Week 14 Fantasy Mailbag: Dak Prescott vs Geno Smith, Cam Akers Conundrum, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Dak Prescott (left), Geno Smith (right).
Want personalized lineup advice? Have start/sit questions? Want me to adjudicate dicey league disputes? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions each week to be featured in this article.
Fantasy Start-Sit Questions
Rams Backfield Conundrum: Cam Akers vs. Kyren Williams?
@rgeralde asks via Twitter: “Kyren [Williams] or Cam Akers. Which terrible option will be starting for me this week?”
Samantha: Big oof. I suppose you have to roll with the hot hand (Akers), but I understand your reservations.
Akers led the Rams‘ backfield in Week 13 with 17 carries for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Williams had just three carries for nine yards. Akers was the RB7 in half PPR in this standout performance (his best this year) and Williams was the RB70.
Akers also out-snapped Williams for the first time with both players on the field by a count of 46 to 18.
I am probably as confused as you are about this headache of a backfield. Without Darrell Henderson Jr. on the field, the Rams’ RB1 position remains very much up for grabs.
Akers could certainly seize the opportunity with two mouthwatering matchups on deck: The Rams face the Raiders and Packers in back-to-back weeks, both of whom rank below average in rush DVOA and bottom seven in fantasy points allowed to running backs this year. We shall see if Akers (or Williams) emerges as the alpha as the Rams continue to throw things against the wall to see what sticks.
Dak Prescott vs. Geno Smith?
@BlakeLucius05 asks via Twitter: “Dak [Prescott] or Geno [Smith]???”
Samantha: What an absolutely bananas season it has been that this is an earnest question and I am actually leaning Smith!
Allow me to preface this by saying I am not actually saying Smith is even in the same stratosphere as Prescott from a talent perspective; the two are just in very different situations.
According to DVOA, the Cowboys have the No. 1 defense while the Seahawks are No. 20. Dallas has allowed the third-fewest offensive points per game (17.2); Seattle’s sieve-like defense has been lit up for the fifth-most points per game (25.3).
This results in vastly different game scripts: Dallas is bottom six in pass-play percentage (51.3%), which ultimately limits Prescott’s fantasy upside. Even in a game the Cowboys dropped a 54-burger on a team, Prescott finished as the QB10, passing for just 170 yards. He isn’t a reliable ground threat either, averaging just 10 rushing yards per contest.
I am giving the slight edge toward Smith, who has finished as a top-12 quarterback in each of the past four games and seven of 12 starts this year.
George Pickens vs. Donovan Peoples-Jones?
@FFGrinder asks via Twitter: “[Half PPR] George Pickens or [Donovan-Peoples Jones]? Thanks!”
Samantha: Pickens for me, but it is close.
Pickens is coming off of an absolute dud of a game against the Falcons. He caught 1-of-2 targets for two yards and was the WR108 in half-PPR scoring. I expect Pickens to bounce back in Week 14 against the Ravens, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Peoples-Jones had a big Week 13 by way of a 76-yard punt return touchdown against the Texans. Aside from special teams highlight, he caught 3-of-3 targets for 44 yards.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson was rustier than I thought he’d be, and the Browns will not get to play the Texans every week. In fact, they have a much tougher opponent in Week 14 against the Bengals, whose defense has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers and ranks top-10 in pass DVOA.
Cam Akers vs. Gabe Davis?
@ACSnow22 asks via Twitter: “12 team 1/2 PPR. Pick 1 for Flex. Cam Akers vs. [Raiders] or Gabe Davis vs. [Jets]?”
Samantha: Gotta roll with Davis.
Akers undeniably has the better matchup opposite the Raiders, who are only marginally better against the run than they are against the pass. Las Vegas’ defense has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs and ranks 21st in rush DVOA. Akers was also utilized as the workhorse back in Week 13 and scored a pair of touchdowns.
But pretty much any Sean McVay-wielded running back gives me pause. In the week prior, it was Kyren Williams — not Akers — who saw the lion’s share of touches.
Davis is a boom-or-bust WR3 in an absolutely brutal matchup. The Jets defense ranks fifth in pass DVOA and has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
This said, the Bills have a ton of offensive weapons who will keep the Jets occupied. I expect Stefon Diggs to draw the elite coverage of standout rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner, which could open up opportunities for Davis. He is the safer and higher-upside play in my opinion.
Tony Pollard vs. Dameon Pierce?
@Mr_Pickles asks via Twitter: “[Tony] Pollard or [Dameon] Pierce at flex?”
Pollard has finished as a top-seven fantasy running back in four of the last five games and is the overall RB2 in that span in half-PPR scoring behind only Josh Jacobs. He shined in Week 13 against the Colts and tallied 106 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns on 14 touches, finishing top two at the position for the week.
Pollard has the matchup of all matchups this week against the Texans’ run defense, which has allowed the most fantasy points to running backs and unsurprisingly ranks 28th in rush DVOA. Pollard is a locked-in top-12 play with sky-high potential.
On the other side, Pierce isn’t a bad play, but his trajectory of late has not been anything near Pollard’s. He had back-to-back three-point games in half-PPR scoring in Weeks 11 and 12.
He bounced back against the Browns’ awful defense last week, but will face a much more legitimate adversary this week in the Cowboys. Dallas’ defense has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs and ranks eighth in rush DVOA.
Start Pollard with confidence.
Raheem Mostert vs. George Pickens?
@chuckscottjr asks via Twitter: “[Raheem] Mostert or [George] Pickens in the flex? PPR. Need a win to earn the first round bye.”
Samantha: Pickens for me.
I get that the two are trending in different directions if you only look at their most recent games. Pickens finished as the WR107 in half-PPR scoring in what should have been a soft matchup against the Falcons. I expect him to bounce back in a favorable matchup against the Ravens.
Mostert did not have a stellar game by any means (seven carries for 30 yards), but he was the primary back over Jeff Wilson Jr. in the Dolphins‘ loss to the 49ers. This certainly could have been the result of a brutal matchup against S.F.’s top-notch run defense that ranks second in rush DVOA. I suspect the Miami backfield will be closer to a 50/50 split moving forward.
Mostert has the better Week 14 matchup against the Chargers, who rank bottom four in fantasy points allowed to running backs. I am just struggling to trust him given the competition for touches with Wilson.
Fantasy Stock Questions
Tyler Higbee Woes
@lionbeard40 asks via Twitter: “Should I give up or give Tyler Higbee one last shot in my lineup? He has been killing me but I know TE is rough.”
Samantha: This really depends on your other options. I understand Higbee has been downright brutal and things might not improve with John Wolford (or Baker Mayfield) under center for the remainder of the year.
Higbee caught 2-of-5 targets for 14 yards and was the TE33 in half PPR last week. There is at least some hope for him this week with the Raiders’ 30th-ranked pass defense (per DVOA) on deck.
To your point, the tight end position is an absolute hellscape. There is exactly one you can trust week in and week out and his name is Travis Kelce. After him, it feels like a game of Russian Roulette.
Of guys who are potentially available, I would consider starting Greg Dulcich (vs. Kansas City) or even Evan Engram (at Tennessee) over Higbee. If the waiver wire is lean and both are taken, Higbee is probably your best bet.
Cole Kmet And Brock Purdy Questions
@patrick12383581 asks via Twitter: “With [Justin] Fields back, is [Cole] Kmet ascending at TE? Is Brock Purdy worth a depth slot?”
Samantha: Kmet is definitely back into the locked-in TE1 tier with Fields back. Since Week 9, Kmet is the TE2 in half-PPR scoring behind only Kelce, and in spite of concerns about Fields’ health impacting Chicago’s pass-catchers, he had a solid Week 13.
Kmet saw a team-high seven targets and caught six of them for 72 yards, finishing as the TE7 for the week.
After the Bears‘ Week 14 bye, they face the Eagles, Bills, Lions and Vikings to finish out the year. Certainly not the easiest schedule, but volume — especially without Darnell Mooney — should keep Kmet comfortably inside the top 12 at the position.
As far as Purdy goes, and without knowing your league’s rules, I would say no — unless this is a superflex/two-quarterback format, or a league with 16 or more teams.
I will say, after the Buccaneers this week, the 49ers’ schedule is absolutely mouthwatering. San Francisco faces Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas and Arizona to put a bow on the regular season. Depending on how Week 14 goes, Purdy could be in the streaming conversation for any of those matchups (though I am unsure if you want to put your chances for the Shiva trophy in his hands).