season. It was the second-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for the position entering the day. Brees even took over the all-time fantasy scoring lead among quarterbacks from Tom Brady, at least for a couple of minutes before Brady's first-quarter touchdown. Brees is now within 100 points of 5,000 for his career. -- Cockcroft
Jameis Winston has a career fantasy day
Winston set a new personal best with 34.7 fantasy points, only his third game with 30-plus in 67 career starts, despite throwing three interceptions. It's the 10th time he has been picked off at least three times in a game. Winston's season has been a wild one statistically: He now finds himself on pace for 5,065 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and 28 interceptions (giving him a realistic chance at the league's first-ever 30-touchdown, 30-interception campaign) and he has had three games of at least 25 fantasy points, but also three with fewer than 12.5.
A 5,000-yard, 30-touchdown season has good odds, too, considering Winston's final three opponents are the Lions, Texans and Falcons, all three rating among the seven best schedule-adjusted matchups for a quarterback using full-season data, and only the Falcons rating tougher than top eight (22nd most-favorable matchup) using data from Weeks 9 to 13. His performances might not be pretty, but he needs to be locked into fantasy lineups. -- Cockcroft
Noah Fant paces fantasy TEs
On a day when several unexpected tight ends -- Nick Boyle, Jeff Heuerman and Robert Tonyan, just to name three -- found the end zone, Fant was the position's star from the 1 p.m. ET games, pacing it with his 21.3 PPR fantasy points. It was the third time this season he turned in a top-10 weekly tight end score (Weeks 4 and 9), and might ultimately wind up his second top-two-at-the-position output. In his past six games, Fant has 35 targets, 20 receptions, a pair of 100-yard games and two receiving touchdowns for a total of 64.6 PPR fantasy points.
Fant versus T.J. Hockenson was a debate I wrestled with in my dynasty leagues in the preseason, ultimately selecting Hockenson because of his perceived higher statistical floor. Watching Fant play lately, I'd go in the other direction if given the choice again. -- Cockcroft
Josh Allen struggles against Baltimore
Allen registered just 10.7 fantasy points in the loss to the Ravens on Sunday, but missed some early deep shots. As we've seen pretty consistently this year, his deep ball accuracy has been an issue. And in a matchup where Baltimore is going to bring pressure, those are the throws you simply have to make. Allen did hit Cole Beasley for a fourth-quarter touchdown on a pick/rub concept, but with only 146 yards passing, fantasy managers really need to get a boost in the quarterback run game here. Instead, Allen had only two rushing attempts for 9 yards. Even in a very tough matchup, I'm surprised we didn't see more designed run concepts for Allen. Give me some zone-read, QB power, etc. If you had Allen, it was a rough day in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. -- Bowen
Emmanuel Sanders torches New Orleans' D
Against a really good New Orleans secondary, Sanders produced, catching 7 of 9 targets for a season-high 157 yards and a touchdown. Impressive. The wide receiver scored on a 75-yard grab that turned into a one-on-one matchup down the field versus safety Marcus Williams, and he continues to play like an ideal fit for Kyle Shanahan's system given the route running and sudden separation ability. And with a matchup versus the Falcons next week, expect Shanahan to dial up plenty of in-breaking routes for Sanders to attack the Atlanta zone coverage schemes. Give me Sanders as a WR2 in Week 15. -- Bowen
Raheem Mostert continues to produce
For the second consecutive week, Mostert paced the 49ers' backfield in rushing attempts (10), total touches (12) and percentage of offensive snaps played (60%, 38-of-63), and this time he did it in a game in which both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida were active. While there's a definite degree of committee going on there, Mostert's usage coupled with his back-to-back games of 23-plus PPR fantasy points puts him in the best position of the trio to contribute the remainder of the year. Again, he needs to be rostered everywhere -- wake up, those of you in the 75.9% of ESPN leagues in which he remains out there! -- and he should have flex appeal in Weeks 15-17, with the only reason he doesn't grade better the possibility of Coleman's/Breida's active status as well as his Falcons/Rams/Seahawks matchups grading below-average. -- Cockcroft
Tannehill continued to perform as a high-end QB2/low-end QB1 in a 27.6-fantasy point effort against the Raiders, bringing his seven-week total as the Titans' starting quarterback to 154.3 points, third most at the position during that time span (Lamar Jackson 196.5, Josh Allen 168.7). Yes, the matchup contributed, as the Raiders have been the third-best schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing quarterbacks this season, but it's not like Tannehill's schedule gets all that much tougher the next three weeks: He faces the Texans twice and Saints once, defenses that allowed 23.9 and 28.1 fantasy points to Drew Lock and Jimmy Garoppolo. Might Tannehill be the streaming quarterback who leads teams to titles? Well, perhaps that'd be more likely in a two-quarterback league, but his is not a name to scoff at.
Tannehill's success has also paid dividends for the rookie Brown, who scored a career-best 33.6 PPR fantasy points. Brown now has 38 targets, 25 catches, a pair of 100-yard receiving games and four receiving touchdowns since Tannehill took over as the Titans' starter. Perhaps most importantly, Brown now has a 17.6% target share for the season and 20.8% in Tannehill's starts, a sign that he's developing into a potentially reliable WR2 for each of those three remaining matchups. -- Cockcroft
I'm with Tristan on the matchups for Tannehill. Given the offensive structure in Tennessee, he will be in a position to throw with efficiency. Coming into Week 14, Tannehill was carving up defenses on play-action throws, completing 17 of 19 passes for 316 and three touchdowns in his past two games. That showed up again on Sunday with the 91-yard touchdown pass to Brown. You can count on the play-action passing to continue over the next three weeks for the Titans, which creates high-percentage throws for Tannehill and run-after-the-catch opportunities for Brown. -- Bowen
Austin Ekeler has efficient and effective game
Ekeler tallied at least 100 rushing and receiving yards on Sunday, becoming the first player to do that since Christian McCaffrey in Week 12 of 2018 and 35th player to do it since at least 1950. In the process, Ekeler scored 31.3 PPR fantasy points, his second-best performance of his career behind only the 39.4 he scored in Week 1.
Interestingly enough, Ekeler did this despite his team blowing out the Jaguars, though on a per-play basis the numbers made a bit of sense considering how poorly Jacksonville has played against the run of late: The Jaguars have allowed an outrageous (and league-high) 40.3 PPR fantasy points per game to running backs since their Week 10 bye. Tuck that away if you have any of their upcoming running back opponents: Josh Jacobs (Week 15), Devonta Freeman (Week 16) and Marlon Mack (Week 17). -- Cockcroft
Jared Cook: The concussion Cook suffered during the first quarter of Week 14 could have greater ramifications on fantasy than you might think, considering his recent production. He played only eight snaps on Sunday, but turned them into 20.4 PPR fantasy points, bringing his totals in five games since the Saints' bye to 78.5 PPR fantasy points and 28 targets. Cook had quietly reestablished his locked-in TE1 status, so keep close tabs on his practice reports during the week. -- Cockcroft
Aaron Jones: Jones' 31.2 PPR fantasy points paced all running backs from the 1 p.m. ET games, and gave him his third game of 30-plus this year and fourth in his career. It was a welcome rebound from his 7.1 point, 11-carries-for-18-yards performance against the Giants in Week 13, but even accounting for that stinker, Jones still has 190.4 PPR fantasy points in nine games played during Weeks 5-14 -- that's the second most among running backs behind only Christian McCaffrey (266.7). -- Cockcroft
Your weekly "chasing history" update: With his 24.5 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, Christian McCaffrey now has 378.6 for the season. That's the third most by any player in history through his team's first 13 games of a season, and it would already represent the 26th most by any running back in a completed season.
Lamar Jackson's 19.8 fantasy points might've been his second-worst single-game output of 2019, but they also pushed his season total to 348.8. That's the second most by any quarterback in history through his team's first 13 games of a season, trailing only Patrick Mahomes' 353.5 fantasy points in 2018, and it would represent the 19th most by any quarterback in a completed season. -- Cockcroft
Devin Singletary: Singletary rushed for 89 yards on 17 carries against Baltimore and we once again saw his ability to shake guys in space. But how about the pass game targets? Singletary saw a season-high eight targets on Sunday, catching six passes for 29 yards. Sure, we want those receiving totals to climb, and for the Bills to devise some throws to the rookie back. However, Singletary can remove from the backfield as a receiver, and the uptick in targets keeps him in the RB2/Flex range heading into Week 15 versus the Steelers. -- Bowen
Sony Michel: With just 8 yards on five carries, Michel was a total bust in the Patriots' loss to the Chiefs. And his carries were down, too, with both James White (six carries) and Rex Burkhead (seven) seeing more touches in the run game. That puts Michel at 15 total carries in his past two games. Not a positive sign for a back with very limited receiving upside who hasn't found the end zone since Week 7. -- Bowen
Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes' 13.9 fantasy points were his second fewest in any game in which he played at least 50% of the Chiefs' offensive snaps (his 10.4 points in his NFL debut in Week 17 of 2017 the only one worse). While it's easy to cast this aside with "that's the strength of the Patriots' defense," the Broncos, Bears and Chargers are Mahomes' final three matchups, and they're the third-, 10th- and ninth-toughest schedule-adjusted matchups for a quarterback, using full-season stats. Keep that tucked away if you have an abundance of riches at the position and see a matchup you like better. -- Cockcroft